Imagine spending most of your hard-earned money on a product or service you're dying for and one week later finding out it is worthless. What should you do? The following information could help solve your problem.

CONSUMER COMPLAINT STEPS

• Step One: Complain as soon as possible. This increases your chance for a satisfactory settlement. If you postpone complaining, the company may not be responsible for solving your problem.
• Step Two: Contact the merchant who sold you the product or service by phone. Be prepared to answer any questions they may have. Clearly present your problem, and make sure relevant information is on hand, including: a description of the item model and/or serial number, account number, receipt, billing statement or canceled check. Have a clear, brief explanation of what the problem is and how you want the merchant to respond.
• Step Three: If phone contact is unsuccessful, try to go to the merchant in person and ask to speak to the manager or a supervisor.
• Step Four: If your first two attempts result in failure, it is time to put your complaint in writing. The letter may be sent to the merchant or the manufacturer. Complaint letters are important because a business may ignore a complaint if it is not in writing. Sometimes the person who has the authority to solve the problem may not be aware of your complaint, and a letter brings it to their attention.

WHAT TO INCLUDE IN A COMPLAINT LETTER

• Your name, address, home and work phone numbers, including when you can be reached
• Your account number, if applicable
• A brief explanation of the problem and important facts
• The model, make, and serial number of the item
• A description of what you have done to resolve the problem
• How you would like the problem resolved
• Copies of all related documents (keep the originals for future reference)
• If your complaint is concerning a service, include a description of the service and the name of the person who performed it.

In most cases, a letter will result in a satisfactory settlement. However, if the manufacturer or business does not cooperate, you may want to take additional steps.

ADDITIONAL STEPS

Contact the Better Business Bureau. Their services are free and they may be able to assist you in finding a resolution to your problem. You may contact the Consumer Protection Agency of your state's Attorney General's office to file a formal complaint, or you may file in Small Claims Court.

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