What to Do When a Complaint Falls on Deaf Ears

when complaints land on deaf earsOver this past Thanksgiving, a relative of mine was telling me about a problem he was having with a newer water heater he had installed. It hadn't been working correctly since it was put in.

He wasn't able to resolve the issue with the contractor he'd hired to install the water heater or the company who manufactured it, so he wrote a letter to the state's Attorney General. 

“You did what?” I said, a bit surprised.

“I wrote the Attorney General. Yeah. I've done it before and got my issue resolved.”

This was news to me. Writing your Attorney General to help with a consumer complaint?

Why write your Attorney General?

In my relatives case – he had exhausted all efforts to resolve the malfunctioning water heater. His installer wasn't able to assist – nor was the manufacturer being too helpful.

In most states, the government officials are supposed to be acting on behalf of their constituents. While we could make the case that many of the elect are not doing this – it is ultimately, the responsibility of each office holder.

This is also the case of Attorney Generals – who have been elected by the populace. They advise the government on legal issues and in some states “have executive responsibility for law enforcement, public prosecutions or even ministerial responsibility for legal affairs generally.”

They also can handle consumer complaints. Google “how to file complaint with state attorney general” and you will come up with a list of state Attorney General web pages with specific information on how the general public can file a grievance with a company.

Most advise folks to make sure they've tried all avenues (like my relative had) before contacting them.

While I can only speak from what my relative told me, there are some good reasons to connect with your Attorney General:

  • They carry a lot of authority
  • They may be able to resolve the issue with the product or service provider faster than you could
  • If you have a problem with a product/service – there may be others who have the same issue. This could help the Attorney General bring a lawsuit against the company if need be (which could ultimately protect even more customers from being duped).

My relative got a response from the Attorney General AND the manufacturer in a very timely manner. The manufacturer was served notice the AG had an eye on them – so they were quick to help resolve the matter.

How have you handled a complaint you couldn't get resolved?

Have you ever contacted your state Attorney General OR gone through other free means to help resolve a complaint you couldn't get a resolution on? I'd love to hear your story.

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  1. Thank you for posting this. I was just wondering what to do, since the stupid FitLinxx Pebble I bought pooped out after 3 months.

    Wrote to them twice – no response. It’s annoying to throw 60 bucks plus tax down the drain like that. Wrote to them for the 3rd time today, saying next time I will write to the AG. Don’t know if it will do any good in my particular case, but at least my complaint will be logged.

    PS FitLinxx sends email offers to sell me additional pebbles all the time. They just go deaf when something goes wrong with one of their products, I guess.

  2. Never tried the Ag route, but the Better Business Bureau got results from misdealings with a timeshare company.

    A letter to the editor of a small local newspaper, complaining of a general problem and, just incidentally citing my problem as an example — might get printed. It brings instant results.

    Internet purchases often give an opportunity to rate the purchase. Some companies, interested in high ratings, will resolve problems immediately.

    AG? Great idea, guys!

  3. You guys are awesome. I would have never thought to do that. What an excellent idea. I have had so many issues with contractors. I thought it was me until I checked with others and they too have had the same issues. Even contractors have had these difficulties with contractors. I’m thrilled we all have recourse if needed. Thank you so much! God bless!!

    • Sure – Merry Christmas!

  4. I did use my state’s attorney general’s consumer fraud department once to complain about a contractor who took a deposit and never did the work. I didn’t get any thing back, but the AG’s office did use my case along with others to prosecute the guy for consumer fraud and put him out of business.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience in working with an AG. Looks like it did help protect some other people.

      • Sounds like something I recently am going through trying to get my income tax refund. I was hoping to solve without having to cross any other state lines. With an emphasis of getting equal retribution. With accounts being honorable and justified.

  5. You guys should become a repository for readers experiences with at least
    the major brands. America needs a centralized consumer advocate blog.

    • Hm. That’s a good idea Ron! Thanks for thinking of us in this manner.

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