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Author Topic: The etiquette of making a formal complaint about a business.  (Read 3457 times)

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The etiquette of making a formal complaint about a business.
« on: January 22, 2014, 01:34:20 PM »
Is there a more polite, more correct way of making a formal complaint about a business that appears to have defrauded you?

We paid an animal behaviorist the required fee for a consultation. The fee was meant to include:
1. 90 minute in-home consultation in which the behaviorist would observe the pets, ask questions about their history, etc - gathering information
2. Written plan about how to deal with the problem going forward
3. Recording of the consultation for us to refer to
4. 3 months of follow up advice via email and phone

The consultation went smoothly - the behaviorist was late, but she did text to let us know, so that was okay. She was great in person, very friendly and it sounded like she knew what she was talking about. She left, and we have not heard from her since. It's been a month. We have texted, left phone messages, and emailed multiple times, but she has not responded in any way.

Is there a proper way of handling this if we get to the point where we feel we need to make a formal complaint with the state? Technically, I believe this is fraud. She took our money and did not provide the services we paid for. (Or at least not ALL of the services.) Should we let her know that we're considering making a complaint before we do so? Is there etiquette about this kind of thing?
« Last Edit: January 22, 2014, 01:41:37 PM by MorgnsGrl »


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Re: The etiquette of making a formal complaint about a business.
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2014, 01:43:22 PM »
I'm hardly a maven, but I don't see much etiquette here, unless there's a rule that it's rude to take something like this to a higher level without giving the other party one more chance.  It's probably a good idea even if it isn't etiquette. 

I'd be very firm if you do this.  Avoid words like fraud, for several reasons.  You can get the same point across by telling her you've paid her upfront for services that haven't been provided in the time frame she promised.  If you don't hear back within, say, 2 days, you have no choice but to contact _____ (fill in blank).

You could also ask her to define the 3 months of follow up and when that supposedly starts.


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Re: The etiquette of making a formal complaint about a business.
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2014, 01:43:44 PM »
Certainly you should make a complaint. Some things to know, though-did you have a written contract? Did she work independently or for a company? How did you make your payment?

Any complaint you make should be in writing. Be sure to stick strictly to the facts and don't get bogged down with too much extraneous detail. You might consider sending her one final warning via certified mail that she will have to sign for, explaining that you expect a full refund. Because at this point she's proven herself to be unprofessional and I wouldn't trust her for any follow ups. If she has an employer then they should receive the letter instead of her. They can then deal with their personnel issue and do whatever is required to make this right.

I would also consider contesting the charges on your credit card, if that is how you made your payment. You were charged for a service that you haven't received. That is fraud and you shouldn't be held liable for that money.

A letter to her governing board is also in order. You can copy her on that letter or not, as you see fit, but it might inspire her to get off her hiney and get in touch with you.

Good luck...let us know how it goes.

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Re: The etiquette of making a formal complaint about a business.
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2014, 02:28:43 PM »
We paid by check, unfortunately. You can believe I'm kicking myself for that.

The individual in question runs the business and is the only employee.

We can send her email, but there is no business address. I found her via local contacts and a website.

(I do want to add that local people have used her before with success, so I don't believe she went into this intending to take our money and not give us what she promised. It's certainly possible that she or a family member is ill. We've been clear that if there's something amiss, we want to be understanding, but for that we would require some kind of contact or explanation, and she has not replied to any of our attempts.)

And yes, I was worried that somehow I am doing something rude by considering this. But we're at the point of not knowing what else to do.


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Re: The etiquette of making a formal complaint about a business.
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2014, 03:57:11 PM »
Given that you've taken a month to try to contact the individual directly I'd say there's nothing stopping you from contacting the Better Business Bureau or other governing body, leaving a Yelp or other online review, and/or passing on your experience via word of mouth. Just be unemotional, and stick to the facts.

IMO there's no etiquette issue here; you paid for a service you didn't receive and are attempting to reconcile the problem. Just be polite with whomever you interact.


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Re: The etiquette of making a formal complaint about a business.
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2014, 06:54:04 PM »
Etiquette and the law don't really get along, so thread locked.
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