What happens when you complain

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Important notice

Consumer Protection is currently experiencing a high level of demand for its conciliation services which will delay the progress of some complaints. Complaints may be queued and will be allocated in order of priority. 

If you haven’t done so already, please see the Consumer Complaint Checklist for self-help options that may assist you to resolve your complaint sooner.

Consumer Protection works hard to help consumers and shops and businesses resolve disputes by providing relevant information. Sometimes a settlement cannot be reached. In this case a formal complaint can be lodged and the department will then act as an informal negotiator. When the department receives the complaint, it 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; or
  • whether the matter would be better handled by another organisation – in this case the department will refer you to the most appropriate organisation. Our Dispute with a business publication may help you find who would be most suited.

How it works

Consumer Protection will contact each person involved in the dispute to try and 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 this.

If the complaint isn’t resolved

If a mutual agreement is not possible, you will be told about other options that may help, for example tribunals such as the State Administrative Tribunal (read our SAT infosheet), other government departments or independent legal advice.

What if the law has been broken?

In this case, Consumer Protection will inform the shop or business and try to remedy the situation. More action will also be considered if it is necessary to protect other consumers. This may not help to resolve your particular dispute but it will help to prevent future problems for you and for other consumers.

Need some assistance?

Read the Complaints and conciliation: a guide for consumers for more information.

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