TRO expects 170,000 complaints
The country's first retail ombudsman expects to have to deal with 170,000 consumer complaints a year.
The service - which is voluntary for retailers - can be used by consumers after they have made a complaint to the company and the issue is not resolved.
Barrister Dean Dunham, who begins work as ombudsman on 1 January, said shoppers who could not afford a lawyer could now use The Retail Ombudsman instead.
'In this day and age, with shopping online as well as the high street, there are millions of complaints. A large proportion get resolved, but a large proportion don't. Those people are frustrated and they don't know where to turn and can't afford a lawyer. Now they can turn to the ombudsman,' says Dunham.
Companies which join the service will pay up to £2,000 a year and £45 for each case that the ombudsman takes on.
According to the service's website, retailers that have already signed up include Debenhams, BhS, Argos, TJ Hughes, Matalan and Wilkinson.
Dunham hopes retailers will sign up to demonstrate their commitment to service.
'If your retailer's not part of the scheme, perhaps you should think twice about shopping there, because we are the security blanket. Let's face it - it's in all of our interests that consumer rights are observed.'
Consumer complaints about furniture and flooring will continue to be handled by The Furniture Ombudsman.