BBB Tip: How to Complain

  
     

Where do you turn when you have a misunderstanding with a company, store or service provider? Better Business Bureau is here to help ease your frustration when it comes to resolving a dispute with a business. Every year, BBB helps nearly a million people settle disputes with businesses, including problems related to advertising, sales, contracts, customer service, delivery, products, warranties, billing, repairs, refunds, and more.

The following tips will help you avoid or resolve disputes:

Read the ad. Make sure you understand the terms of the offer, sale prices, warranties offered, etc. Advertisers must be truthful in their ads and follow the BBB Code of Advertising on things like prices, sales, underselling claims, free products and service, trade-in allowances, credit, extra charges, bait offers, warranties and guarantees.

Read the contract. If your purchase involves a contract, guarantee or warranty, be sure to read and understand the specifics. If you aren’t sure, ask questions… but make sure all of the details are spelled out in writing. Some contracts include “non-disparagement” clauses that restrict customers from filing complaints or posting reviews online. These may not be enforceable, but you should be aware of any contract terms that limit your rights.

Talk to the business first. Before you file a complaint with BBB or fire off an angry message on social media, try to talk to the business first. Most businesses want to keep you as a customer and will work with you to find a reasonable solution.

Stay calm. Don’t allow your emotions to get in the way of resolving the issue. Customer service representatives can handle a lot, but being emotional can sometimes hinder the process. State the facts of your complaint in a respectable and polite manner.

Know what you want. What resolution are you expecting? You should be ready to answer this question and know what outcome you want. Be reasonable.

File a complaint with BBB. If you’ve tried to resolve the matter with customer service and didn’t receive satisfaction, file a complaint with BBB. BBB works with both parties to attempt to reach a resolution that both find fair. Again, be reasonable.

Keep records. If filing a formal complaint, keep a detailed record of who you spoke with, and save all receipts and proof of purchase. Get as much as you can in writing. Once you submit your complaint to BBB, it cannot be changed so be sure to proofread and include every piece of information that can help your case.

Posting online. Many complaint resources now post complaints online. These include BBB, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and most review sites. Remember that you are legally responsible for what you say, so be sure to be truthful and accurate. Personal comments and accusations are rarely helpful in reaching a resolution.

When to complain. When you want to engage the other party to resolve a difficult issue, a complaint with BBB is appropriate. If you simply want to blow off steam or tell others about your experience, a customer review may be easier and just as effective. BBB offers the chance to post customer reviews, as do many other online sites. 

NOTE: Go to bbb.org/complain to find out what kind of complaints BBB handles, or to get started filing a complaint. 

Last Reviewed:  September 4, 2015