A word of advice about how to complaint effectively about a consumer problem.
6 March 2010
There’s nothing like that sinking feeling when you find out that your new purchase is a dud. When there is a tear in your new dress, or your remote control car isn’t going as fast as the shop assistant said it would, you need to know how to complain effectively.
When a deal goes bad, find out your rights, prepare your evidence and go back to the trader to make a complaint and get the problem solved.
Prepare your complaint
Find out what your rights are by checking on our website or going to your local Citizens Advice Bureau. Collect anything that will help you prove your case, such as an advertisement that misled you, and the receipt to prove that you bought it from that trader. Make a note of the date, time, and what the trader or shop assistant said about the goods.
If you don’t have the receipt, you can still prove that you bought the goods from them if that trader is the only one that sells that product, or you can show the purchase on your eftpos or a credit card statement, or you have other evidence that shows that you bought the product from that trader.
Go back to the trader
Go to the shop or trader with your evidence and the faulty item. Calmly explain the problem. Some shops will sort the problem out straight away. Be firm about what you want and try not to get into an argument. If the shop assistant isn’t being very helpful, ask to see the manager or supervisor. Explain the problem again to the supervisor.
Listen to what the trader tells you and compare it to what you have already found out about your rights. It might be that you have misunderstood the situation or the trader might be telling you something that isn’t correct.
If you don’t have any luck with the shop then take all your evidence home and write a complaint letter to the trader. Explain the problem again. You could also write to the trader’s head office. Keep a copy of your letter and only send a photocopy of your evidence. Keep the originals so they don’t get lost.
Taking your complaint further
If you and the trader can’t agree then consider taking the complaint further. You can complain to the trader’s association (if there is one) or make a claim at the Disputes Tribunal. The Disputes Tribunal may help you and the trader reach an agreement or may make a decision about what is fair.