Resolve your problem or complaint

On this page:

Who to go to for help

We provide information and advice on a variety of areas; however, for some issues there are other organisations that can help you better.

To find the most appropriate organisations to help you with your problem or complaint, view our Who to go for help page.

If your problem or complaint falls within our jurisdiction, follow the steps below.

Step 1: Know your rights

Whether you are a consumer, business, tenant or landlord, our website has:

  • information and advice to help you understand and exercise your consumer rights and comply with your obligations
  • answers to the more common consumer and tenancy questions or problems
  • self-help tools such as mobile apps, videos, forms, checklists and template letters.

Search our information on:

Paid by credit card?

If you are having problems getting a remedy for a product or service that you paid for with your credit card, you can contact your bank or credit card provider for a chargeback. For more information, view our Chargeback page.

Step 2: Speak with the people involved

The business

Explain the problem you have with the product or service by approaching the business directly, either:

  • in person
  • over the phone
  • by email, or the business' social media page.

Make sure you are speaking with someone who has the authority to address your issue, such as the manager.

Depending on the problem, you can ask the business to provide one of the following remedies:

  • refund your money
  • repair your product
  • replace your product
  • fix the work.

Keep notes of your contact with the business, such as the:

  • name of the person you spoke to
  • date of your meeting/phone call/social media post
  • content of your discussion.

Your landlord or property manager

Explain the problem or issue to your landlord, property manager, caravan/residential park owner, or rooming house operator first. Note: This page will now refer to these people as 'landlord and/or property manager'.

  • Ask them to fix it. Landlords and property managers have specific obligations to tenants and residents (see Step 3).
  • Ask when they will be able to resolve your problem.
  • Keep notes of your contract in case you need to refer to them later.

Your owners corporation

Owners corporations have specific procedures for resolving problems. You do not need to follow steps 3 or 4 on this page. For more information, view our Complaint handling in your owners corporation page.

Your retirement village

Retirement villages have specific procedures for resolving problems. You do not need to follow steps 3 or 4 on this page. For more information, view our Resolving disputes in your retirement village page.

Step 3: Write to the people involved

The business

If speaking to the business directly has not resolved the problem, send them a complaint letter or email. Act quickly - delays can sometimes affect your rights.

Putting your complaint in writing is useful because you will have a record:

  • of discussions you had with the business
  • to show a third party if you choose to take your complaint further later on
  • to show that you made a reasonable attempt to resolve the problem yourself.

You can use the following templates:

Your landlord or property manager

Landlords and property managers (estate agents) must meet the terms of their rental agreement and the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.  For more information about these obligations, view our Renting section.

You can use formal written notices to inform them that you have a problem that needs fixing. The notice you use will depend on the problem.

Use our Notice to landlord of rented premises (Word, 1.9MB) to tell your landlord or property manager that:

  • the property needs repairs. For more information, view our Non-urgent repairs page
  • you have arranged and paid for urgent repairs and want them to repay you. For more information, view our Urgent repairs page
  • you have paid utility charges that are not your responsibility and want them to repay you. For more information, view our Utilities, telephone, internet and television in rental properties page
  • you have caused or become aware of damage to the property. This includes damage caused by people you have invited to the property
  • you have signed a tenancy agreement but are not going to move in
  • you are the legal representative or next of kin of a tenant who has died
  • you are going to vacate the property. For more information, view our If the tenant or resident wants to leave.

Use our Notice of breach of duty to landlord of rented premises (Word, 729KB) to tell your landlord or property manager that:

  • the property is not suitable for occupation
  • you have not been allowed quiet enjoyment of the property
  • the property has not been maintained in good repair
  • locks or keys have not been provided.

Tips

  • If your issue is with a franchise (chain store), write to the manager of the store you originally dealt with, and send a copy to its head office.
  • You may want to state that if the business does not reply, you will be taking your complaint further (use one of the options in Step 4).
  • Send your letter by registered post or email and keep a copy for yourself. If you end up taking your complaint further, you will need to show your letter or email to the third party.
  • Contacting a business via its social media page can be an effective way of getting a quick response to your problem. Note: The public nature of social media means that your post may be viewed publicly - whether you contact the business via direct message or not. Consider this carefully when drafting your post.

Timeframes

There is no set 'reasonable' time in which a business must resolve your problem, as this can depend on the product or service and the nature of the remedy.

You should allow enough time for the business to receive and reply to your letter or email and to start making arrangements for a remedy; however, it might be worth sending them a reminder letter or email if you do not hear from them within a week.

Step 4: Taking your problem further

With the business

If the business does not resolve the problem, what you do next depends on how you paid for the product or service.

How you paid

What to do

Via credit card

Contact your bank or credit card provider for a chargeback. This effectively reverses the credit card charge, and is similar to a refund. Act quickly as time limits apply. For more information, view our Chargeback page.

Note: The chargeback process is with your credit card provider, separate from any other dispute resolution process such as those with eBay or PayPal.

Via an online auction house

Most auction houses have a dispute resolution service. For example, you can report a problem to eBay's Resolution Centre up to 45 days after receiving your purchase. If you paid via PayPal, you will be automatically directed from eBay to the PayPal Resolution Centre.

Via PayPal

You can file a dispute through PayPal's Resolution Centre within 180 days of paying for the item.

Note: If your purchase qualifies for PayPal's Buyer Protection, you are covered for the full purchase price and original shipping costs.

Via online cash transfer

If you used an instant cash transfer system (such as Western Union or MoneyGram), or if you deposited your money directly into the seller's bank account, it can be very difficult to track your money once the seller has collected it.

If you used an instant cash transfer system, you can contact the police who may be able to assist.

With your landlord or property manager

You can contact us to discuss your next steps. We may:

  • advise you of the follow-up form you will need to send to the landlord or property manager (for certain situations only)
  • advise you to make an application to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

When we get involved

In some circumstances, we may be able to provide further assistance through voluntary conciliation.

If we decide your problem is suitable for conciliation, we will contact the business or landlord/property manager on your behalf to identify the issues and explore options for a resolution.

We cannot make anyone speak to us and we cannot enforce the outcome, as only a court or tribunal have this power. If our involvement does not resolve the problem, we will generally give you information on taking your complaint further by applying to a court or tribunal, such as VCAT, or getting your own legal advice.

We keep a record of information we receive for our intelligence purposes. For more information, view our Conciliation policy.

We accept complaints when:

  • the problem is about a business or landlord/property manager (we do not accept complaints about consumers or tenants)
  • you have made a reasonable attempt to resolve the problem with the business or landlord/property manager
  • the problem is within our jurisdiction and is not more appropriately handled by another organisation. Check our Who to go to for help page
  • legislation or contractual rights appear to have been breached
  • the problem has a reasonable chance of being resolved
  • you have paid by credit card and a chargeback has failed to resolve the problem
  • the courts or a tribunal have not already ruled on the matter, or there is no case pending.

If you are at the stage where you need us to get involved, complete and submit the relevant complaint form below. Please read the information carefully before you begin the form.

Where to next:

Last updated: 19/02/2017

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