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For Immediate Release
February 10, 2006
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

How to Complain


As part of National Consumer Protection Week, Attorney General Curran is advising the public on how they can obtain help with consumer problems or concerns. Each year, the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division receives more than 14,000 complaints from consumers who have experienced problems in the market place. Consumers can contact the Division at 410-528-8662 to discuss their problems and obtain general information on their rights and responsibilities as consumers. Consumers can file complaints with the Division by mail or over the internet here.

While the Division stands ready to assist consumers through its mediation services, many consumers are able to resolve the problems they encounter themselves by following a few simple steps.

First, consumers should keep records of their purchase. Documents such as contracts, receipts, warranty information and repair manuals may provide important information that will help consumers in resolving any disputes that may arise.

Consumers should report problems to the business right away so there's no question about when the problem began. Complaining gives the business the opportunity to correct the problem and keep the consumer as a customer. However, complaining effectively often requires being calm, persistent and well-prepared. When complaining to a business, consumers should state exactly what they want–for example, a refund. If the consumer is not satisfied with the initial response, they can go up the chain of command, speaking with the next person who has authority to make a decision.

While it may be natural to become frustrated or angry to have to tell the story more than once, consumers should stay calm. Success often rests on one’s ability to remain reasonable and coolheaded throughout the process. It’s often helpful for consumers to keep a log, documenting their efforts to resolve the problem, noting the names of people they spoke with, dates, times, and outcomes, such as the date the seller promised to respond.

In some cases, consumers may want to put their complaint "on the record" to let the company know they're serious about pursuing the grievance. A consumer’s typed or neatly written letter to the seller should contain copies (never originals) of relevant documents. As briefly as possible, consumers should describe: the transaction, including place and date of purchase, the product or service purchased, including the model and serial number; the problem; steps they have taken to resolve it; what they want done (refund, credit, repair service, etc.) and how they can be reached, daytime and evenings. Consumers may wish to send the letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, so they can prove the company received the letter. Consumers should keep a copy for their files and after mailing, allow the merchant adequate time to respond before taking further action.

Consumers who receive no reply or an unsatisfactory response, or at any point need assistance, should file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Division. When the Division receives the complaint, it will try to mediate a resolution that is satisfactory to both the consumer and business. If the Division can't help the consumer and business reach an agreement, it can offer information on other alternatives, such as arbitration or going to small claims court.

   

Attorney General of Maryland 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free / TDD: (410) 576-6372
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