How to Complain After A Purchase Instructions

Use these instructions and sample letters when you’re dissatisfied with a product or service you’ve just purchased, and you need to know how and where to file your complaint.

Before filing a complaint, be sure that you have read and followed the product or service instructions carefully. Your use or care for a product may affect your warranty rights. Save all contracts, sales receipts, canceled checks, owner’s manuals, and warranty documents.

Follow the instructions below to resolve your problem successfully.

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1. How to Complain

Begin by contacting the business that sold you the item or performed the service. If they will not or cannot help you, then go directly to the headquarters of the company or the manufacturer. Ask if they have a consumer affairs office and, if so, report the problem directly to them.

As calmly and concisely as possible, describe the problem and what action you would like taken.

Keep a record of your efforts to resolve the problem. Record all correspondence (phone log) over the phone and in writing. Keep notes of whom you spoke with and what they said. Allow time for the person you contacted to resolve your problem. Keep notes of the date, what was agreed on, and the next steps to take.

When sending a complaint letter to the company, be sure to describe the problem accurately, the actions you’ve taken to resolve the problem, and what solution is acceptable to you (want your money back, product repaired or exchanged, service performed again and so forth).

Save copies of all letters to and from the company. Don’t give up if you are not satisfied. There are third-party dispute resolution programs, trade associations, media programs, national consumer organizations, and legal assistance programs l that may be able to assist you. see resources below

2. Making A Complaint

Use this complaint resolution letter as a guide. If you use e-mail, make sure to send a copy of the e-mail to other relevant organizations and yourself.

3. Who To Contact and How To Find Them

Address letters, faxes, or e-mails to the company’s consumer affairs department or the president if there is no consumer affairs office.

Call the company’s toll-free number located on documents you’ve received from the company. If you cannot find a number or do not have any documents, look in a directory of toll-free telephone numbers available at your public library, or toll-free directory assistance at 1-800-555-1212 or refer to this list of Corporate Consumer Contacts.

Check the product label or warranty for the name and address of the manufacturer or parent company.

Because the name of the manufacturer or parent company is often different than the brand name, check the following books in the reference section of your local library for contact information:

Standard & Poor’s Register of Corporations; Directors and Executives

Standard Directory of Advertisers;

Trade Names Dictionary;

Brands and Their Companies; and

Dun & Bradstreet Directory.

Check the state agency (possibly the corporation commission or secretary of state’s office) that provides addresses for companies incorporated in that state.

4. What To Say

Include in a letter, fax, or e-mail your name, address, home or work telephone numbers, and account number (if any).

Make the written or telephone complaint brief. Include the date and place you made the purchase, who performed the service, information about the product (such as the serial or model number, warranty terms), what went wrong, with whom you have tried to resolve the problem, and what you’ve want done to correct the problem.

Sample Phone Script

Sample Complaint Resolution Letter

Be reasonable, not angry or threatening. Type your letter, if possible, or make sure that your handwriting is neat and easy to read.

Include copies of all documents YOU KEEP the originals.

5. What To Do Next

Send your complaint letter via mail return receipt requested. While the return receipt costs more, it will give you proof that the letter was received and will tell you who signed for it.

Keep a copy of your complaint letter, and all letters to and from the company.

If you believe you have given the company enough time to resolve the problem, file a complaint with your state or local consumer protection office, the Better Business Bureau, or the regulatory agency that has jurisdiction over the business, e.g., banking, insurance, utilities commissions, State, County, and City Consumer Protection Offices.

Better Business Bureau

Keep all copies of your letter, fax or e-mail, and all related documents.

6. Sources to help you with complaints

Media Programs

Local newspapers and radio stations often have Action Lines or Hotline services. Many try to resolve all of the consumer complaints they receive. Others handle only the most serious cases or those that occur most frequently. To find these services, check with your local newspapers, radio and television stations, or the local library.

Call for Action, Inc.

5272 River Road, Suite 300 Bethesda, MD 20816
Fax: 301-657-2914

Call for Action, Inc. is a forty-year-old nonprofit network of consumer hotlines, which operates in conjunction with broadcast partners to educate and assist consumers and small businesses with consumer problems. Listed below are hotlines in major markets staffed with trained volunteers who offer advice and mediate complaints at no cost to consumers. Consumers in all other locations should use the following Network Hotline information:

WTAJ-TV Call For Action
Altoona, PA

WXIA-TV Call For Action
Atlanta, GA

WBZ Radio Call For Action
Boston, MA

WIVB-TV Call For Action
Buffalo, NY

WJW-TV Call For Action
Cleveland, OH

KKTV-TV Call For Action
Colorado Springs, CO

KTVT-TV Call For Action
Dallas, TX
1-877-TEXAS11 (toll free)

WXYZ-TV & WJR Radio Call For Action
Detroit, MI

WINK-TV Call For Action
Fort Myers, FL

WFMY-TV Call For Action
Greensboro, NC

KCTV-5 Call For Action
Kansas City, MO

WTMJ-TV Call For Action
Milwaukee, WI

WABC Radio Call For Action
New York, NY

KPNX-TV & KNAZ-TV Call For Action
Phoenix/Flagstaff, AZ
1-866-260-1212 (toll free)

WTAE-TV Call For Action
Pittsburgh, PA

KTVI-TV Call For Action
St. Louis, MO

KTVX-TV Call For Action
Salt Lake City, UT
1-877-908-0444 (toll free)

WTOL-TV Call For Action
Toledo, OH

WTOP AM&FM Call For Action
Washington, DC

Network Hotline (all other areas)
Bethesda, MD