Commissioner's Blog: How to make a complaint
Consumer Protection regularly reminds consumers in Western Australia about their rights and the regulations in place to protect them, but what happens when you actually need to make a formal complaint about a retailer or business?
The first step in the process is always to approach the trader and attempt to get a remedy for the issue. We have a handy checklist on our website to guide you through the process at www.consumerprotection.wa.gov.au, or you can call us for advice on 1300 304 054.
If you have not been able to resolve the issue with a trader, then you can lodge a formal complaint with Consumer Protection and we may then attempt to conciliate the matter for you.
This means that 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. Most complaints received by the department are resolved in this manner.
When Consumer Protection receives a formal complaint, we will look at it to decide:
- what the dispute is about and options for helping to resolve the issue;
- if there is any applicable law that may have been broken; and
- whether the matter would be better handled by another organisation – in this case the department will refer you to the most appropriate organisation.
Consumer Protection will contact each person involved in the dispute to try to find a satisfactory resolution. While the aim is to resolve most complaints within 30 days, this isn’t always possible if the issue is complicated or there is a lack of co-operation.
Consumer Protection cannot order or direct anyone to resolve the complaint, only a court or a tribunal can do that. If a mutual agreement is not possible then you will be told about other options that may help, for example applications via the Magistrates Court, tribunals such as the State Administrative Tribunal, or other government departments, or independent legal advice.
More action will also be considered if it is necessary to protect other consumers or address market misconduct. This may not help to resolve your particular dispute, but it will help to prevent future problems for you and for other consumers.
We also take proactive steps to ensure traders are doing the right thing. For example, our Trader Engagement Program works with selected traders to ensure they are aware of their obligations under the Australian Consumer Law. We analyse records of enquiries and complaints received from consumers to determine which businesses could benefit from the program.
The program aims to encourage those traders to change their behaviour by identifying conduct that causes, or has the potential to cause, consumer detriment or dissatisfaction and we work with them to ensure future compliance with legislation.
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 call 1300 304 054 or email you query to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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