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How to Complain Effectively

A consumer's guide to handling complaints about merchandise or service

Almost everyone is dissatisfied at one time or another with a purchase. This guide seeks to help consumers solve their problems by presenting their complaints effectively.  Each year the Consumer Protection Division handles thousands of complaints and saves consumers thousands of dollars.  Perhaps this guide can help you.

Before you make a purchase

  • Comparison shop for the best price and services.
  • Ask the store for its policy on refunds, exchanges, repairs, and guarantees.

When you make a purchase

  • Save all receipts, contracts, warranties, emails, advertisements-anything related to the purchase.
  • Save the documents for ALL your purchases in one location.

How to register your complaint with the merchant

  • Pursue your complaint immediately.
  • Act while details are fresh in your mind and the merchandise is in its original package.
  • Keep a complete record of your complaint.
  • Save copies of any correspondence you send or receive.
  • Keep track of the names and dates of all persons with whom you communicate.
  • Explain your problem clearly. Have your supporting facts and documents in order. Losing your temper will only aggravate matters.
  • Complain to the right person. Take your problem to the salesperson, supervisor or manager.
  • If you still are not satisfied, contact the owner, regional representatives or company officers.
  • Carefully consider any offers to settle your complaint. If your claim in full is rejected, consider suggesting a fair partial settlement.

After you have made a careful attempt to settle your complaint directly, contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division

To file a consumer fraud complaint with the Consumer Protection Division, provide a written, detailed description of the problem and supporting documentation (if available). Please include the following:

  • Identify the name, current address, phone number, website and email address of the business.
  • Describe the problem in detail in chronological order.
  • Explain what you would like the business to do to satisfactorily resolve the problem.
  • Include copies of all documents relevant to your complaint, including receipts, contracts, bills, letters,  emails, advertisements, etc.
  • If you submit a mailed complaint, please print it or make sure your handwriting is legible.

To file a complaint online or to download a complaint form, click here.




888-777-4590 (outside of the Des Moines metro area)



Office of the Attorney General of Iowa
Consumer Protection Division
Hoover State Office Building
1305 E. Walnut Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0106


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