Help to Complain

Published Wednesday, 11 June 2014
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Do you know what to do if you want to make a complaint? Perhaps you had problems with your electricity supplier or your flight was delayed. But you don't know who to turn to for help.

The Consumer Council can investigate complaints about buses, trains, planes, ferries, natural gas, electricity, coal or water.

Last year (2013-14) the Consumer Council helped put almost £½ million back into the pockets of 263 consumers. This included payments of £25 for poor customer service and compensation of £200 and above for delayed and cancelled flights.

Our top tips below will prepare you on how to effectively make a complaint against a service you are unhappy with. Not only could this obtain a resolution for you but it could benefit other consumers.

How to complain effectively

- Contact the company involved in the first instance. This gives them an opportunity to resolve the problem and put things right with you. You can make a complaint via telephone, letter or on their website.

Remember, businesses would prefer you to complain and give them an opportunity to address your concerns, rather than risk their reputation being damaging by you telling your family and friends of the poor service you received!

Prepare yourself

- Have the facts clear in your mind. What exactly have they done wrong? What do you think should happen next?

- Make sure you have all the information at hand. If you provide clear facts, such as dates, times and names of individuals involved, this will make investigating and resolving your complaint more straightforward.

Know what to expect

- If you wish to make a complaint, ask the company for a copy of their complaint procedure. Alternatively, this could be available on their website.

Use evidence to help your case

- Retain documentation relating to your complaint, for example receipts, bills etc. This information is extremely useful as it can trace your previous interaction with the company.

- If you are complaining by letter ensure that you explain the problem fully. State what action you have taken so far, who you dealt with and what happened as a result. You can look at our template letters for guidance (

- Keep a copy of any correspondence sent to the company. If you are sending the company important documents, send a photocopy and keep your originals.

- If you are making a complaint by telephone have a pen and paper ready - take note of the operator's name, details of the conversation and the date and time of the call.

Remember: the more detail and evidence you have, the more effective your complaint.

If you are unhappy with the company's response, contact us. We have the legal power to act on your behalf and investigate your complaint in the areas we cover. We also provide a valuable signposting service to consumers who are unsure of the correct organisation to contact about their complaint.

For further information on how to make a complaint, including template letters and success stories, take a look at our website You can also give us a ring on 0800 121 6022 or email us at

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Consumer Council
Consumer Council

The Consumer Council is an independent consumer organisation, working to bring about change to benefit Northern Ireland's consumers.

They aim to make consumer voices heard and make them count.

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