Where to File a Consumer Complaint

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Consumers are often frustrated by the lack of customer service when they attempt to complain about a product or service they have purchased.  Many companies have placed customer service on the back burner and, for this reason, customer complaints are frequently ignored. But consumers are not at the mercy of these companies that refuse to address their grievances; they can lodge their complaints elsewhere.

Consumer Complaint Boards

Many consumers are not looking for a big pay day; they simply want an acknowledgment that the product or service was inferior.  For these consumers, the Internet is a great place to lodge a complaint when the business or service provider has been unresponsive.  There are dozens of websites which have consumer complaint boards where people can share their stories and warn others about businesses that engage in unfair, deceptive, abusive, and illegal business practices.  If you are considering making a purchase or doing business with a company, taking a look at some of these consumer complaints boards should be a part of your due diligence process. 

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

The Federal Trade Commission compiles and investigates consumer complaints from over 125 organizations in the United States.  Although the FTC does not resolve individual consumer complaints, it has the authority to investigate patterns of wrongdoing and to prosecute individuals or companies which engage in business practices which violate consumer protection laws.

Other federal agencies also investigate and enforce consumer protection laws. 

These agencies include:

  • The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC);
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA);
  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC);
  • The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC);
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA);
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); and
  • The Department of Agriculture.

State and Local Agencies

Every state has a consumer protection office which investigates violations of state laws governing consumer protection.  The Office of the Attorney General in each state prosecutes state consumer protection law violations.  Additionally, many cities and municipalities also have consumer protection offices which investigate consumer protection complaints.

Filing a Consumer Protection Complaint

Most agencies allow consumers to file complaints on line by completing a short questionnaire.  These consumer complaint forms require consumers to identify the type of business against which the complaint is being filed, to give the name and address of the business, and a detailed explanation of the complaint and the circumstances which gave rise to the complaint.  Consumers should be prepared to provide the consumer protection agency with copies of  any supporting documentation such as a contract, product warranty, or correspondence to or from the business.  Consumers should retain a copy of the consumer complaint form for their records.

For consumers who don't have access to a computer, most agencies have hotlines which consumers can call to request consumer complaint forms.  These forms must be must completed and returned to the agency in order for the complaint to be investigated.

Getting Consumer Protection Legal Help

If you believe you have been the victim of a consumer protection violation, one of the best weapons you can have as you seek redress is an experienced consumer protection attorney.  Your attorney will evaluate your case and advise you of the best course of action.  In many instances, your attorney will be able to resolve your consumer protection complaint with a few phone calls and letters.  In other instances, you will have to file a lawsuit to get the compensation to which you are entitled.