Below is our informal guide on how to go about raising your complaint with the organisation you are in dispute with. Unfortunately, complaints can arise in respect of all manner of issues and therefore, there are no definitive rules to fit every situation. As a matter of good practice, we have found that the below steps work well.

Step One

In order to resolve a dispute, you first need to let the other party know that you are unhappy with the situation you find yourself in. This could be because you are not satisfied with an item you have bought or a service that has been provided to you. The other party is not going to take any steps to rectify matters for you unless they are aware that you actually have a problem. You can complain in person, by telephone or in writing; however, it is important that you keep a log of what it said, to whom and when.

It is good practice when complaining to establish the following:

1. Who to address your complaint to within the organisation you are complaining to. Normally correspondence will be sent to the Complaints Department, but it is worthwhile getting hold of the name of a manager or person of authority who deals with complaints so that you can address your complaint to them personally.
2. Establish whether the organisation you are complaining to has a written complaints process. If it does, obtain a copy of the complaints process and follow it.
3. Keep hold of all documentation in relation to the complaint to evidence your case. This may include quotations, photographs of the problem, correspondence, receipts, invoices or bank statements. You may need to provide copies of these to the organisation to support your arguments.

Some good tips to follow when complaining are:

1. Make sure you quote the organisation’s reference number when complaining so they are able to match your complaint up with your order.
2. If you are complaining by phone or in person, take down the full name of the person you are speaking to and their position within the organisation.
3. Explain what has happened, when and who was involved.
4. Explain what steps you have already taken (if any) to resolve the complaint — mention any people within the organisation you have already spoken to.
5. Say what action from the organisation you are looking for to resolve your complaint.
6. Give the organisation a timescale to respond, for example, 14 days.
7. Make a note of when the meeting or telephone call took place or alternatively, if the complaint is in writing, keep a copy.
8. Make a note of the organisation’s response or keep copies of their correspondence.

Step Two

If once you have notified the organisation of your complaint, you do not receive a satisfactory response; you should follow up your complaint in writing. This letter should clearly set out that you are not happy because:

1. The organisation have failed to respond to your complaint at all; or
2. The organisation have responded and proposed a course of action to resolve your complaint, but you are not satisfied with what has been offered; or
3. The organisation have responded but have denied you have a valid dispute
This then clearly notifies the organisation that you are not happy with what has been offered and that you intend to pursue the matter further.

Step Three

You can then take steps to complain to a third party about the organisation. If you have paid for the goods or service by credit card or loan, you can complain to your finance company. Many organisations are members of professional bodies or trade associations and you should take steps to establish there is a professional body or association that regulates the organisation and that will deal with your complaint. Check and see if the organisation is a member of a body, such as the Office of Fair Trading. Certain sectors also have ombudsman services that will deal with complaints. Examples of these include: Ofcom, Ofgem, Financial Services Ombudsman and Otelo.

Step Four

If you have reached the point with your complaint where you have explored the above steps and still have not reached a resolution, it may be time to meet with a legal professional to discuss your complaint further.

Instructing a solicitor is not always the right course of action for every complaint and our expert team will be able to advise you on your next step. This may be advice on pursuing the complaint further yourself; instructing a solicitor to do this for you; or pointing you in the right direction to get an expert report to assess whether you complaint has merit or not.

Jordans will give you pragmatic advice based on the complexity of the dispute; the value at stake; and the reality of achieving your desired result.

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