Complain about a trader or business
If you feel you were treated unfairly or unjustly after paying for a product or service, then you should consider making a complaint. Making a complaint might help you get your money back, receive alternative goods or services, or achieve another satisfactory outcome.
Make a complaint online
You can make a complaint against a trader or business on Northern Ireland's Consumerline website. The website offers a wide range of advice and information for consumers - from product warranties and counterfeit goods to false advertising.
You can also find out what to look out for to avoid unfair trading along with details of which organisation to complain to. The site also offers a telephone helpline if you need more guidance.
Write a letter of complaint
If you have a complaint against a trader or a credit company you may need to send a letter. Before you write make sure you:
- have a valid complaint
- have the correct name and address of the trader or the credit company
- have copies of any documents, receipts, guarantees or reports which you may need to send with your letter
- write as soon as you can
- quote your reference or account number if you have one
- keep a copy of your letter
- don’t send original documents
- send your letter by recorded delivery
If you don’t get a reply to your letter write again after a reasonable time, say 14 days.
The Consumerline website has some examples of letters which should help you to sort out your complaint. You can use these to enter your own details and print off a copy for posting.
Industry ombudsman schemes
Many industries have their own ombudsman scheme or other complaint-handling body. These provide an independent and impartial means of resolving disputes outside the courts.
Each ombudsman scheme operates under slightly different rules. But, in general, an ombudsman will not consider a complaint unless the organisation concerned has first been given a reasonable opportunity to deal with it.
The British and Irish Ombudsman Association provides a list of each of these complaint-handling bodies and their contact details.
Report illegal street trading
Illegal street trading may involve trading in a street or public place without a licence. Illegal street traders could be selling counterfeit or faulty goods. You should report illegal street trading to your local council.
The following link will take you to nidirect's list of local councils in Northern Ireland. You can then go to your local council's website where you can find out more.
Reducing spam and email marketing
‘Spam’ is the common name for unrequested and unwanted email.
There are laws on email marketing which give you rights of privacy with respect to the processing and sharing of your personal data by companies.
The responsibility for prohibiting the sending of spam lies with The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) - an independent public body set up to promote access to official information and protect personal information. The ICO website provides general information about spam and gives advice about the steps you can take to prevent or reduce spam.
If you believe you have been affected by a contravention of those laws - that your details were used or shared when they shouldn’t have been, for example - then you can contact the ICO’s complaints service. This gives you the right to ask the Commissioner to exercise enforcement functions.
More useful links
- Making a complaint about air services (travel, transport and roads section)
- Making a complaint about bus or coach services (travel, transport and roads section)
- Making a complaint about rail services (travel, transport and roads section)
- Making a complaint about river and sea services (travel, transport and roads section)