In a day and age when goods and services are evolving rapidly, consumers have more options than ever. At the same time, consumers are much more vulnerable. Faulty products, shoddy service, and outright fraud can cost time, money and peace of mind.
Fortunately, there are laws in place to protect consumers from manufacturers, merchants and service providers who fail to hold up their end of the bargain. Consumer complaints are one of the ways in which these laws are enforced.
If you find yourself on the receiving end of faulty goods or services, the options available to you will vary by State. But have no doubt—when a business or service provider is negligent or at fault, you do have options.
Many people make the mistake of thinking that certain companies or service providers are too big to take on, and that there is no recourse for getting a raw deal. The fact is, complaints are an effective way to enforce your rights, secure the compensation you legally deserve, and hold businesses accountable for unacceptable business practices.
So how do you know when consumer complaints are the right path for you to take?
First off, it pays to familiarize yourself with the most common types of consumer complaints. The auto industry, home improvement, and retail are three areas where consumer complaints are common. Other areas include credit and debt services, utilities, e-commerce, real estate, and outright fraud. For a more in-depth look, check out Forbes’ list of top 10 consumer complaints.
Once an individual decides to move forward with a complaint, he or she may choose to approach an attorney who specializes in handling consumer complaints. There are a few disadvantages to this. Many States make it easy for people to file complaints directly, and some even accept electronic submissions on their web sites. Also, filing complaints independently allows people to avoid paying attorney fees—and after getting the short end of the stick already, the last thing many people want to do is pay more to try and resolve the situation.
However, there are also advantage to working with an attorney on consumer complaints. First off, an experienced attorney will often have a good idea of a complaint’s validity, and what results can be expected. Many States have specialized laws and consumer protection statutes (go here for legal services on complaints specific to New Jersey). An experienced attorney is well-voiced in these laws, and therefore able to provide direct insight on various types of consumer complaints.
The filing process is another area where having an attorney can be a plus. Most filing processes for consumer complaints have specific requirements, and require detailed documentation.
Complaints that are improperly filed or badly documented can meet with legal roadblocks, especially of the defending party has legal help. For complaints that have substantial value, an attorney is sometimes a worthwhile investment.
Whether or not you should consider hiring an attorney to defend your rights as a consumer depends on a number of factors, including the nature of the complaint, precedents which may exist, and your desired level of involvement in the details of the process. The good news is, many law offices will review consumer complaints cases for free. This allows consumers to get a better idea of their case, and what it will involve, before moving forward.