Consumer Complaints Process

Instructor: LeRon Haire
The lesson will define and expound on the steps included in the consumer complaints process. It will also address issues with consumers responding to online purchase complaints.

The Process of Complaining

Let's say that you are eating at a local restaurant, and your food is vastly under-cooked. Also, your waiter, in your opinion, has been rather rude by texting on his cell phone while taking your order. What do you do? The first thing that may come to your mind is to place a complaint, but just how do you go about placing a complaint that will be heard? Your best bet is to use the consumer complaints process, which is a process that is in place to serve as a guide for consumers to abide by when wanting to place a complaint. Let's take a look at some of the steps of the consumer complaints process and how they can ease the process for consumers.

Retrieve Evidence

Using the previous example from the paragraph above, let's again assume that you have had a terrible experience as a consumer at a restaurant. In order to lodge a complaint utilizing the consumer complaints process, you would first need to either gather evidence (such as the under-cooked food in this situation) that would be critical in helping prove your case.

Without actually obtaining or keeping the under-cooked food, it would be difficult for you to show management the problem that you encountered. In many situations, it may be important that you gather or retain information such as a receipt, a warranty, or some type of purchase confirmation. Without this step in the consumer complaints process, it makes the job of an organization hearing your complaint less than average.

Contact the Organization

Once you have you proof or evidence (if it is available in your specific scenario), it is time for you to take the next step in the consumer complaints process: contact the management of the organization or business that caused the complaint. This can typically be done by either calling, writing, or even e-mailing the business that caused the complaint.

Whether by e-mail or even the outdated pay phone, consumers should always contact the organization about a complaint.

Although this is not the first step in the consumer complaint process, it is the first step taken that initiates the initial contact between the consumer and the defending business. In many of today's businesses, there are departments, such as consumer affairs, that are in place for the sole reason of handling complaints that are received from consumers.

Other scenarios may see consumers contact places of business directly by calling, writing, or e-mailing the management. They may even contact third parties like licensing boards and local government affiliated agencies that may work on your behalf.

Taking It to Court

Once the first two steps have been completed, the next step is to proceed with legal actions, if deemed necessary. For example, let's assume that while the patron of the above restaurant, there was hot chili mistakenly spilled on you by the waiter which caused a burn to your body. One of your only options may be to proceed with legal action.

It is important to understand that without performing the first two steps in sequence, it would make it much more difficult for you to succeed with proving your case in court. The consumer complaints process is designed to serve as a safeguard for consumers and provide them with options to avoid legal recourse. However, it is still important that consumers understand that this is a last option for them.

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