HELP US HELP YOU
When you are misled or treated unfairly, you have a right to complain. Complaining might be the only way to solve your problem. Many times complaints result from honest misunderstanding or unintentional errors. By brining your complain to the attention of the business, we can often resolve your problem. Most businesses want to know when you're dissatisfied and are often willing to adjust your complaint.
At the same time, there are some merchants who use unfair practices to take hard earned money from consumers and honest businesses each year. Their success depends on consumers not reporting them. In short, for us to effectively fight consumer fraud we first have to hear about it.
COMPLAINTS HELP PROTECT OTHERS
Complaining also helps protect other consumers from being victimized. Your complaints and those of other citizens help the office obtain information about statewide fraudulent schemes and discover patterns of illegal business conduct. The office can then move quickly to stop the practice before others get hurt. Even if your complaint can't be resolved, or you think it is unimportant, we are interested in hearing about it. Complaints filed with a number of state consumer protection agencies are entered into the Cooperative Consumer Protection Data Bank. By contacting our office, you can find out the number of complaints filed against a specific business or person.
HOW TO FILE A COMPLAINT
To file a complaint, you need to complete a complaint questionnaire or send us written information which provides:
Your Name, address (including zip code) and telephone number.
The name, address and telephone number of the Company or person you want to file a complaint against.
The date of the transaction (the date the problem occurred).
Where the transaction took place. Was it at your home, at the firm's place of business, over the telephone?
Whether you have contacted the Company or person about your complaint.
A brief description about what happened. Including readable copies of all documents relating to the complain, such as receipts, warranties, sales slips, ads, any papers you may have signed, cancelled checks or copies of letters between you and the Company.
What you feel would be a fair settlement of your complaint.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
After we receive your complaint, we contact the business or person you are complaining about for information. We inform you of these contacts as they are made. Often, mediation encourages communication and a solution is reached.
If we decide your complaint should be handled by another agency, we will forward your problem to the appropriate agency and tell you where we have sent it.
If your complaint involves violations of state consumer laws, we may start an investigation to gather more information. Depending upon the nature and seriousness of the violation, we may start a lawsuit to halt the practices before others are hurt. Our office can sometimes ask the Court to order the business to return money lost by consumers.
Remember, we cannot give legal advice or serve as your private attorney. Since we may not necessarily take any legal action on your complaint and the business you complained against may be unwilling to settle, you may also wish to take additional steps to resolve your complaint. You can:
- Discuss the complaint with a lawyer in private practice.
- Take action in Small Claims Court if it has power to hear you complaint.
THERE OUGHT TO BE A LAW
Information and complaints from consumers can lead to development of new laws to protect consumers. For example, consumer complaints were in large part responsible for new laws related to mail order sales, rust proofing and the lemon law.
The law can only provide so much protection and much of this protection after the fact. The rest is up to you. The best way to avoid being cheated or taken advantage of is to know your rights ahead of time. To get a complaint form or information on a variety of consumer topics, contact the Office of Consumer Protection, P.O. Box 7856, Madison, WI 53707-7856 or call (608) 266-1852. Those outside the Madison area call toll-free at 1-800-362-8189.