Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Photo of hands and on a mouse and keyboard

We offer an informal complaint resolution service to Washington state residents, and to consumers with complaints about businesses located in Washington state. Through this process, we contact businesses to determine their response to consumer complaints. If a business refuses to respond or to make an adjustment, we cannot compel them to do so. We inform consumers of alternatives if our complaint resolution service is not successful.

The Attorney General's Office is authorized to bring legal action only in the name of the State of Washington, and is prohibited from serving as an attorney for individual consumers. We are further prohibited from giving advice, rendering opinions or interpretations, or conducting research on behalf of individuals or businesses.

Each month our office receives more than 2,000 emails asking for help or information. We have found that many of the constituent inquiries fall into the same categories. In some cases, these inquiries can more efficiently be handled by the agency that specializes in the area of the complaint. In order to help serve you in a more timely manner, we have provided answers to the most asked questions in each of these categories in Help by Topic.



By Mail

Download a PDF file or call to request a form by mail.

800 5th Ave. Suite 2000
Seattle, WA. 98104-3188 

Call with Questions

Our call centers are open M-F 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

  • 1.800.551.4636 (in Washington only)
  • 206.464.6684
  • 1.800.833.6388 (Washington State Relay Service for the hearing impaired)

Complaint Process

We will evaluate your complaint and notify you of your complaint number and provide you with our contact information. If you have new information to provide throughout the process, please include your complaint number on your communication with us to assist us in locating your complaint.

If your complaint is within our area of responsibility:

  1. We will send a copy of your complaint, and any supporting documents, to the business and ask for a response.
  2. We request that the business respond to your complaint within 30 days. If we do not get a response in that timeframe, we will contact the business again.
  3. In many cases the business will respond with a satisfactory solution that we will forward on to you, and the complaint will be closed.
  4. If the business does not respond, or does not respond with a satisfactory solution, we will notify you and your complaint will be closed.
  5. Closed complaints can and do sometimes lead to open investigations and civil enforcement. As a matter of longstanding policy, the AGO does not comment on ongoing investigations, including confirming or denying them. 

What if the business does NOT cooperate?

If the business disagrees with your information or they believe you are not legally entitled to an adjustment, this office cannot compel a firm to resolve a complaint. In such a case, we will inform you of your options. The main option in such disputes is to bring a legal action, such as in Small Claims Court. If the amount claimed by you is over the limit handled by Small Claims Court, a private lawsuit may be necessary. The state Consumer Protection Act provides a remedy for individuals who have been harmed by unfair or deceptive business practices. If you are successful in such a suit you may also recover the costs of bringing suit, including your attorney’s fees.

When does the AGO bring a lawsuit?

Whether or not your individual complaint is resolved to your satisfaction, the basic information on your problem will be retained along with all other complaint information we receive. This information helps us to identify patterns of illegal activity which require enforcement action by the Attorney General’s Office. When such a pattern occurs, we may take more formal action which can include meeting with the firm and their attorney to attempt to resolve the issues. If this fails to resolve our concerns, we may file a lawsuit. Typically, when we file legal action, we may ask that consumers harmed by the practice be compensated, and we may ask that the court order the defendant to pay a civil penalty.

One criterion we use in selecting cases for legal action is the extent to which the activity harms the public as a whole. Another consideration is how likely our action will be in discouraging unfair practices in the future.