Customer DisputesDisputes with customers are a common occurrence for small business and need to be handled quickly and professionally to maintain your goodwill and reduce the risk of financial loss.

It is important that your organisation is fully aware of its obligations under the consumer laws and has procedures in place to ensure compliance on a routine basis. If a complaint does arise it is better that the matter be resolved directly with the customer as quickly as possible. This is consistent with the approach recommended to consumers when they contact the various consumer affairs organisations.

To maximise your chances of a successful resolution, you need to:

  • Listen to what the customer has to say (put yourself in his/her position)
  • Request documentary evidence if required to verify the facts
  • Understand your legal obligations (seek advice from the relevant consumer organisation)
  • Negotiate face to face in a calm and professional manner
  • If you reach stalemate, refer back to the relevant consumer organisation

Disputes are inevitable, however, if they are handled successfully, you will generate positive goodwill from customers, their associates, and your own staff.

There are a wide range of organisations and services available to assist in handling consumer disputes. More detailed information is available in the Directory of Consumer Dispute Resolution Schemes, published by the Department of Industry, Science and Tourism.

For copies
Tel 02 6213 6124
Fax 02 6273 1992

These schemes are designed to provide support for both consumers and small businesses in understanding their legal requirements and by doing so allow successful face to face resolution of disputes.

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