A consumer who has a complaint should try to resolve the problem with the trader in the first instance. As a first step, the consumer should enquire as to whether the business has a customer service charter. Below are some steps to consider when negotiating with a trader:
- Identify the exact nature of the problem
- Find any copies of receipts, warranties and other documents related to the purchase of the goods/services which are the subject of the complaint.
- Go back to the supplier/trader as soon as you have a problem - don't delay. Explain the problem calmly and in as much detail as possible. Tell them how you would like the problem solved. Remember to give the supplier time to look into the problem and get back to you. They may need to contact their head office or get a second opinion.
Every effort should be made to have the complaint solved by the supplier/trader; however, if the supplier/trader has looked into your complaint fully and it is not resolved to your satisfaction you can bring your complaint to a relevant external dispute resolution body. You can usually phone for advice about your complaint but if it needs an investigation you will probably need to write.
Before phoning or writing to the appropriate external dispute resolution organisation, make sure you have spoken to the supplier/trader and that you have all the relevant documents. You will need to supply as much information as possible. This could include:
- Your contact details - name, address, and phone number
- A brief description of what happened or what went wrong
- How this problem has affected you
- What steps you have already take to sort out the problem
The relevant organisation will look into your problem. If they are unable to help you further they should put you in touch with someone who can. Sometimes there will be complaints which a dispute resolution organisation will have no power to investigate. You should be kpt informed about the progress of the investigation. If the supplier/trader contacts you during this time, you should cooperate and try to get the problem sorted out as quickly as possible.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.