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Understand the complaint process

We give consumers and businesses information to help them resolve marketplace disputes.

A business is considered to be a consumer if:

  • the goods or services are worth $40,000 or less
  • the goods or services are something normally purchased for personal, domestic or household use
  • buying a vehicle or trailer.

If you don’t reach a solution to a dispute, you can lodge an official complaint with us. We then attempt to conciliate the dispute. The more information you give us, the more quickly and accurately we can assess it. This gives you the best chance of getting our help.

We can’t always act on every complaint, but we will log them in our records.

We cannot:

  • make judgments like a Court or judge
  • force a business to compensate you or rectify a problem.

When you complain to us

We will assess your complaint to determine:

  • which issues are in dispute
  • options that may help to resolve it
  • whether someone has broken a law that we have the power to act on
  • if another organisation could better handle the dispute (if so, we refer you to them).

You can complain to us:

  • if you live in Queensland
  • if the business operates from Queensland.

When we contact you

We will contact you after receiving your complaint. This will be to:

  • confirm that we received it
  • give you a file reference number
  • ask your consent, if necessary, to give your contact details to the business (otherwise we may not be able to help you)
  • tell you if we’ve referred your complaint to another body.

If we can’t help you, we will explain why and tell you about any other options you may have.

We normally contact you within ten working days after receiving your complaint. If you have not heard from us by this time, we recommend you call us on 13 QGOV (13 74 68) or email Brisbane.OFT@justice.qld.gov.au to confirm we have received it.

If your complaint leads to an investigation, we will keep you up-to-date about our progress.

How we help

We contact each party to try to resolve the matter.

We aim to resolve most complaints within 30 days. It may take longer if:

  • a complaint is complex
  • the parties don’t cooperate.

Every complaint is unique, so the 30 day timeframe should be treated as a guide only.

Unresolved complaints

If we still can’t resolve a dispute, we can give you advice on what to do next.

This might be:

  • taking the complaint to a tribunal or Court
  • getting your own legal advice.

We can’t force you or the business to take any action.

Alleged breaches of the law

Our main aim with any serious complaint is to stop it happening again.

We may also try to get a remedy for you, but this is a secondary issue for us.

When a business has broken the law, we can:

  • notify them and seek their cooperation to fix the problem
  • get the business to follow the law in the future
  • formally warn them
  • publicly warn consumers not to trade with them
  • issue them with a fine
  • take the business to court to seek a penalty (including compensation in some cases)
  • seek a court order to ban the business from operating.

The action we decide to take depends on several factors. We may consider:

  • if we think the breach was deliberate or not
  • whether they tried to fix the problem before we intervened
  • how many consumers were affected
  • how long the breach had been going on
  • whether the business had committed the breach before.

Interstate businesses

If you’re a Queensland consumer or business and have a problem with an item you bought in another state or territory:

  • we can give you advice about whether the business may have acted inappropriately
  • you can complain to us
  • we will attempt to enter conciliation with the business.

If conciliation doesn’t work, we may contact the fair trading agency in the business’s state or territory. We will notify you and the business. That agency might:

  • attempt conciliation
  • take other actions, if appropriate.

We will usually only refer the matter if we think there has been a significant breach of the law.

ACLink

ACLink is a secure way for us to share information with other fair trading agencies in Australia and New Zealand. It helps us to track consumer fraud and travelling businesses if they go interstate. By lodging a complaint with us, you agree to let us share the information with these other agencies.

The ACLink system will:

  • manage your information with care
  • keep it confidential from any other agency (aside from those on ACLink).

Consumer video resource

Before lodging a formal complaint, watch our video for tips on:

  • using your consumer rights
  • resolving a dispute with a trader
  • how we handle complaints

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Last updated
11 April 2018
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