Services & Information / Consumer Protection - Do It Yourself
Do It Yourself: Resolving Consumer Complaints
- Identify the specific problem.
- Determine what outcome you are trying to achieve. Do you want your money back, your product repaired or exchanged? Make sure that what you want is reasonable.
- Gather data and documents that support your claim. These might include written contracts, letters, sales receipts, estimates, advertisements, warranties, guarantees, canceled checks, photographs, sale tags, labels, video recordings and other documents.
- Identify your resources. Contact local consumer agencies, law libraries, legal aid societies or consumer groups, to see if any laws pertain to your case, or what your rights might be.
- Pursue your complaint as soon as possible. You know the problem, you've identified your goal, you've gathered your data, and you know where you have to start.
- Be well organized when you file your complaint with the store or the provider of the service.
- Talk to the individual who helped you, customer service or the manager. If your complaint is not resolved, continue up the chain of authority. Be sure to record names of persons spoken to, the time, date and the results of your conversation.
- Explain your problem, clearly and concisely. Be firm, courteous and control your emotions. Have your supporting documentation organized and readily available.
- Listen carefully to what you are being offered in order to settle your complaint. If they offer slightly less than your goal, decide if you want to accept it or if you want to continue to the next higher level.
- Exercise patience, but be persistent. Give the business a reasonable amount of time to respond and settle your complaint.
- If the business is not local and you have to write a letter, be sure to state clearly the problem, your attempts at resolution, the company's response to those attempts, and what your desired goal is. Keep copies of the letters and supporting documentation, and send your letter by certified mail.
- If resolution is not achieved in a reasonable time, contact the appropriate city, county, state, or federal regulatory agency, small claims court or a private attorney.