Dealing with customer complaints

This advice is designed to provide basic guidance to traders. It is not a complete or authoritative statement of the law. Please note that some of the advice we provide to businesses is chargeable.

It may be useful to your business to record details of customer complaints. This can help you identify particular problem areas such as goods or services which are regularly faulty and also alert you if certain customers complain regularly.

There is no legal requirement to keep such a record, but it will help you improve the service to your customers and if you are a member of the Buy With Confidence scheme, having a customer complaints system is one of the rules of the scheme.

Receiving the complaint
  • Listen to the customer's story
  • Ask for invoices/receipts to show date of purchase
  • If customer is angry/upset, refer to manager/owner
  • Examine goods
  • Record details of complaint (including customer's name and address, description of goods, price, brief summary of the problem)
Dealing with the complaint
  • Advise customer of your views
  • Make an offer to customer or explain why you do not feel complaint is justified
  • Give a receipt for goods, explain the length of time any repairs are likely to take and include this on the receipt
  • If you are prepared to give a credit note but no refund - explain why
  • Write on credit note any expiry date

Whatever action you take, if the customer is unhappy, refer them to Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133 or, for members of the Buy With Confidence scheme, the pre-paid postcard in the Customer Leaflet.

Recording the complaint

The details of each complaint can be recorded in a book, on your computer or you may wish to use the form below:

Customer complaint form (PDF)

Customer complaint form (Word)