Lodge a Complaint
May 5, 2022
Today’s fast paced and diverse economic environment makes it imperative for consumers to be assertive in the market place in order to ensure that they get their money’s worth. In instances consumers are not assertive, the unscrupulous players in market place may exploit this ‘passive’ nature of consumers in order to profiteer at their expense. Hence, the Consumer Council of Fiji habitually reminds consumers of their responsibility to take Action – the responsibility to assert ourselves as consumers and act to ensure that we get a fair deal. This is based on the premise that as long as we remain passive consumers, we will be exploited.
How can consumers exercise their responsibility of action?
Consumers can exercise their responsibility of Action by letting businesses know when they are dissatisfied with their products and services. This is done by lodging complaints either directly with the business or the Consumer Council of Fiji.
What are consumer complaints?
Consumer complaints can be defined as the gaps between what businesses promises in terms of the product or services and what consumers get or expected. It is a mismatch between how consumers perceive the brand and where they fail to get the desired customer service experience. There could be different types of consumer complaints. It could be related but not limited to:
- Improper communication;
- Internal processes; or
- Poor quality of product or service.
Why should consumers show their dissatisfaction via complaints?
- You are letting businesses know that their products and services are not up to par. When you lodge complaints regarding a product or service, you are providing valuable information to the business that their product or service needs to be improved. This in turn ensures businesses improve their products and services – ensuring other consumers are also satisfied and get their moneys worth.
- You are helping create a fairer marketplace by complaining when coming across unfair trading practices. By not being silent and lodging complaints against unethical practices to the Consumer Council of Fiji, you are ensuring that swift actions are taken to weed out such issues and at the same time making sure that other consumers do not fall victims to it.
- You will help make policy changes. Based on the severity and frequency of different types of complaints the Consumer Council of Fiji receives, policy submissions and subsequent lobbying is done by the Council to bring about positive reforms which are in the interests of consumers.
- You have the right to redress. In instances where you have been provided shoddy goods and services or subjected to unfair market practices, you have the right to redress; to receive a fair settlement of just claims, including compensation for misrepresentation, shoddy goods or unsatisfactory services. You can only exercise your right to redress by lodging complaints with the business and when still not satisfied, to the Consumer Council of Fiji.
Why should businesses prioritize complaints?
Learning to value the complaints made by consumers is an important step which businesses can assume to take their company to the next level. When businesses understand how to handle them, complaints can be turned into constructive opportunities for their team and business to grow. Complaints give a first-hand perspective of how your customers feel. Instead of doing expensive market research or running a feedback survey, consumer complaints are actually the real feedback that businesses can get if addressed carefully.
Some key advantages of consumer complaints are:
1. Customer satisfaction enhancement
Many people, when unsatisfied with a product or service, will keep it to themselves and simply stop using that particular product or service or even stop going to a particular business. However, those who do share, usually express not only their own feelings but those of other customers too. So, when businesses address consumer complaints and feedbacks and provide a quick resolution, they are likely to make more than one customer happy. A report by Harvard Business Review showed that when complaints are handled in a timely manner, consumers who filed them usually become more satisfied with the service and more loyal to the company.
2. Product/service upgrade
When consumers report encountering some problems with a product or service, or simply features or aspects they do not like, this should be regarded as an asset to the business. This is because it helps the business to address the problem and innovate and gain competitive edge over their competitors. Consumer complaints serve as a source of insights on what areas should be worked on and upgraded. Additionally, by analyzing complaints, businesses can find new good ideas for improving their product that they have not thought of before.
3. Improvement of policies and procedures
Most companies have a number of policies and procedures designed to make their business run more smoothly. Complaints often highlight flaws in businesses internal processes and contains hints on what is not working or is unclear to consumers. By analyzing this information, businesses will be able to judge which procedures need improving and the ones which should be eliminated as maybe inconvenient or not needed. At the same time, businesses also receive feedback about its staff and whether they manage their responsibilities.
4. Boost in customer communication
Complaints, in the form of feedback, serves as a channel of communication between businesses and consumers. Global statistic shows that the biggest percentage of consumers leave companies because they feel like the latter does not care about them. For many of them, it is important to know that their opinions are taken into account. Furthermore, when consumers know that there is an open line of communication and their input matters, they are more likely to stay loyal to the company and spread the good word.
5. Positive impact on brand image
Having an open channel of communication where consumers can report problems regarding the product, service or bad experiences also positively affects a businesses brand image. It improves reputation and makes businesses more trustworthy and caring.
The more businesses tend to go the extra mile to address the reported issues, the more satisfied consumers will be and happy consumers are more likely to share their good experience with their colleagues, friends, and family, which only helps to spread the word and build reputation.
How can consumers lodge complaints?
Whenever, consumers are dissatisfied with a product, service or feel like they have been treated unfairly, they are encouraged to directly raise the matter with the businesses. In instances where consumers are not happy with the businesses response or do not feel comfortable liaising directly with them, they can lodge complaints with the Council via the following mediums;
- National consumer helpline toll-free number 155;
- Consumer Council of Fiji mobile app (available on google play store); (insert link or QR)
- Consumer Council of Fiji Facebook page; (Link)
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Visit any of our offices in Suva, Lautoka and Labasa; or
- Through our website complaints portal.