The Consumer Rights Act

What happens if I can't resolve a customer complaint?


If you have tried to resolve a customer's complaint but the situation is 'deadlocked', then what happens next will depend on whether:

  • you have acted properly
  • the customer decides to pursue the matter

If you accept that the customer's claim was valid under the Consumer Rights Act - but are confident that you have offered the necessary refund, repair or replacement - you may have met your legal obligations even if the customer refuses to accept that.

However, if you're uncertain that what you have offered is sufficient, you should seek advice from Consumerline.

Small claims

If a customer does decide to pursue a claim, they can use the small claims procedure for goods up to a maximum value of £3,000. You can choose either to defend the claim yourself or appoint someone to represent you. Larger claims can be made through civil actions in the County Court.

Always try to resolve complaints if at all possible. Time spent on defending a legal claim will probably outweigh the time you'd have spent on resolving the matter amicably. Also remember that the inevitable outcome of an unresolved complaint is at least one lost customer and the potential for bad publicity.

Dispute resolution

When there is a dispute between a consumer and a trader, there are a range of options for resolving the dispute without going to court. These options can often be quicker and cheaper, and lead to a more satisfactory solution, than taking legal action.

The law seeks to promote the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) by ensuring that suitable options are available in all consumer disputes. All traders are required to inform consumers whether they are willing to use ADR.