Office of Consumer Affairs
U.S. Department of Commerce
Washington, D.C. 20230

Problems with products or services happen to everyone. These tips will help you resolve your consumer problems.


1. Identify your problem and a fair solution.

2. Gather all your records: receipts, warranties, repair orders, canceled checks, etc.


3. Speak to the salesperson who sold you the product or service. Present your problem, suggest your solution, and supply copies (NOT originals) of documents.

4. Present your information to the department or store manager.

5. If you don't get results, contact the consumer complaint office at the company's headquarters. Many have toll-free telephone numbers.

6. Phone the company for help immediately.

7. Write a letter to follow up your call:

include your name, address, and daytime phone number

type the letter and keep it to one page

be pleasant, but firm

state only the important details and what you want done

include copies of relevant documents

keep a copy for your records

8. If you paid by credit card, notify your credit card company in writing that you dispute the charge. Write within 60 days of receiving your bill.


9. If the company doesn't help, send your complaint to the consumer protection agency where the business is located.

10. Better Business Bureaus, media programs, trade associations, or Federal agencies might also help.*


11. If the amount in dispute is small, small claims court may help. You probably won't need a lawyer and fees are low.

12. As a last resort, talk to a lawyer.

*The Consumer's Resource Handbook, a directory of business and industry consumer contacts and government consumer protection offices, is available free from: Handbook, Consumer Information Center, Pueblo, CO 81009, 1-888-8PUEBLO;

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For more information about the Office of Consumer Affairs, contact:
Office of Consumer Affairs
U.S. Department of Commerce
Room H5718
Washington,DC 20230
Phone: (202) 482-5001
Fax: (202) 482-6007
Consumer Response Line: (202) 482-8021
Web site: