DCP: Consumers - Complaint Center

Complaint Center
 

Welcome to the Department of Consumer Protection Complaint Center. The Complaint Center tracks, and attempts to resolve, disputes between consumers and businesses operating in Connecticut. Please take a few minutes to learn more about what we do and how you can help us help you. 

 

Tips for Protecting Yourself

The Department of Consumer Protection can not resolve every consumer dispute. We rely on you – the consumer – to help us in our mission. You can do this in a few ways:

  • Do Your Homework:  Before making a significant purchase or hiring a contractor:
    • Research the business you will be dealing with. Ask for references and then contact them. If you are hiring a home improvement or new home construction contractor, visit other job sites they have worked on, if possible.
    • Check that your contractor or licensed professional has an active license or registration. Don’t take their word for it. Even if they give you their license or registration number, you should make sure it is active.
    • Read your contract before you sign and know your rights. Check out our Consumer Fact Sheet: About Consumer Contracts in Connecticut for things to watch out for in everyday consumer contracts. Our Consumer and Publication pages have additional resources to help you protect yourself.   
  • Try To Resolve Your Dispute Yourself:  Most Connecticut businesses are legitimate companies that want satisfied, repeat customers. If you have a problem with a business, call or write them a letter – explain the problem, show them the backup documents if you can and ask for a fair resolution. If you can help yourself, that gives us more time to go after the companies engaged in patterns of fraud or abuse. Read on for tips and resources to help you resolve your dispute.
  • Alert Us To Problems:  Although we cannot solve every problem, we do want to hear about them. From your information, we learn when a business has a pattern of acting badly or a new scam is moving into the State. Where we see a pattern of bad conduct, the law provides us with tools to go after the business, or we can alert the public to protect others from being victimized. Click here to see if your complaint is one we have authority to deal with and, if appropriate, to file a complaint.

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Resources to Help You Resolve Your Dispute

If you have a complaint about a product or service, your first step is to contact the business.  Most companies want satisfied customers who will return with more business. If you can’t return to the store, toll-free phone numbers are usually available on product packaging or on marketing materials; you can even go onto the company’s website for customer service contact information.

    • Inform the business about the problem you have with their product or service as soon as possible. Be specific and focus on your problem. Avoid confusing the issues by telling them information not relevant to your complaint.
    • Although you may be angry or feel cheated, when you talk to the business, be polite, patient, and keep your tone of voice calm and pleasant. Before you call, write down your discussion points so you stay on point and don’t let your anger take over.  If you start off by being hostile or threatening, the customer service representative is more likely to turn defensive, making a resolution less likely.
    • Gather any documents, receipts, and guarantee or warranty information before you call or visit. If you cannot bring in the product, make sure to provide the brand name, model, serial number or any other information that will help identify the product. Take a picture if appropriate and bring it with you. If you are complaining about a service, describe what was promised and what was received and take a picture if possible. It is also helpful to know who sold you the product or who performed the service and the date the transaction or service took place.
    • Before you begin to negotiate, figure out what needs to be done to resolve your problem. Be open to the business’ suggestions; they may offer an acceptable, new solution.
    • Do not demand to speak with the manager immediately. Instead, see if the first person with whom you made contact can help you. If they cannot resolve your complaint, remain calm and then ask to speak with someone who can help you such as a manager. If the business with which you are dealing has a customer service desk, begin there.
    • Inform the business what your needs are and have them offer suggestions for a resolution. Work together to find a solution that fits your needs.
  • How to Write an Effective Letter to Customer Service
    • Focus on the specific problem you have with the business’ product or service. Do not confuse the issue by venting your anger or telling them about other things that may have happened but that are not relevant to solving your problem.
    • Gather any documents, receipts, and guarantee or warranty information relevant to your complaint before you write. Make sure to provide the brand name, model, serial number or any other information that will help identify the product. If you decide to send the company documents, be sure to make copies and keep the originals for your files. 
    • This sample letter shows the format and type of information that will be helpful to a company in resolving your complaint.
  • Consider Going to Small Claims Court
    • If your claim is $5,000 or less ($10,000 for security deposit claims), you can bring suit in small claims court.
    • You do not need a lawyer to file a claim in small claims court.
    • A small claims court judgment can be used to access our home improvement, new home construction, itinerant vendor or real estate guaranty funds.
    • Find more information about small claims proceedings from the Judicial Branch.

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Can the Department of Consumer Protection Help?

Although our Agency’s mission is to protect consumers, we do not have the authority or resources to address every complaint. If we receive a complaint we cannot help with, we will try to refer it to the right federal or state agency, but that could significantly delay the time it takes for you to get the help you need. 

 

Before sending us your complaint, please make sure it is one we can help with. 

  • Some of the Complaints our Agency DOES Handle:
    • Home Improvement Contractor
    • New Home Construction
    • Professionals, Trades People or Contractors that should be licensed or registered with DCP.  Click here for a list of our license types.  (Note, lawyers and health care professionals are not licensed by us)
    • Real estate agents, brokers and appraisers
    • Frauds, scams, misrepresentations or misleading advertisements
    • Prescription errors
    • Gasoline and heating fuel issues.  Note, we do not set prices for these products.
    • Connecticut-based telemarketers and internet retailers
  • Some of the Complaints our Agency Does NOT Handle:
    • Automobile Repair: Unless your automobile repair issue qualifies you for the Lemon Law Program, you should send your complaint to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
    • Banking: The Department of Banking handles complaints against banks or other lending institutions, including mortgage lenders.
    • Credit Cards: The Department of Banking handles complaints against credit card companies and others offering consumer credit.
    • Debt Collectors: The Department of Banking handles complaints against collection agencies.
    • Insurance: The Insurance Department handles insurance related complaints.
    • Internet Retailers located outside Connecticut: We do not have the tools or resources to effectively assist consumers with complaints against internet retailers that do not have a presence in the State.  We refer these complaints to the relevant state’s Attorney General or Consumer Protection agency. For national companies with stores in Connecticut, we can try to be of assistance.  For a more rapid response, you may want to try going directly to the out-of-state consumer protection agency.
    • Telemarketers located outside Connecticut: For “Do Not Call” violations from out-of-state callers, please send your complaint directly with the Federal Trade Commission’s National Do Not Call Registry.

If you do not see your complaint listed in either section above, you can get more information by:

  • Going to our Complaint Forms page and see if your complaint is one of the common types we can or cannot help with.
  • Checking out our A to Z indexLook up words and topics that relate to your complaint to find out your next step.
  • Visiting our Programs and Services or Consumer pages, which list some of the major areas we regulate.
  1. If you have determined that the Department of Consumer Protection can help, download the appropriate Complaint form.    
  2. Send us your complaint in writing with copies of all relevant documents.  We cannot accept complaints by phone. 
  3. Go to Contact Us at the top of your computer screen for our mail and email addresses.


Content Last Modified on 6/18/2013 4:07:37 PM