How to Complain Effectively Explainer

How to compalain

How to Complain Effectively, the DGOT Complaints Explainer Guide

One of the things we are asked a lot here at Doesn’t Grow On Trees, is how to complain about poor service and or products, that’s not to say people don’t know how to say they aren’t happy, but its more about getting a resolution to your complaint, such as a refund or replacement, in some cases all we want is a simple apology to out things right.

Well in this little Explainer we are going to give you some useful tips for making a complaint about a product or service.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 

This is a new act, which represents the biggest change in consumer rights law in a generation and seeks to simplify, strengthen and modernise UK consumer law.

The act replaces three big pieces of consumer legislation – the Sale of Goods Act, Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations and the Supply of Goods and Services Act.

The Important Stuff

  • 30 days to get a refund  For the first time a specific timeframe has been created in which you can reject a faulty item and get a full refund – now 30 days
  • A ‘tiered’ remedy system  In place for faulty goods, digital content and services, this means your rights to a refund are now more clearly set out. Whether you’re entitled to a refund depends on how long you’ve owned the product.
  • Failed repairs  After one failed attempt by the retailer to repair or replace a faulty item, you’re entitled to ask for a refund or price reduction.
  • A second repair or replacement  If you don’t want a refund or price reduction, you have the right to request another repair or replacement at no cost to you.
  • Deductions from refunds No deduction can be made from a refund in the first six months after purchase. The only exception to this is motor vehicles, where a reasonable reduction may be made for the use you’ve had of the vehicle.
  • Digital content rights  This new law gives consumers rights in relation to online digital content that is paid for, digital content supplied free with other paid for items and digital content supplied on a physical medium, such as a DVD.
  • Unfair terms in consumer contracts  It will now be easier for consumers to challenge hidden fees and charges.  Now the key terms of a contract, including price, may be assessed for fairness unless they’re both prominent and transparent.
  • Pre-contract information The Consumer Rights Act states that if a retailer provides pre-contract information in relation to a service and the consumer takes this information into account, the service must comply with that information.

What can you do about it?

First of all if you can visit the shop or business where you have bought your product or service, and try and sort it out there and then, however if you have made your purchase online or for whatever reason you can visit the seller, its then advisable to put everything in writing, using this basic set of rule to guide you.

Make sure your complaint is valid: You can’t just complain because you have had a change of heart, or because you now have what I like to call buyers remorse, you must have a valid reason, faulty product or poor service, or even misled or lied to are all good reasons to complain.

Work do you want to get from the complaint: This is very important, decide what you want, and be reasonable about it too, do you want a refund or replacement, or do you just want someone to say sorry, don’t go expecting thousands of pounds of compensation if you just have a minor issue.

Always address a letter to a specific person: Do a little research and send your complaint to the right person, once you have the right contact stay with them, be a pain.

Include your details: Remember to include your full name, address and any account, order or reference numbers, preferably near the top of the letter. If a company cannot easily find you on their systems they may leave you in limbo.

Keep copies: Photocopy all relevant documents – such as receipts, bank statements, order forms and advertisements – and attach them to back up your complaint. If you are seeking redress for a leaking boiler or a new but soiled sofa, include a photo of the damage.

Be polite and reasonable: Whether you are writing or telephoning, stay calm. Intemperate outpourings will give companies an excuse to refuse to deal with you.

Name names: If you mention the unhelpful attitude of, for example, a shop manager or customer services operative, try to include their names..

Set a deadline: Give the company a deadline for sending a useful response – 14 days is fair. Make a note of the date so you can increase the pressure if it is missed.

Make sure your complaint arrives: Send all letters by recorded or special delivery so the firm cannot deny receiving them, and keep a log of whom you wrote or spoke to and when.


What if that fails

You can always take your complaint to one of the regulators or watchdogs, here is a list of some of the most common and we hope useful, if you can’t find the one you need just use our search engine at the very top of this page.

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

The FCA regulates most financial service companies including banks, credit providers, insurance companies and financial advisors. It sets the standards they must meet and can take action against firms if they fail to meet the required standards.

Link: Financial Conduct Authority

Trading Standards

Each individual council runs a trading standards department for its residents. Each region has slightly different processes and priorities, but they all enforce criminal legislation and some may be able to help with individual cases for people who are vulnerable.

Link: Chartered Trading Standards Institute

Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem)

Ofgem is the regulator for Britain’s gas and electricity industries. It aims to promote competition between the big energy companies and provide choice and value for customers.

Link: Ofgem

Office of Water Services (Ofwat)

Ofwat is the regulator of water and sewerage in England and Wales.

Link: Ofwat

Office of Communications (Ofcom)

Ofcom regulates the UK communications industries (television, radio, telecommunications, postal services and wireless communications).

Link: Ofcom

Office of Rail Regulation (Orr)

Orr regulates the railways provided by Network Rail in Britain. It has a ‘Customer Correspondence Team’ that may be able to help with complaints.

Link: Office of Rail Regulation

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)

The CAA is the UK’s aviation regulator and covers airline safety and ensuring civil aviation standards are met. It also has a consumer advice line, 020 7453 6888, to help with complaints to airlines or airports.

Link: Civil Aviation Authority


Phonepayplus is the regulator for premium-rate telecommunications services charged to users’ phone bills or pre-pay accounts. Here we’re talking competitions, TV voting, helplines, adult entertainment, downloads, new alerts or interactive games.

Link: Phonepayplus

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