Return to the Store or Website
You can solve many consumer problems by talking to a store employee, or if you bought the item online, by returning to the website. Do this as soon as possible because some retailers have time limits on returns and refunds.
How can you know the process for returning a product that you bought online? Online retailers should provide return instructions on the website or on your receipt. There should also be a mechanism for contacting the merchant through the website.
What if the store employee doesn’t have the authority to help you? You should ask to speak to a supervisor or manager. With each person, calmly and accurately explain the problem and what you would like them to do. Keep a record of your conversations – the date and time, who you spoke with, and what action they promised.
Call Customer Service
If you cannot resolve the complaint at the store or by returning the product to the website, you may need to speak to someone at the company’s national headquarters or to the manufacturer of the product. Many companies provide a toll-free number or address for their customer service department on the product packaging, warranty, or receipt. If that is not the case, look on the company’s website. Look for a “Contact Us” link.
If the first person you speak with can’t help you, ask for a supervisor or manager. Again, keep a record of your conversations, including the date and time, who you spoke with, and what action they promised.
Use Social Media
Social media offers an alternative to filing a formal consumer complaint. Many companies have people that monitor posts and complaints about their product and service on social medial pages. Your post will be most effective if you use a reasonable tone and explain the problem clearly. To avoid negative perceptions, the company may respond quickly to your complaint. While there is no guarantee, it is worth a try.
Write a Letter
If returning to the store or calling doesn’t work, use these tips to draft an effective complaint:
- Be clear and concise. Describe the item you bought and the problem, include serial or model numbers, and the name and location of the seller.
- State exactly what you want done and how long you are willing to wait for a response. Be reasonable.
- Don’t write an angry, sarcastic, or threatening letter. The person reading your letter probably isn’t responsible for the problem, but may be very helpful in resolving it.
- Include copies of relevant documents, like receipts, repair orders, and warranties. Keep the originals.
- Provide your name, address, and phone numbers. If an account is involved, be sure to include the account number.
You may want to send your letter using a method that will provide you proof that the company received the letter and who signed for it.
Get Outside Help
Keep in mind that no one can guarantee you a refund. Con artists sometimes claim that they can help people get their money back in exchange for fees, bank account information, or personal information. Don’t pay an upfront fee or give out sensitive financial information for the promise of a refund. A government agency will not charge you for filing a complaint.
If writing a letter doesn’t resolve the complaint, you may want to contact the following organizations for help:
- Your local or national consumer protection agency. The consumer protection agency may or may not help resolve individual complaints.
- You may be able to use a dispute resolution program to help you resolve the complaint.
- If your complaint involves a company in another country, you can file a complaint with econsumer.gov. econsumer.gov is a portal for consumer complaints about online and related transactions with foreign companies. econsumer.gov does not help resolve individual complaints, but your complaint will help law enforcement detect patterns of wrong-doing and may lead to an investigation.