You are here
How to File a Complaint Against Another Business
Comments welcome on this page. See Rules of Conduct.
How to File a Complaint Against Another Business
Business owners are familiar with the adage;the customer is always righ- when it comes to their consumer- but what happens when your business is the customer? If your business has a negative business-to-business (b2b) experience with a supplier, utility company, wholesaler, or consultant, you do have options for reporting and resolving the issue. Read on for details on who to call for help, and tips for resolving conflicts with other businesses.
Businesses are consumers too' and business owners should be aware of their rights as a purchaser of goods and services.
What to Say in a Complaint' and How to Say It
If you have a negative experience with another business, i's widely encouraged to first contact the other business about it. Perhaps they will pleasantly surprise you and handle the issue before it escalates, but if not' alert them of your complaint in writing, and start to document a paper trail of who you spoke with, when you spoke, and what they said.
When filing a complaint with another business, remember to
- Stay focused on the facts.
- Try not to let the exchange get emotional.
- Keep copies of all your records, receipts, and conversations.
If you need pointers on how to get your message across, use this sample complaint letter/email template.
Reporting a Complaint
The following resources are contacts from federal, state, and local government offices that help businesses and individuals protect their consumer interests.
Keep in mind that that many consumer protection offices do not resolve individual complaints on behalf of a person or business, but they may aggregate multiple complaints to help build a case against a particular offender. For immediate resolution of your complaint, see Options for Resolving Business Complaints (below).
- To report unfair or deceptive business practices, contact the local consumer protection office. Many state, city, and county government consumer protection offices investigate unfair or deceptive business practices, educate the public about consumer issues, and propose and regulate consumer protection legislation. Often these activities occur primarily within the offending busines's state Attorney General office, however, some states have multiple consumer protection offices. For a directory of local consumer protection offices in your area, visit consumerprotection.gov.
- To file a complaint with a licensing boar'
Some businesses - like doctors, accountants, beauticians, lawyers - need to obtain professional or occupational licenses to legally operate. For these businesses, there is a typically a licensing board or agency that handles consumer complaints. Contact the state's business license office, at the bottom of the Business.gov License and Permits page, for more information on how to file a complaint with a particular licensing board.
- To file a complaint with the federal government...
The Federal Trade Commission, the nation's consumer protection agency, collects complaints about U.S. companies, business practices, and identity theft through an online complaint form. If you are experiencing problems with a business that is located outside of the U.S., visit the econsumer.gov portal, which allows consumers to report complaints about online and related transactions with foreign companies. For additional resources, consumeraction.gov provides a comprehensive list of federal agencies where you can document a complaint against a business.
Remember, many federal agencies will not act on individual complaints, although they do use complaints to document a pattern of abuse that may allow them to take action against a business.
- To file a complaint with a trade or industry association...
Some trade and industry associations collect and review consumer complaints about their members to help maintain the integrity of their organization. A directory of trade associations is available on consumeraction.gov.
- To file a complaint with a consumer protection organization...
To file a complaint against a U.S. or Canadian business, you can use the Better Business Bureau's online complaint form. When BBB receives a complaint about a business, they alert the business and request its assistance in resolving the problem. Additionally, many consumer protections organizations cater to specific audiences or agendas. Depending on the circumstances of your complaint, you may prefer to contact a national consumer organization.
Options for Resolving Business Complaints
Resolving business conflicts can be costly and time consuming - but it doesn't have to be. Alternative dispute resolution, or ADR, is a popular method of settling differences through arbitration or mediation. Learn more in this brief article, Resolving Business Conflicts - Options Beyond the Court Room.
Depending on the severity of your situation, it may be appropriate to consult a small business lawyer.
- Researching a Company: Finding Consumer Complaints and Corporate Documents
This fact sheet provides guidance on what to information look for - and where to find it - when you're researching another company.