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Consumer rights survival guide

How to complain

making a complaint

 

If you feel that you have been treated unfairly and would like to complain about an item you have purchased or a service you have received, there are methods of complaining that are substantially more effective than others.

First of all, you should complain as soon as possible when you realise you are dissatisfied. If at all possible (and if you feel comfortable with this) your first port of call should in person. You should explain to the retailer why you are not happy and what you would like to be done about it. Stand your ground but remain calm at all times. Shouting and swearing will get you nowhere! If you do not feel that your issue has been resolved by face to face discussion, ask for the details of the retailers supervisor/manager/head office, or look up these details on the internet.

Your next step should be to write to or call the retailer/their manager/the companies complaints department. You should keep a copy of this letter and any responses received back from the retailer.


If this does still not result in a satisfactory out come you may want to take your complaint further, either by contacting a solicitor, using an Ombudsman service or by taking your dispute to the small claims court.

how to take your complaint further

The small claims court is actually the County Court, they just have a special procedure for dealing with 'small claims'. These may include being sold faulty goods, non-receipt of goods, poor workmanship, property damage or personal injury.

Although the small claims court is an option, consumers are generally encourage to try one of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) schemes first. These include mediation (communicating with the retailer to try to reach an agreement, possibly through a solicitor) and ombudsman schemes. Ombudsman are government appointed or otherwise official public bodies responsible for mediation between two parties.

Below is a list of ombudsman who you may find useful if you have a complaint:

Recommended Further Reading

If you cannot resolve your dispute using mediation or via an ombudsman scheme, you may want to pursue this dispute through the Small Claims Court. In order to do this you will have to put in a claim. If your claim is for less than £10,000 and is against no more then two people, you can start your claim online at moneyclaim or alternatively, you can start your claim at any court in England of in Wales.

If you are going to claim in court as opposed to online, you will need to fill in a claims form, available from all county courts or online at www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk

Once these forms are completed, they will be registered by the court and sent to the defendant. You will then be advised how to proceed by the court depending on the defendants response. You should know that you may incur court costs if you decide to pursue a claim in the Small Claims Court, and these will be considerably more substantial if you hire a solicitor.

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