Our History

Following the Government’s manifesto pledge to establish an Ombudsman within the rail sector, Dispute Resolution Ombudsman was appointed in 2018 to provide Great Britain’s first ever Rail Ombudsman service. This service is to provide consumers with a free and expert service to investigate unresolved complaints about train companies and rail service providers who participate in the Rail Ombudsman service.

This Rail Ombudsman service was launched on 26th November 2018.


  • 2023


    The Rail Ombudsman begins operating under a new contract sponsored by the regulator, the Office of Rail and Road.

  • 2018: The Rail Ombudsman is established

    Following the Government’s manifesto pledge to “introduce a passenger ombudsman to stand up for the interests of rail users suffering a poor deal.”, our work in many complex areas was recognised as we were appointed in 2018 to provide Great Britain’s first ever Rail Ombudsman service.


    2018: The Rail Ombudsman is established

  • 2017: 25 year anniversary


    The Ombudsman marked 25 years of expertise in provision of alternative dispute resolution services, resolving thousands of disputes and raising understanding on consumer law and protection issues across several sectors.



  • 2015: Consumer Protection Alliance formed

    In 2015, alongside Gas Safe Register, NICEIC and Which? the Ombudsman established the Consumer Protection Alliance to help provide awareness advice to consumers about the dangers within the home.


    2015: Consumer Protection Alliance formed

  • Dispute Resolution Ombudsman


    As the organisation grew and extended its reach, it created a sister brand using its registered name, the Dispute Resolution Ombudsman (DRO), to be operated alongside TFO and to carry out its services in other sectors beyond retail and furniture. Today TFO and DRO have jurisdiction across thousands of businesses, traders affiliated with the Which? Trusted Traders scheme and removal firms registered under the British Association of Removers Consumer Code Approval Scheme.

  • 2014: New Board established

    In 2014, a new board Chaired by Stephen McPartland MP was established, and the governance of the Ombudsman transferred to TFO Dispute Resolution Limited (later renamed Dispute Resolution Ombudsman Limited).

    Operating as a not-for-profit, the organisation was incorporated specifically for the purposes of operating as an Ombudsman to promote improvements in trading standards, to protect consumers and to provide advice and training services.

    2014: New Board established

  • The Furniture Ombudsman


    Throughout the rest of 2000s and beyond, the newly established service called The Furniture Ombudsman (TFO) helped to resolve thousands of disputes and the number of businesses who pledged their support for the organisation grew. In 2009 the Council and Advisory Panel was reconstituted in to a single Independent Standards Board, a function that continues to provide oversight today.

  • 2007: Becoming an Ombudsman

    Following its expanding remit those individuals on the Council and Advisory Panel elected in 2007 that Qualitas should take the necessary steps to become an Ombudsman.

    2007: Becoming an Ombudsman

  • Early 2000s: Qualitas Grows

    Collectively the Council and Advisory Panel merged together senior representatives from businesses, industry bodies, local government and consumer groups, including Which? By the mid-2000s Qualitas was well established and had become known for influencing improvements in standards by providing advice and training to the industry.

  • Mid-1990s: Governance

    An independent Council and Advisory Panel helped to provide oversight and governance whilst the organisation operated out of the offices of the Furniture Industry Research Association, who had been approached by officials at some point during the 1990s to encourage them to help resource it.

    Mid-1990s: Governance

  • Introduction of the Payment Protection Scheme

    In the mid-1990s, the Office of Fair Trading reviewed the consumer landscape once again. Following discussions with the industry, it concluded that as an alternative to legislative measures, a Payment Protection Scheme should be introduced by Qualitas to protect consumers who were making big-ticket purchases.

  • 1992: Qualitas is formed

    In 1992, the Office of Fair Trading together with colleagues from Trading Standards and individuals drawn from several industry bodies came together to establish an independent, not-for-profit organisation based in London called Qualitas. This organisation would go on to successfully provide advice, education and complaint resolution services to hundreds of businesses and their customers.

    1992: Qualitas is formed

  • 1986 - 1990: Government call for improvement

    In 1986 and 1990 the Office of Fair Trading (a non-ministerial government department) released reports calling upon the furniture industry to improve the way that consumers were being treated. There was a clear call for action which included the improvements that the government believed should be introduced as an alternative to legislation.