How to File Consumer Complaints
When and Why to File a Consumer Complaint
By Chris Kramer
If you have been physically injured by product or service, suffered financial losses or been a victim of deceptive business practices of a company, it is important to file a consumer complaint with the correct agency.
Filing a consumer complaint will establish a record of the issue or injury with the appropriate consumer protection agency. By filing a complaint with an agency that monitors business practices, you also help create a broader profile of the business or company in question.
Where to File a Consumer Complaint
The appropriate agency to file your report with depends on which type of product, service or business you need to report.
Where to Report Specific Consumer Issues or Concerns About a Company:
Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection
If you have concerns about a company's deceptive business practices, a report should be filed with the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection.
This agency does not investigate individual consumer complaints, but it is important to report deceptive business practices to the FTC in order to create a record of the bad business practices so that the bureau may investigate the company.
Think of filing this type of complaint as "for the greater good", as it may lead to action by the FTC that will prevent further consumer losses or injuries.
Better Business Bureau
For specific consumer problems with a company regarding a product, service or utility, a complaint with the Better Business Bureau should be filed.
The Better Business Bureau will evaluate your complaint and notify the company in question in order to give the business an opportunity to address and correct the issue. Many consumer complaints involving defective products or unresolved product service issues can be favorably resolved by using the BBB as your liaison with the company in question.
Where to Report Dangerous or Defective Products:
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
If you have the misfortune of purchasing a product that has a dangerous defect or design flaw that has caused an injury or death, an incident report should be filed with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
The CPSC does not handle reports involving motor vehicles, car seats, foods, medicine, cosmetics, medical devices and products or business practices, as these issues are dealt with by other agencies.
The CPSC Web site lists all products that have been recalled on the CPSC Recalls page. Consumers can use this page to find out which products have been recalled and the type of health hazard associated with the product that prompted the product recall.
Where to Report Food and Drug Safety Issues:
The Food and Drug Administration
The FDA is the government agency that regulates the safety and quality of certain foods, medications, medical devices, blood products, vaccines, animal feed products, veterinary drugs and products and that emit radiation.
Any emergency situation regarding a product regulated by the FDA can be reported by calling the FDA's 24-hour emergency hotline at 1-301-443-1240.
For non-emergency situations involving a product regulated by the FDA, a report should be filed with your local district office consumer complaint coordinator.
Problems involving restaurant food are handled by the state department of public health, rather than the FDA.
Medical Adverse Events Reporting
To report non-emergency, significant information about medications, medical products, blood products, biologics, special nutritional products or cosmetics, use the MedWatch online adverse events reporting form 3500. This form should be completed any time there is a quality control problem, or if a patient has a serious reaction to a medication or dies. Instructions on filling out this form are available online.
Any adverse event or problem relating to a vaccine should also be reported to the FDA, in addition to seeking medical help.
If you have had an adverse reaction to a cosmetic product and wish to report it to the FDA, you can do so by sending an e-mail to CAERS@cfsan.fda.gov.
The FDA maintains an online listing of its actions on the FDA Recalls and Safety Alerts Page.
The USDA Food and Safety Inspection Service
The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is the division of the Department of Agriculture that oversees the security of the nation's meat, poultry, and eggs. You may report an incident of spoiled meat, eggs or poultry at the FSIS Web site, fsis.usda.gov.
To report food-borne illness with meats, poultry or eggs by phone, you may call 1-888-674-6854 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Food product complaints that do not concern meat, poultry or eggs, and are not restaurant issues usually fall under the FDA's jurisdiction.
Where to Report Motor Vehicle, Tires and Child Car Seat Problems:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
The NHTSA provides consumers with information about motor vehicle and equipment recalls dating from 1966 to the present. You can use the following links to report a motor vehicle safety problem or learn about recalls.
Where to Report Problems With Recreational Boats and Equipment:
U.S. Coast Guard
The U.S. Coast Guard investigates consumer complaints about recreational boats, and equipment and maintains a recall database on recreational boats. The U.S. Coast Guard also keeps a list of current advisories on its Web site for mariners, www.uscgboating.org.
Where to Report Pesticide Problems:
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The EPA performs environmental research and is the agency responsible for reducing the risk of pesticides. The EPA oversees the nation's , and requires manufacturers to report any problems with pesticides. If you experience any problems with a pesticide, please contact the EPA.
Compensation for Injuries of Death
If you or a family member have been injured or killed due to a defective product, drug or food, or have been a victim of deceptive business practices, you may be entitled to compensation. To contact a personal injury lawyer in your area, give us a call at 877-288-7564 or fill out our simple case evaluation form and we will connect you with help right away.