1 Contact the seller
If there is a consumer problem, a consumer should first write a letter to the seller and/or the manufacturer.
In this letter, a consumer should:
- explain the problem;
- state what remedy they want;
- outline the steps the consumer will take if the seller or manufacturer cannot resolve the problem;
- ask for a response within a reasonable time (e.g. within 10 business days).
Writing a complaint in a letter or email provides a record of the contact.
2 Contact third parties such as the ACCC and Consumer Affairs Victoria
3 Contact industry ombudsmen and dispute resolution schemes
Consumers with legal problems may be able to access the complaints process under the industry Codes of Conduct (e.g. banking, insurance) and ombudsman schemes (e.g. the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, the Energy and Water Ombudsman).
The Australian Financial Complaints Authority provides a free complaints service in the areas of banking, insurance and financial planning.
5 Take legal action and go to court
A consumer may consider taking private legal action for breaches of consumer guarantees but remember that success is not assured.
For small claims in Victoria, go to VCAT.
Small business and consumer disputes can be mediated by the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria.
Also see Chapter 7.4: Taking action as a consumer.