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How to Complain About a Business in the UK

Although most UK businesses are established correctly and the owners properly carry out business activities, there will be circumstances when people want to make a complaint against a business. Customer complaints are more or less the gaps between the products or services a business promises and what customers feel they are getting.

There are many reasons why people complain about a business. But regardless of what the complaint is, it is often recommended that you give the company a chance to set things right. Start by first complaining directly to the business in question.

It would make more sense to put your complaint in writing, either in a letter or by email. If the company has an official complaints procedure, ensure to comply with the instructions and send in your complaint via the company’s official process.

Don’t forget to keep a copy of all the documents you send to the company, things like bills and contracts, and a note of when you sent them. Some companies, especially within the personal finance sector, tend to set a time limit to resolve complaints. If after this you’re still not satisfied with the outcome; you can decide to take the matter forward by sending a complaint to the organizations mentioned below

Different Ways to Complain About a Business in the UK

  1. Send a Complaint to Companies House

You can send complaints about businesses in the United Kingdom to Companies House to handle. Howbeit, have it in mind that Companies House only handles issues concerning registered businesses. They won’t be of any help if your complaint is against a sole trader or partnership in the UK.

  1. Send a Complaints to Trading Standards

If you are looking to take an issue relating to a business’s general trading activities further, then it is recommended you consider sending your complaint to the local trading standards office. They are tasked with handling complaints relating to incorrect goods, scams, and unfair trading.

Just as it was noted above, where possible it is imperative you try to resolve the issue with the business directly, but when that route fails to produce the result or resolution you like, you can then consider reporting the business to trading standards.

  1. Send a Complaints to the Insolvency Service

Have it in mind that they are tasked with handling issues relating to a serious breach of the law. Therefore, if you are looking to take such a matter further, you should consider sending a complaint to the insolvency service. Issues they may handle include;

  • A business has a disqualified director involved in the management of the company.
  • The business is causing harm to suppliers or customers
  • The business breaks the law or is committing fraud (serious fraud should be reported to The Serious Fraud Office)
  • Has significant irregularity with its accounts or reports

Tips to Help You Complain About a Business in the UK

Whether you are looking to complain about a business or you are in progress already, here are a few ways to get the outcome you’re looking for.

  1. Be Calm and Focus On The Outcome

It can be quite daunting to deal with companies that you might end up getting frustrated and angry. However, you must remain calm. Note that if you’re angry and raining insults, you make it very challenging to find a positive resolution to your issue.

Don’t forget that the people you’re speaking to are people too. Always remember to keep your language polite and be fair and reasonable. Also, make sure you know beforehand what you’re willing to accept, and do not be scared to state it.

  1. Speak To the Manager

Just as was noted above, before you decide to take any matter further, it is important you first speak directly to the manager first. Obtain any receipts or order forms and check if there is any information regarding the business’s policy on returns or complaints.

Also, try to find out who is the best person to make your complaint to. Most businesses have a customer service manager, a refunds desk; or in the case of a small business, you should consider speaking with the owner. For online retailers, you’ll usually find a contacts form on the website’s help section.

  1. Understand What You Want to Achieve

Although you might be feeling angry or frustrated, you must understand what you want to achieve with your complaint. Do you want a refund, replacement, compensation, or just an apology? Regardless of the outcome you want, it is always important that you act quickly or you will lose your entitlement.

If you complain by telephone, don’t forget to keep a note of the name of the person you spoke to and when, and follow up the call with a letter still noting your complaint and the telephone response.

  1. Put Your Complaint in Writing

If after complaining to the company or the owner directly, you are still not satisfied with the outcome, you can make an official complaint in writing. Note that you can forward this written complaint by post or email. Before you go about penning down your complaint, you must make sure you:

  • Have a valid complaint
  • Have the right name and address of the trader or the credit company
  • Have copies of any documents, receipts, guarantees, or reports that you may need to send with your letter.
  1. Use an ADR Scheme

Note that businesses within some sectors are mandated to make available an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) service. In addition, there are mediation and arbitration schemes, especially if the business is part of a trade association.

Have in mind that these schemes can help both parties to seek a more harmonious solution, and also provide independent arbitration to adjudicate a dispute. Also, note that the decision reached by the arbitrator is binding on both parties. If you’re not satisfied with the outcome, you won’t be able to take the matter to court afterward, or use an ombudsman service.

  1. Refer to an Ombudsman

Before you go to an ombudsman, you are expected to have reached a brick wall with the company. This may include exhausting a business’s official complaints procedure or must have gotten to a point where the business believes that it can do nothing more to rectify the situation.

Ombudsmen can serve as independent referees, and they tend to analyze both sides of the dispute to proffer a solution. Most often, they only act when service or administrative errors have occurred. Also, note that every ombudsmen service features slightly different requirements and conditions, especially in terms of timing.

  1. Use the Small Claims Court

You can use the small claims court as the last resort after you must exhausted all possible settlement means, or if you feel that a company has breached its contract.

However, before you go on to take the case to the small claims court, it is important to show you have exhausted all other routes to seek redress. According to reports, the total amount of money you can obtain in the small claims court in England and Wales is £10,000, in Scotland, it’s £5,000, and in Northern Ireland, it is £3,000.


A good number of large companies care less about complaints. Regardless of how important your complaint is to you, it will just be added to the truck of papers expected to be handled by a stressed-out customer services worker. To make sure your complaint makes the maximum impact, it is imperative to know how to air your grievances effectively. Considering the steps and information noted above, you are more likely to get your issues sorted.