What to do when you have a complaint

Consumer, Building and Occupational Services (CBOS) helps consumers and businesses to understand their rights and responsibilities.

We also help to resolve complaints, when you can’t fix the situation with the trader.  Providing as much information as you can with a complaint gives you the best chance of getting our help to sort out your complaint.

We can’t always help every complaint we receive. We cannot:

  • make decisions like a Court or judge
  • force a business to compensate consumers or rectify a problem.

Four steps to making a complaint

Step 1 - Contact the seller or service provider

You should contact the business and explain the issues you are having.  You should also tell them what you would like to happen.  Often a simple phone call or visit in person can fix the problem.

Make sure you speak to a manager or someone who has the authority to address your issue.

The business may need you to provide a ‘proof of purchase’, such as a receipt.  They may discuss the problem with you to determine if it is a minor or major fault. This will help the business decide whether it is appropriate to offer a repair, replacement or refund.

Step 2 - Write to the seller or service provider

Write a letter of complaint to the seller or service provider.  That way, the seller is aware of the problem and what you would like to happen.  It also gives you a copy of your contact with the seller.  As a guide, you can use this sample letter from a consumer to a trader (DOC, 34.5 KB).

It is important to keep a record of:

  • all receipts, quotes, letters, photos and emails relating to the problem
  • notes of any conversations with the business or their sales person, such as:
    • the name of the person you spoke with
    • dates of any meetings
    • what was discussed.

Step 3 - Contact Consumer, Building and Occupational Services, or another third party

If speaking and writing to the business or trader involved does not resolve your problem, you can contact us to seek help.

Lodging a complaint

You may lodge a complaint with CBOS

Once the complaint is made, we will assess it to find:

  • which issues are in dispute
  • options that may help to resolve it
  • whether someone has broken a law
  • if another organisation is more suitable to handle the matter.

You can complain to us:

  • if you live in Tasmania
  • if the business operates from Tasmania.

Step 4 - Take legal action

Consider getting legal advice about what options are available to you.  Your local Community Legal Centre, Legal Aid Office, or your lawyer could give you some advice.

You may wish to take your matter to the civil court but you should make sure you get legal advice first.  Legal action can be expensive and there is no guarantee you will be successful.

Last updated: 16 Aug 2022

This page has been produced and published by the Consumer Building and Occupational Services Division of the Department of Justice. Although every care has been taken in production, no responsibility is accepted for the accuracy, completeness, or relevance to the user's purpose of the information. Those using it for whatever purpose are advised to verify it with the relevant government department, local government body or other source and to obtain any appropriate professional advice. The Crown, its officers, employees and agents do not accept liability however arising, including liability for negligence, for any loss resulting from the use of or reliance upon the information and/or reliance on its availability at any time.