Q: What can Consumer Affairs do and not do when a consumer calls with a complaint?

A: When a consumer sends a complaint to Consumer Affairs, the details are entered into our complaint database system.

The complaint or inquiry is then reviewed by the inspector/enforcement officer. In order for the inspector to advise accordingly, the consumer is asked to provide the following items with their complaint:

- The complainant's full name and contact info.

- The complaint is completely honest and gives all the relevant facts.

- The complainant listens to advice and reasons for recommending a particular course of action.

- Accepts that a solution may not always be forthcoming, especially if no laws have been broken.

- The complainant understands that the Consumer Affairs Office has other clients to deal with and that we will deal with their complaint as quickly as possible.

If the complaint falls outside of our jurisdiction, then the following will take place:

- The consumer will receive practical "first step" advice to assist them to pursue the complaint by other means, including an explanation of the choices and actions that are available to the consumer.

- If the consumer does not achieve a successful outcome, then they will be provided with "next step" advice. This could include writing a complaint letter.

- If the matter still cannot be resolved, the inspector may intervene on the consumer's behalf and mediate.

- If mediation is not successful and the problem is not resolved, then the consumer is asked to seek free legal advice or advised on how to take the matter to small claims court at the Magistrate's Court.

While it can do much to help resolve disputes, Consumer Affairs cannot do the following for complainants:

- Demand refunds, replacements or apologies on your behalf.

- Pursue a complaint which in our opinion is unjustified.

- Give legal advice.

- Act as a legal representative on your behalf.

Rhonda Daniels may be reached at rcdaniels@gov.bm. If you have any questions you would like answered, please email her.