SmartLaw: Attorney and Lawyer Referral Service. Divorce, bankruptcy, criminal, accident, business
The Los Angeles County Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service, the largest and oldest such service in the United States, has hundreds of pre-screened, qualified and insured lawyers in the Los Angeles area who can help you with your legal issues. Contact us now and our courteous, professionally trained staff will help you connect you with the right lawyer. The LRIS is a nonprofit public service of LACBA.

#329 Consumer complaints

mp3 #329 How to Handle Your Own Consumer Complaint (mp3 file)

If you are handling your own complaint as a consumer, the first step is to identify the specific problem you have having (i.e., the product you bought is defective; the dry cleaner ruined your leather coat and refuses to replace it; the landlord refuses to return the unused portion of your cleaning deposit).

The second step is to collect evidence or data that supports your claim. This material would include sales receipts, repair orders, contracts, or guarantee claims.

The third step is to plan your strategy.

Ask yourself how you want the problem solved. For example, you want a defective product replaced, a service performed again, or a specific amount of money given to you. In short, know exactly what you want. Make sure that what you want is reasonable - unrealistic demands can often hamper effective resolution of your contract (i.e., if you had a television that is repairable, an unreasonable demand would be that the television be replaced with a new one).

Identifying resources. You should find out if any laws relate to your particular situation. If there is legal support for your case, it obviously strengthens your position and this information may impress the party against whom you have lodged your complaint. Other resources include witnesses, expert opinions and appraisals, and free legal help.

Ask yourself if you have all the information you need to work on your problem. If the answer is no, you can contact your library for information such as where the closed consumer relations section of the company is, or you may wish to contact your local consumer protection agency for pertinent laws or the name of the appropriate jurisdictional agency.

If the answer if yes, you should proceed to the source of your complaint (i.e., take the defective product back to the place of purchase).

When you register a complaint, be well organized.

* Pursue your complaint as soon as possible, while it's still fresh in your mind.

* Explain the problem clearly and without hesitation.

* Be courteous, yet firm in your approach.

* Be in control of your emotions.

* Have all your supporting documents in appropriate order.

* Listen carefully to what you are offered to settle your problem. Does it sound acceptable?

* Be willing to compromise when it is in order. Compromise is most appropriate when you are partially at fault, or when you will get nothing without compromising.

* When you register a complaint, if possible first talk to the clerk who helped you.

* If the clerk cannot help you, complaint to the manager.

* If the manager can't help you, go to the next level of authority all the way up the line until you get satisfaction.

* Always be persistent even if your initial efforts have been rebuffed. You must remember that you are probably prepared to give your own problem more attention than others who eventually might handle your case.

* Wait a reasonable amount of time for your complaint to be settled.

If you are expressing your complaint by letter, make sure it's clearly written and includes such information as in the following sample letter:

Dear sir or madam:

The purpose of this letter is to inform you of my dissatisfaction with (here give the name of the product with serial number or the service performed) which I purchased (here give the date and location of purchase).

My complaint concerns (here give the reason for your complaint). In order to solve the problem, I would like (here give specific action you desire for satisfaction).

I look forward to your reply and resolution to my complaint and will allow two weeks before referring it to the appropriate consumer agency.


(Here give your name and your address)

(Include copies of all related records. Do not send originals.)


Finally, contact your local consumer group or consumer protection agency. If your own efforts do not prove successful, you may wish to contact your local consumer protection agency, or other agencies which handle your particular problem. If your area has no local agency, you can contact the California department of consumer affairs, in Sacramento via their website

Back to Top