Investigating consumer complaints

Has your complaint been referred to the NSW Fair Trading Operations to determine whether a law enforcement investigation of the trader’s conduct is warranted? If so, here is some information about how your complaint will be investigated.

What happens to my complaint now?

When a complaint is received by Fair Trading Operations it is assessed carefully and the conduct of the trader is examined along with any known history. Then a decision is made as to what action may be needed to address the trader’s conduct and your complaint.

This will be done as quickly as possible. However, if the issues are complex, it may take longer to address them. We will advise you of the result of our assessment.

How is a matter assessed by us?

When a breach of fair trading legislation is examined the severity of the trader’s conduct and history and the harm or damage caused are considered to ensure we take the most appropriate course of action. In all cases the details are recorded so further action can be taken if the trader comes under adverse notice in the future.

After the complaint has been assessed there are several things that can happen, including:

  • investigating the complaint. If this happens you will be contacted by an investigator and kept informed of the progress of the investigation. However, you may not be informed of specific details of the investigation, as to do so may compromise Fair Trading's investigation or possible future compliance activities.
  • adding the complaint to a compliance program targeting specific conduct that has been identified through previous complaints or through monitoring marketplace practices.
  • recording the complaint for future reference and continuing to monitor the trader’s conduct.

Not all complaints are investigated.

Do I need to do anything else?

Often further information is needed. You might be contacted to clarify issues, provide more information or arrange for a time to meet to discuss the matter. It is important if you change address and/or your contact telephone number that you inform us of the new details.

You may be requested to provide copies of letters, documents or other material and may also be asked to sign a statement or swear an affidavit that can be used as evidence in court proceedings. Without evidence, it is unlikely Fair Trading will be able to take action to stop the offending conduct.

If proceedings are taken against the trader you may be asked to attend a court or tribunal hearing to give evidence about your complaint.

You should note that any investigation conducted by Fair Trading may not necessarily give rise to compensation for individuals.  If you are seeking compensation (monetary or otherwise) you may wish to seek your own independent legal advice.

What will we do?

When conducting an investigation Fair Trading will:

  • remain impartial
  • inform you of the relevant time limits during which the investigation has to be completed by us when commencing the investigation
  • keep you informed of the progress of the investigation. However, you may not be informed of specific details of the investigation, as to do so, may compromise Fair Trading’s investigation.
  • balance the investigation with other competing matters and complete the investigation in as timely a manner as possible under the circumstances.

How will I know the result?

Fair Trading will advise you on the outcome of the investigation.  However, you may not be provided with specific details of the end result.  Where it is in the public interest to do so, information on the outcome of an investigation may be released to the general public in accordance with Fair Trading’s Compliance and Enforcement policy.

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