• Steps for filing consumer complaints

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  • Fort Leavenworth Legal Assistance Office
    They told you that sound would “work itself out.” After three months, you took the car to a mechanic who informed you that the sound is only going away if the engine is rebuilt. If you do that, then the car will work fine — they think.
    If you have ever felt that a business lied to you, cheated you or failed to uphold its end of a bargain, you probably wondered what you could do. Should you charge in demanding to see the manager, hire a lawyer or call the police? There are plenty of options, but the first, often-overlooked, step is simple: breathe. A level head is going to solve far more than an active volcano, and result in fewer burns.
    Most businesses operate with honesty and integrity. However, there are exceptions. Because military members and their families are frequently the target of consumer offers, it is important to know what to do if you feel that you have been cheated.
    Talking to someone is a good first step. A friend or family member may have insight or a new perspective that can help. Getting your thoughts in order is also vital. Regardless of how you choose to continue, you will need to have a coherent explanation of the history, circumstances and specific facts that led to the dispute. Once you have a clear story, you can confront the problem effectively and productively.
    Many times, the first remedy you should seek is through the company. Most companies have a local manager you can speak with, but if the manager cannot resolve the issue, you can escalate within the organization. Larger companies typically have a corporate headquarters that looks into customer issues. Contact information for this office is usually online.
    For small businesses, you can often speak with one of the owners personally. You and the business may be able to resolve the issue without getting a third party involved. Often, the situation results from a misunderstanding that can be resolved quickly and efficiently.
    Talking to an attorney is always a reasonable option and one that should be pursued before taking any legal action. An attorney can provide not only legal advice, but also practical advice on resolving the disagreement. On the civilian side, many attorneys offer free initial consultations so that you can get a better assessment of your situation. For military members, retirees and their families, the local Staff Judge Advocate’s Legal Assistance Office can offer free advice on how to handle the situation.
    Most problems can be solved without involving the state. Sometimes, however, a case is so egregious that a complaint should be filed. Consumers in Kansas can file a complaint at the Kansas Office of the Attorney General, 120 S.W. 10th Street, 2nd Floor, Topeka, Kan. 66612. The Consumer Hotline is (785) 296-3751 or (800) 432-2310. A consumer complaint form is available online at http://www.ksag.org/page/file-a-consumer-complaint.
    Page 2 of 2 - You can also contact the Better Business Bureau to file a complaint. For businesses in the Greater Kansas City Region, which includes Leavenworth County, Wyandotte County, Platte County, and both Kansas City, Kan. and Kansas City, Mo., contact the Better Business Bureau of Greater Kansas City, 8080 Ward Parkway, Suite 401, Kansas City, Mo. 64114, (816) 421-7800. You can also file a complaint at http://kansascity.bbb.org.
    For businesses on post that operate under the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, you can generally contact the Exchange manager at 684-3249 for guidance. On-post businesses that are not under AAFES can be addressed through one of the other two methods listed above.
    If you believe you have been wronged, exercise your rights. Most of the time, it is best to try informal methods before filing a formal complaint. Before you do anything else, talk to a friend, the company’s manager or an attorney. If you are unable to resolve the matter, you have the right to file a complaint. Remember, you can always seek help from the Legal Assistance Office at the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate by calling 684-4944.
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