Talk to the business first

Preparing your complaint

Make sure you know your consumer rights.

Be clear about what the problem is and decide on a reasonable way to resolve it. You might want:

  • a refund
  • a free repair
  • the job done again for free.

Gather your evidence. Think about what would support your argument, such as:

  • proof of purchase (such as a receipt)
  • evidence of the fault or problem (such as photos or video).

You should start thinking about how to store or file your evidence. This is important, because you may need to take the matter further if you can’t resolve it now.

Keep records or even a complaint diary. Use them to log:

  • what happened
  • when it happened
  • who you spoke to.

This will help to jog your memory about your complaint.

Make the complaint as soon as possible.

Making the complaint

Complaining in person

You can complain in person by visiting their store, workshop or office.

Some tips if you do:

  • Decide in advance what solution you want. Do you want a refund, a repair or an exchange? Do you want them to do the job again, but get it right this time?
  • If the problem is with an item you bought, bring it with you to show them.
  • Bring your receipt and any other documents you might need.
  • Remember what day and time you went in, and who you spoke to. Write it all down so you don’t forget.
  • Remember anything they say to you, including anything they promise.

Be polite but assertive. Focus on getting the outcome you want, instead of getting angry, sarcastic or annoyed.

For a serious matter, you should follow up your visit with a letter.

Complaining by phone

If you want to complain over the phone, you should:

  • make a note of what you want to say
  • keep your receipts and any other documents handy
  • get the name of the person you speak to
  • note the date and time
  • write down what you say and what they say.

Be polite but assertive. Focus on getting the outcome you want, instead of feeling angry or annoyed.

For a serious matter, you should follow up your phone call with a letter.

Complaining in writing

A complaint letter or email should be clear and factual. It needs to outline:

  • what the item or service was
  • where and when you bought it
  • how much it cost
  • what is wrong with it
  • what action you've already taken
  • who you spoke to (if relevant) and what happened
  • what you want done to remedy the situation.
  • when you expect them to respond (give them around 10 working days).

When you send your letter:

  • use registered mail, or send the letter with proof of posting from the post office
  • keep copies of any letters you send
  • send photocopies of receipts or other documents, not the original documents.

Maintain a polite, professional tone in your letter.

Taking it further

Sometimes the business won’t help. If this happens, you can make a complaint to the industry association that the business belongs to.

Contact list of industry associations