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Solving Consumer Problems

Money & Debt

This article provides resources and strategies to solve consumer problems if you are disappointed by a product or service you paid for. This article is written by the Federal Trade Commission.

Return to the Store or Website

You can solve many consumer problems by talking to a store employee, or if you bought the item online, by returning to the website. Do this as soon as possible because some retailers have time limits on returns and refunds.

Online retailers should provide return instructions on the site or on your receipt. When shopping online, it’s wise to consider the company’s reputation and return policy before you buy.

If the employee doesn’t have the authority to help you, ask for a supervisor or manager. With each person, calmly and accurately explain the problem and what you would like them to do. Keep a record of your conversations — who you spoke with and when, and what action they promised.

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Call Customer Service

You may need to speak to someone at the company’s national headquarters or to the manufacturer of the product. Many companies provide a toll-free number or address for their customer service department on the product packaging, warranty, or receipt. If this is not the case:

  • Visit the company's website. Look for a "Contact Us" link.
  • Call 1-800-555-1212 for toll-free directory assistance.

If the first person you speak to can’t help, ask for a supervisor.

Use Social Media

Social media offers an alternative to filing a formal consumer complaint. Many companies have people to monitor posts and complaints about their service on social media pages. Your post will be most effective if you use a reasonable tone and explain the problem clearly. To avoid negative perceptions, the company may respond quickly to your problem. While there is no guarantee, it’s worth a try.

Read more about other options like writing a letter and finding outside help from Solving Consumer Problems at