Do you need evidence to support a consumer rights complaint?

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Maybe it’s a complaint about bad service from a tradesman or maybe you’re not getting anywhere with a complaint about something you’ve bought online or you’re in dispute with an organisation such as an energy supplier. You may be finding that your attempts to get it resolved go on and on. The reason you need to keep records in these kinds of instances is that you need to set out everything you do to try to get your complaint dealt with properly.

Keep records of:

  • The times you’ve been on the telephone;
  • How long you spent on the call including the wait to get through
  • What you said and what you were told
  • Who you spoke to.

The same goes for emails or letters you’ve sent and received. Make sure you can show the history of what happened.

Upload any supporting evidence to each record, for example:

  • A screenshot from your phone of the length of each call;
  • Copies of emails/letters, copies of call records you get from a chat call;
  • If you’re put to expense make sure you get a receipt and upload a copy of it;
  • Anything that helps you prove your case and the expense you’ve incurred.

Then you’ve properly prepared when you send in your written complaint or need to take it further if it can’t be sorted out and you have to escalate to an ombudsman or regulator.

Some expert advice

Here’s what Martin Lewis of Money Saving Expert says about complaining about consumer problems:

  • Taking some time to plan your case now is likely to save time and hassle later. Before you start, go through a few simple dos and don’ts to help make your complaint as easy as possible.
  • DO act as soon as possible.
  • DON’T carry on using it.
  • DO keep a diary and log of extra costs.
  • DON’T lose paperwork or evidence.
  • DO say you’re ‘doing it under protest’ if made to spend.

With regard to the diary and log here’s his further advice:

  1. Note down what went wrong, who you spoke to and when and what you agreed, if anything. This is more important if your original agreement was made verbally, as your complaint will be harder to prove.
  2. Also record any extra costs you’ve had to pay, such as phone calls or replacing damaged items, so you can ask for the cash back. Ask to be reimbursed for additional costs. With holidays or fun activities, it’s possible to get extra cash for inconvenience or distress.

In relation to evidence he says:

Stash pics and other evidence to back up your case, such as receipts or terms and conditions. Receipts are not essential to have (or give, although nearly all stores do), but proof of purchase usually is, such as a cheque book stub, bank statement or credit card statement. Don’t post the originals to sellers, because you’ll need a back-up.

ONRECORD is ideally suited to help you follow this guidance.

Dispute resolution

Alternative Dispute Resolution is now available to all businesses to help when a dispute with a consumer cannot be settled directly. A business which is involved in a dispute will now need to make the consumer aware of a relevant certified Alternative Dispute Resolution provider. The business should also let the consumer know whether or not they are prepared to use the Alternative Dispute Resolution provider to deal with the dispute. However, a business is not obliged to use Alternative Dispute Resolution unless it operates in a sector where existing legislation makes it mandatory (for example, financial services).

Ombudsman

If you have exhausted other channels, you may be able to make a complaint to an ombudsman who will investigate complaints about organisations for free and may resolve your complaint. There are different ombudsmen for different sectors.

You can use the Ombudsman Association to find the right ombudsman for your complaint.

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