How to complain effectively

If you're unhappy about your dealings with a business, organisation or government department, you should first raise your concerns directly with them. Most of the time this will resolve the issue.

Before you begin

Remind yourself about the details of your complaint so you can describe it clearly - eg what happened, where and when it happened, what was the impact.

Gather together any documents or other evidence that relates to your complaint - eg contracts, paperwork, receipts, photographs, also dates, times and locations of events.

Think about what you would like to happen next and be prepared to negotiate about that.

Make contact

Visit, phone or send a letter or email. Explain the problem clearly and say what you want done about it. If you’re on the phone and you’re not satisfied with the initial response, ask to speak to a supervisor or a customer service officer.

Consider using the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's interactive complaint letter to write your letter.

If a business has closed down, you can contact the manufacturer directly.

Keep records

Always make a note of your conversations and keep copies of any letters you send or receive. Other things to include:

  • the name and job title of the person you spoke with
  • the dates you made contact
  • what was discussed, including what was said to you.

Escalate the complaint

Most large organisations and businesses have a formal process for resolving complaints. If you’re not satisfied with how the matter is being handled, ask how you can lodge a formal complaint and follow that process.

If you're still not satisfied

If you’ve tried all the options for resolving the matter directly with the business or organisation, and you’re not satisfied with the response, there are further steps you can take.

For consumer disputes, contact CBS by calling 131 882 or use this online form to make an enquiry or complaint.

For other matters, see the list of complaint handling authorities on the Ombudsman SA website.

Related information

Other websites

Complaints and problems - Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

Make a complaint about a financial firm - Australian Financial Complaints Authority

Page last updated 2 August 2022

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