How to Make a Consumer Complaint

You have the right to complain to a business when you have problems with a purchase or you believe you have been treated unfairly. Often if a customer takes direct action promptly and courteously, the problem is easily solved. Here's a step-by-step plan to help you get the best results when you complain:

Be Prepared in Advance

Even before things go wrong, be ready in case of trouble. Whenever you buy anything, make it a habit to save all records of the sale. If possible, try to keep sales slips, receipts, warranties, model and serial numbers, canceled checks, etc. Be sure you have the names of the salespeople you dealt with. Keep a special drawer or box at home for these purchase records.

Later, If Things Do Go Wrong

Gather your facts. Write down briefly and clearly exactly what happened--whom you talked to, when and where the problem occurred. Decide on a fair solution. Do you want a refund, exchange or credit? Make photocopies of all the papers and documents relating to the purchase. Now you're ready to make your consumer complaint.

Go Right to the Top

Immediately contact the top person in the business, such as the store manager or company head. If you can, it's better to go in person, because you are less likely to get the runaround than if you telephone. Take all your photocopied records with you. When you do get a promise or agreement from the person in charge, be sure to confirm all the details of your conversation by writing a follow-up letter. (You should have a written record of all promises made to you.)

If you cannot talk to the top person, write him or her a letter. Keep a copy for yourself.

Here are some tips on how to write a complaint letter:

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World