SBG backs photocopier ombudsman: Competitor sets up victims' support group for disgruntled customers

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The Independent Online
SOUTHERN Business Group, the controversial photocopier supplier, said it would support proposals to set up an independent ombudsman for the industry.

The plans were revealed by Labour's consumer affairs spokesman, Nigel Griffiths MP, at the inaugural meeting of a victims' support group for disgruntled customers of photocopier suppliers.

The support group has been set up by Quadronix, itself a photocopier consultant and dealer. Roger Limpenny, managing director of Southern, said Quadronix was a competitor and that some of its employees had worked in the past for Southern.

Southern was suing Quadronix for pounds 1.8m damages, alleging it had incited customers to break contracts. Quadronix is counter-suing, alleging slander, malicious falsehood and unlawful interference with its business.

Mr Limpenny said he saw no reason for the support group's existence. 'We have said that we are happy to have a senior director look at any complaints for customers about our contracts and we will immediately rectify anything that is not acceptable.'

But speakers at the public meeting complained that they had not received satisfaction from Southern. Mr Griffiths said an ombudsman should have the power and the resources to sort out the backlog of complaints.

The Office of Fair Trading is due to report next month following an inquiry into the tactics of photocopier suppliers. The controversy has centred around the 'cost per copy' practice, where customers are quoted a figure based on a minimum number of copies made.