Consumer rights

How to file an effective complaint – Odette Vella

As a consumer, you may encounter various issues with the products or services that you purchase. For example, your new appliance may malfunction due to a defect, or you may experience delays with an order placed, or come with shoddy workmanship.

There are, in fact, countless issues that you may run into, and you may not always be sure what rights you have and what to do in different situations. Some consumers also feel overwhelmed at the thought of having to file a complaint against the merchant.

Here are some steps to guide you on what to do with an issue and how best to protect your consumer rights:

1) The first step is to communicate directly with the merchant with whom you have the dispute. The merchant must be clearly informed of the problem and must always be able to remedy it. At this point, it is important that you know what kind of remedy or remedy you are legally entitled to from the merchant. If you are unsure of your legal rights, seek help from the MCCAA’s Office of Consumer Affairs for information and advice.

2) It is important to remember that consumer law gives you the right to seek redress only if there is something wrong with the goods or services purchased, not if you change your mind about it. ‘buying, or if your circumstances change and you cannot continue with the sale.

3) When you complain to the merchant, you must present all documentation related to the purchase and the problem. One of these documents must be the proof of purchase, as this document proves where and when the problematic good or service was purchased. It also shows the value of the product, which is important if you are requesting a refund for the money you paid. Other important documents include the commercial warranty and the sales contract, if applicable.

Although a complaint can first be filed informally by speaking to the merchant, if this does not lead to an effective solution, then you should submit your complaint in writing.-Odette Vella

4) A fundamental building block for an effective complaint is your attitude. While you must be assertive when asking for a solution, you should never be aggressive. In other words, you should politely inform the trader of the problems encountered and clearly ask them to provide you with a satisfactory solution as soon as possible.

5) In addition, you must address your complaint to a person in authority. There is no point in arguing with a seller who has no authority to give you the remedy you ask for.

6) Although a complaint can first be made informally by talking to the merchant, if this does not lead to an effective solution, then you should submit your complaint in writing. This can be a registered letter, an email with notice of delivery, or any other form of written correspondence, which can be used as proof that you have informed the merchant of your complaint.

In your correspondence, you should state clearly and concisely what the problem is and what you expect from the merchant. You should also include your contact details so the merchant knows how to contact you. Traders should have a few days to assess the demand and find a solution.

7) Whenever possible, you should collect evidence to support your case. This could include receipts, promotional material, photos and other relevant documents. When presenting documents as proof, it is important to never send the original documents but only copies. If you intend to claim compensation for the additional costs incurred, you must justify your claims with the corresponding supporting documents.

8) If, after filing a complaint with the merchant, no agreement is reached, your next step is to file a formal complaint with the Office of Consumer Affairs. Once the complaint is registered, a conciliation procedure begins. During this conciliation, the complaint handling officer communicates directly with the merchant and tries to find an amicable agreement.

The role of the complaints manager is limited to seeking conciliation, but its success often depends on the goodwill of the parties involved in the case. The conciliation procedure can take up to 15 working days but can be extended at the request of the consumer. If the conciliation turns out to be unsuccessful, you will then be offered to withdraw your complaint or to process it through the Consumer Claims Tribunal.

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