How to complain if things go wrong!

April 25, 2023

From time to time, problems will arise with goods and services. It can sometimes be easier to stay quiet and not complain if you’re unsure about your rights.

When buying from businesses based in Ireland or the EU, you have strong rights under consumer law. If there’s a valid reason, don’t be shy about making a complaint!

Know your rights

Before making a complaint, it’s important to find out exactly what your consumer rights do and do not cover. For example, if you change your mind about a product you bought in a shop that is not faulty, you generally aren’t entitled to a refund. If you want to return it, it is a matter of the shop’s policy on returns. However if you bought online you are entitled to return it within 14 days for any reason.

Whatever your problem might be, the steps involved are the same.

Step 1: Talk to the shop directly

Your first move should always be to contact the business and speak with them. Explain clearly what the issue is and how you would like them to resolve it. You should give the business the opportunity to fix the problem in the first instance.

Step 2: Write a formal letter of complaint

If you’ve contacted the business directly and are not happy with their response, you can make a formal complaint in writing. You should send this to them by email or post and keep a copy of your complaint.

When writing to the business, you should include all of the details of your complaint and you again set out how you would like the issue resolved.

Be sure to hold on to all information about your complaint. This may include quotations, invoices, receipts, emails, photographs and/or contracts. Keep track of any phone calls or face to face conversations you had with the business, who you spoke to and what was discussed.

Step 3: Taking your complaint further

Many complaints are resolved following discussions with the business. However, if you’re still not satisfied with the outcome you may wish to take further action.

Complaints involving amounts up to €2,000 can be pursued through the Small Claims procedure. For amounts over €2,000, you should seek independent legal advice on your options.

There are also state regulatory bodies for certain goods and services who may be able to help. For example, if your complaint is about an airline flight delay or cancellation, the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) will have information that can help you.

If you believe that a business has breached your consumer rights, you can also report the business to us.

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