Steps to follow before you raise an issue with a business about a product or service.

You can raise an issue in writing, face-to-face or over the phone. Before you do, make sure you're prepared. If the problem is complicated or potentially worth a lot of money, consider getting legal advice.

To resolve an issue as quickly and easily as possible, you need to:

  1. Verify you have an issue.
  2. Decide the outcome you want.
  3. Gather your evidence.
  4. Contact the retailer or service provider.
  5. Work together to resolve the problem.

These steps are in our visual guide, and written out in more detail below.

Visual guide: Five steps to resolve an issue

Visual guide: Steps to resolve a problem - mobile launcher

Click to see how to sort out a faulty product or sub-standard service. Expand to view larger version

1. Verify you have an issue

Make sure you have a valid reason to complain. Consumer law doesn't apply if you caused the damage or lost an item.

If it is a valid complaint, it helps if you:

  • can prove purchase details
  • have been using the product or service as intended

Check you have a case

2. Decide the outcome you want

Think about what it would take to make it right. Do you want:

  • a refund
  • repairs or improvements
  • a replacement.

Be reasonable in what you ask for. Make sure what you're asking for is in proportion to the size of the issue. If you're offered repairs but don't want that, explain why it's not a satisfactory outcome for you.

3. Gather evidence and write a description of the issue

You should write down in detail what the problem is with the item or service. Include details like:

  • a description of the item or service
  • date of purchase
  • date the problem occurred
  • what you've done so far
  • details of any official conversations you've had about it
  • any reference number
  • what you would like done about the issue.

Check what your legal rights are. Make a note of which law(s) apply to your problem. You might want to name that law when making the complaint.

Consumer laws

Keeping records

Keep any documents that relate to your complaint, and take them with you or include copies when you make your official complaint. Keep things like:

  • sales dockets, receipts and invoices
  • hire purchase agreements or credit contracts
  • layby agreements
  • guarantees
  • bank statements if the dispute is over a payment or account.

4. Contact the retailer or service provider

Once you've got all your evidence together and know what outcome you want, contact the seller to discuss the issue.

Check our Resolve a problem tool, which outlines the process to follow for issues with different industries.

Resolve a problem