Making a complaint – properly

In my previous post I mentioned that in order to make a complaint (or request advice) you will probably have to contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service. The details of your complaint will then be passed to your local Trading Standards who may or may not decide to do something further with it.

I should say that the word ‘complain’ may sound a bit strong. People often contact Trading Standards/Citizens Advice because they want to report something or bring it to our attention – and this is fine, you don’t necessarily have to have been a victim or customer of a dodgy business to complain/report something to us. The key thing is the more information we have the better.

So that the Citizens Advice Consumer Service can advise you properly and so that Trading Standards have as much relevant information as possible it is important to provide a certain amount of information when making a complaint.

Your name

Your address

Your phone number / email

This is so your local TS is sent the details of your complaint and can contact you if necessary.

What may seem innocuous to you in isolation may highlight criminality when trends are identified. I often contact people weeks after they have complained about something because their complaint has highlighted a pattern.

The businesses name

The business address

The business phone number/email / website

This is so the TS where the business is based has an accurate record of all complaints against businesses in their area and can identify trends and problem businesses. This will also allow us to link complaints about a business together.

The type of product you bought

The date you bought it

How you bought it

In person? Online? At your home?

How much you paid

How you paid

If you are buying something expensive (£100 – £30,000) then buy it on a credit card to get what is known as ’section 75’ protection. I cannot tell you how many times this has led to someone finding an easy solution to their problem.

What your problem is

Have you had any contact with the business and what did they say?

The names of any people at the business you dealt with

If you are out owed money, how much?

What do you actually want to achieve?

If you feel a crime has been committed – what is it and why do you think it is a crime?

A lot of people think something is criminal when it is not. So it is useful to know why the complainant feels a crime has been committed.

These points will allow us to see what your problem is and identify whether a criminal offence has been committed or whether you just need advice to help you with your particular problem.

Remember the more information the better. Where relevant you may wish to provide other info such as:

The descriptions of people you met

Details of any paperwork you received

Vehicle registration details

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