Commissioner's blog: Don’t complain, lodge a complaint
If you have a bad experience with a business, sharing your story on social media and elsewhere online might seem like a good way to warn others to steer clear, but it may not be the most effective way to have your voice heard.
Consumer laws in WA give us the authority to receive and investigate complaints against traders, before taking the appropriate action – such as an attempt at conciliation, a public naming or even potentially a prosecution in court.
It’s important to remember that defamation laws extend online, meaning that anyone using social media should be careful about what they post. A split-second decision to write or share information online could become a costly move if legal action is pursued by the aggrieved party.
Our work relies on the WA community communicating with us so we can ensure traders are doing the right thing. During a recent investigation of one business, it was discovered more than 100 consumers had complained on a social media group, however only a relatively small number of complaints had been lodged with Consumer Protection.
By lodging a complaint you can help us to better target non-compliant traders through trader engagement and proactive campaigns to prevent ongoing non-compliance. If you have been unable to resolve an issue with a trader, lodging a formal complaint will allow us to attempt to conciliate the matter for you.
This means we will talk to the trader on your behalf to find an outcome that is acceptable to all parties. This is a free service and conciliation is often the most efficient and effective way to handle complaints.
Should a mutual agreement not be possible, then other options may be presented, such as recommending an application be made to the Magistrate’s Court, the State Administrative Tribunal, or seeking independent legal advice. Enforcement action may be considered by Consumer Protection where non-compliance is identified.
More information about your rights and how to make a complaint, including an online complaint form, is available on our website at www.consumerprotection.wa.gov.au. You can also email your query to email@example.com.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection
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