We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Consumer Complaint?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At SmartCapitalMind, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A consumer complaint is a report from a consumer providing documentation about a problem with a product or service. Consumer complaints typically represent an escalation in the complaint process, as consumers file them with a third party to register a grievance with a company that fails to resolve a complaint internally. Organizations like the Better Business Bureau and Federal Trade Commission both accept consumer complaints and assist people with customer service issues, as do government representatives like attorneys general.

Agencies that accept consumer complaint filings usually ask people to use an internal form, or to draft a letter that follows very specific guidelines. Consumers need to provide names and contact information for themselves as well as the company, and describe the complaint in detail. Representatives of the agency will review the document, determine if they can take any action, and advise the consumer about the next step.

Consumers often manage to resolve problems with products and services by persistently complaining to the offending company. They may need to document any steps they took to solve the problem if they file formal complaints, making it a good idea to take notes on all contacts with the company. If this is not successful, the customer can file a formal consumer complaint. This will enter the records kept about the company, and enough complaints can trigger an investigation, a downgrade in a company's rating, and other penalties.

Causes for consumer complaint filings vary. People may have issues with returns and repairs, warranties, unauthorized disclosures of information, or violations of consumer protection laws like do-not-call lists. If an agency receives a complaint and cannot do anything with it, it needs to provide information to the consumer about why it reached a given conclusion, so consumers can appeal or refile. Resolutions can include refunds, issuing compensation or replacement products, or negotiating a meeting between a consumer and company representatives so the consumer can air a grievance.

Before filing a consumer complaint, it is a good idea to read the guidelines carefully to make sure an organization or agency is an appropriate choice. It is also important to make sure that the complaint meets the guidelines; leaving off contact information or failing to document the complaint properly can result in a time delay as the agency seeks more information to be able to better aid the consumer. Consumers should keep copies of their complaints and any correspondence with consumer rights organizations or agencies for future reference.

SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a SmartCapitalMind researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By discographer — On Mar 23, 2014

@donasmrs-- That's a good question.

It's a good idea to report to local and state agencies first. I went to the consumer protection agency in my area. I think that's a good place to go to first. Better Business Bureaus are another good agency to go to initially. These are not government agencies, they are non-profits but they can help resolve problems between businesses and consumers.

If you can't get results with local or state agencies, then you should proceed to national agencies like national consumer agencies and trade associations.

Also, you can file a complaint with multiple agencies at the same time. So if you want, you can file a complaint both locally and nationally. Another option is contacting the media like local radios and newspapers. They can be very influential.

By donasmrs — On Mar 22, 2014

@discographer-- How do I know which third party to file a complaint with?

By discographer — On Mar 22, 2014

It's great that there are third party authorities that consumers can go to when a manufacturer is not resolving a problem.

I had a problem recently, where an electronic I purchased online was not working properly. I called the company and they sent me a new one, having me mail the one I had to them. I paid for shipping. The new product had the same exact problem and when I called them again, they refused to take any action.

After numerous phone calls without results, I ended up complaining to the local consumer protection office. They were excellent and helped me get a refund from the company.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
SmartCapitalMind, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

SmartCapitalMind, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.