If you note that a product you purchased does not conform to what was agreed or is otherwise defective, first contact the vendor; the vendor is always principally liable for any product defects. In the case of an error in providing a service, a dispute over invoicing, a delay in delivery or any other contractual disruption, your first action should be to file a complaint with the vendor of the product or service.
Complaints should be filed by e-mail or by letter, especially in cross-border cases, unless the matter is minor and can be easily resolved. In the interests of any further investigation of the matter, it is important to keep a copy of any written complaints you have sent.
There is no standard formula for a complaint. The main thing is to write it so that it clearly indicates the defect, anomaly or other problem. Also state that you consider the party receiving the complaint to be responsible for this.
You may include at least the following information:
- When you purchased the product or service in question. Append a copy of the receipt, agreement, order confirmation or other similar document.
- The reason you are contacting the vendor. Explain the nature of the defect in the product you purchased or how it differs from what was agreed. If you already have a statement of defect or an estimate of the repair costs, append those too.
- Your opinion as to how the problem should be solved or how the matter should be processed. Reiterate that you consider the vendor to be responsible for the problem.
- If you have incurred any other costs because of the defect or shortcoming in the product or services, such as travel costs, mailing costs or phone costs, you are generally entitled to compensation for these too. In as much detail as possible, itemise the damage caused and the costs you have incurred. Append copies of any receipts or other documents.
- Remember, however, that you will have no success in claiming compensation for your time and trouble if you have not incurred any actual direct costs.
- If your complaint includes a financial claim, include your bank details with IBAN and SWIFT codes.
- Request that the vendor respond within a reasonable period of time, e.g. two weeks.
If the product came with a warranty, you should also contact the party issuing the warranty. In many cases, a warranty repair in the buyer’s home country is the best option in the case of a defective product. Note that a warranty does not release the vendor from its liability to rectify defects. The vendor also has no right to evade its liability by referring you to the manufacturer or the importer.
However, in some cases the broker or manufacturer may also have liability for a particular product or service, and in such a case you may also send your complaint to them. It is often best to send the complaint to several parties at once if it is not certain who is ultimately responsible for the problem.
If you have paid for the disputed product or service by credit card, also send your claim to the credit card company. The credit card company, however, is not liable to compensate you for any more than the purchase price of the product.