Consumer Complaints and Protections: How To File a Complaint Against a Company

Shelly Bohorquez  | 

How To File a Complaint Against a Company

If you’ve had a negative experience with a product or service you received from a company, you may be looking to file a complaint against them. There are a few ways to get help handling the problem. You can: contact the corporate office or consumer affairs department and ask to be reimbursed, file a complaint with a consumer organization, go to small claims court, or hire a lawyer to file a lawsuit. The route you take will depend on the severity of the issue you had, and how much money you lost by trusting this company.

Gather Important Documents and Evidence

Once you’ve decided to file a complaint, whether with corporate or the Better Business Bureau (BBB), you’ll have to gather the evidence, or any important documents related to the products and services you received. This includes: sales receipts, product photos, warranties, contracts, and work orders from the services you received or the products your purchased. Other evidence includes emails, letters, or other information about the contact you had with the company.

Contact the Company

Often times, companies will help you resolve issues with products and services you received once you contact them and explain the problem. If you don’t get result by speaking to customer service, work your way up the ranks and contact a supervisor or manager. If they are unable or unwilling to help you, take your concerns to the business’ corporate office by writing a letter. Provide them with the documents and evidence you’ve gathered, and let them know what you see as a solution; they are likely to resolve the situation to prevent it from escalating.

Contact the Correct Agency or Organization

However, if contacting their corporate office is ineffective, take your evidence to a consumer agency or organization. There are a few organizations that deal with complaints about businesses, and depending on what your complaint is and the type of resolution you’re looking for, one may be better able to address the issue than the other.

Get Help From a Consumer Attorney

If you’re determined to take legal action, it may be a good idea to hire a consumer attorney to help you make a case against the business when you take them to court. A consumer attorney can help you work out the complicated details, especially if there’s a lot of money involved. Ask friends who have had similar experiences for lawyer recommendations or check your local bar association for a referral; you can also look for lawyers online.

Where Can I File a Consumer Complaint?

Your State Attorney General’s Office

For state related issues, such as violations of a Consumer Protection Act, Competition Act, Telephone Solicitation Act, and Charitable Solicitation Act, it’s best to contact your state’s Attorney General’s office, who will follow up with the company and take disciplinary or legal action against companies who violate these types of laws. You can contact them online, by phone, or through the mail to note your concerns, and they will let you know their result.

Your State’s Consumer Protection Agency

You can find local consumer protection agencies by going to usa.gov, and finding the list of agencies for your state. The website will list local consumer protection agencies for state affairs, bank authorities, insurance regulators, securities administrators, utility commissions and more.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is a U.S. government agency that makes sure banks, lenders, and other financial companies treat you fairly, and can help you resolve issues with financial products of services you received. If you were charged interest, fees or rates that were not explained to you, you can file a complaint with the CFPB that is published to the public online. They contact the business with your complaint and facilitate communication to try to resolve the issue within two weeks; however, they don’t advocate for you if you remain unsatisfied.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

If you were a victim of unfair or deceptive business practices and wish to warn others of your experience, the Federal Trade Commision allows you to file complaints online. They use this information to track patterns of fraud and abuse, which can help law enforcement officials shut down companies that are operating under deceptive business practices. However, they won’t work out a solution to your specific claim.

EConsumer.gov

If your purchase was made online across international borders, consider filing your complaint with econsumer.gov, a partnership of more than 35 consumer protection agencies around the world. This organization helps authorities spot trends and combat fraud from international online scams, and can help prevent others from having the same negative experience you had.

Better Business Bureau (BBB)

Organizations like Better Business Bureau, on the other hand, are a non-profit organization that help people find and recommend businesses, brands and charities they can trust. If you make a complaint to the BBB about a business or service, they will attempt to settle the dispute by contacting the business and giving them a chance to respond. If they don’t respond within 30 days, they risk having their business’ grade lowered, which warns other customers.

Consumer Protection Attorney

If you need help filing your complaint or pursuing legal action, consider hiring a consumer protection attorney to help you through the process. Consumer protection attorneys know the ins and outs of consumer protection laws and will help ensure you are treated fairly, will advocate for your rights in court and will help prosecute businesses who haven’t adhered to regulations.


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This post was updated November 7, 2018. It was originally published November 8, 2018.