​Tips to help you make a successful complaint about a faulty product or service.

Before you complain

Check what the company's complaints process is – they might have details on their website, or you could call them to check.

Before you make the complaint, get prepared. It can be good to write things down even if you're complaining over the phone or in person, so you know what you want to say.

Or check out our complaint letter templates below. 

Prepare to complain

Get support at any point from:

  • Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) – this is a free, independent service, run by volunteers. CAB can advise you on your consumer rights and obligations, in person, by phone, or online.
  • Community Law Centre – this service offers free one-on-one legal advice to people with limited finances. The organisation has 24 community law centres throughout the country. You can find legal information and other resources on its website.

A CAB near you(external link)  – Citizens Advice Bureau

Our law centres(external link)  – Community Law Centres

Complaining by phone or in person

It's worth having an initial discussion before progressing to a formal complaint. Whether you're just discussing the problem or making a formal complaint, always prepare first. Be clear about what the issue is, when it happened and how you would like it resolved.

Tips on how to discuss a problem

  • Talk to the right person. The person you speak to needs to have the ability to resolve the issue, eg a store manager, business owner or supervisor.
  • Focus on talking about the problem with the product or service, rather than taking issue with a person.
  • Stay calm and reasonable. Explain the problem in detail and provide any evidence you may have.
  • Tell them what outcome you want.
  • Expect questions. A store or service provider may ask you for more details.
  • Ask to speak with someone else if you’re not happy with the way the conversation is going. It’s okay to walk away and come back later, or to follow up in writing.
  • Listen to their response. Ask for time to consider it if you need to.

If you’re not comfortable talking to the store or service provider, take a friend or family member for support.

People who are deaf, hard of hearing, speech-impaired or deafblind can connect with businesses by using the NZ Relay Service. A relay assistant can help arrange communication with others over the phone. The service is free.

NZ Relay Service(external link)

Writing a complaint

Your letter or email should be clear and concise — aim to keep it no longer than a page. It should:

  • include details of the purchase, eg a description of the item or service, purchase date and seller details
  • give a detailed description of the problem and when it occurred
  • be as factual as possible
  • explain what you want done to fix the problem
  • include when you want a reply by
  • include your contact details
  • include copies of your receipts, sales contract or other proof of purchase — don't send originals.

Use these templates and examples to help you write a complaint letter or email:

Template complaint letter for faulty products [DOCX, 19 KB]

Template complaint letter for faulty services [DOCX, 17 KB]

Example complaint letter for faulty products [DOCX, 25 KB]

Example complaint letter for faulty services [DOCX, 23 KB]

Example — Wrong phone plan

When Paul signed up for an internet package, the salesperson tried to upsell him on a package with a fixed phone line. Paul said he didn't want it. But when his first bill arrived, he discovered he was being charged for the package with the phone. He rang the company and calmly explained the situation, telling them he wanted the package he had requested. The customer service representative corrected his plan and updated his bill to the correct amount.