File a Complaint
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The Division of Consumer Affairs offers an informal complaint mediation program. The Division’s complaint mediation process affords consumers and businesses a good faith means to remedy disputes. Disputes outlined in consumer complaints vary from consumer issues related to financial transactions to consumer purchases of products, goods, and services. Consumers also may use the Division’s complaint process to submit complaints relating to disputes under the Genetic Information Privacy Act, Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 47-18-4901 to -4906. The intention of the complaint mediation process is to open the lines of communication between consumers and businesses; foster settlements acceptable to both parties; and to ultimately resolve the dispute before further action needs to be taken.
The Division’s informal complaint mediation process involves the exchange of written responses between the two parties involved in the dispute. Once a complaint is processed, it is assigned to a consumer specialist. The consumer specialist will send the business your complaint in its entirety along with a letter asking the business to provide a response to our office within 21 days. The consumer specialist will also send you a letter indicating that your complaint has been sent to the business.
If the business replies, a copy of their response will be sent to you. You will have an opportunity to review the response and provide a rebuttal if applicable. If we do not receive a response from the business, your consumer specialist will send a second notification to the business and the business will be given 14 additional days to respond.
If the Division does not receive a response from the business after the second letter is sent, we can attempt to seek a response using different contact information. The Division asks consumers to provide all contact information that they have for the business.
Yes, all consumer complaints submitted to the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs are subject to the Public Records Act, T.C.A. Title 10, Chapter 7.
To file a consumer complaint and have the Division mediate the dispute, one of the following must be true:
- The consumer lives in Tennessee
- The business is located in Tennessee
- The business transaction occurred in Tennessee
If you have a consumer complaint, contact the business first. Try talking to a manager. If you are still not satisfied, try contacting the owner of the business or the corporate headquarters of the business. Please see draft letter located here for an example of what to include in your communication to the business.
If you are still not satisfied after contacting the business, file a consumer complaint with the Division of Consumer Affairs.
The easiest and most efficient way to file a complaint is by using our online complaint form.
To file a complaint online:
- Access the online complaint form
- Fill in the requested information and submit the complaint
- Please allow several days for processing. You will be notified when your complaint is assigned to a consumer specialist and sent to the business.
Complaints can also be filed by mail, fax, or email. Processing times may be longer for these submission methods.
To file a complaint by mail, fax, or email:
- Access our printable complaint form.
- Answer all questions on the complaint form. Briefly describe your complaint and include all important facts. Print or type clearly and legibly.
- Provide copies of any documents that would support your complaint. Please only send the portion of these documents that are necessary to your complaint. DO NOT MAIL ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS; these will not be returned. Redact information such as Social Security numbers, driver license numbers, bank and credit card numbers, and any other sensitive information that may be contained in the documents you submit. Please do not staple your materials.
- Ensure the complaint form is signed and dated.
- Return the form by mail, fax, or email to the contact listed at the top of the form.
After your complaint is received and processed, the Division will notify you through the mail or by email (if you provided an email address) within 14 days that your complaint has been assigned to a consumer specialist and sent to the business.
If the business replies, a copy of their response will be sent to you. Once a response is received, the consumer can accept the response or submit a rebuttal that will be sent back to the business for further mediation. If the business does not respond, a second letter will be sent giving the business 14 additional days to respond.
- We cannot act on your behalf or provide you with legal advice on your rights and obligations under the law.
- We cannot make formal decisions on whether a person or business has breached the law as only the courts can do this.
- We cannot file a lawsuit whose only purpose is to recover money or property for you.
There are variations based on the specific complaint, but the average mediation time from the opening to the closing of a complaint is 90 days.
The Division cannot force a business to rectify your complaint. Depending on the nature of the complaint and the payment method used, you may find assistance from your credit card company in disputing charges. Small claims court may also be an option to consider. Consumers who wish to seek formal legal actions based on their claims should seek a private attorney or visit our web page on Tennessee legal resources.
Yes, but please allow time for your complaint to be processed first. Processing may take up to 14 days depending on current caseload. If you are worried that your complaint was not received, you may email email@example.com or call 615-741-4737 and our staff will be glad to check for you.
Once processed, you will receive a notice from a consumer specialist letting you know that your complaint is being sent to the business. The direct contact for your assigned consumer specialist will be listed in that notice.
The business will be given 21 days to respond to our office. Once received, the consumer specialist will forward that response to you for review and a rebuttal if applicable. While you are welcome to contact your consumer specialist with questions or concerns (remember to list your name and file number in the subject field of the e-mail), please refrain from asking for an update on your complaint while the 21-day response window is still open. Keep in mind that due to the Division’s call volume, email may be the most efficient way to communicate with your consumer specialist.
The Division cooperates and works closely with other government agencies. If there is a determination that a complaint is out of our jurisdiction or could be referred to another agency for assistance, the Division forwards those complaints to the appropriate agencies, especially when there is regulatory oversight. If your complaint is referred to another agency you will be advised of the referral. In any event, your complaint will be kept on file so the Division can monitor the complaint history.
*If you feel you are the victim of a criminal act please contact your local law enforcement immediately. A complaint filed with the Division does not provide any statutorily mandated stay.
When there is a potential violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act or other consumer protection law, or a pattern of complaints against a business or individual, the Division collaborates with the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office, which enforces the Consumer Protection Act and other state and federal consumer protection laws on behalf of the State. Consumers who want to pursue formal legal actions based on their own claims should seek a private attorney as the Attorney General’s Office is not able to represent individual consumers.
If a lawsuit or settlement is filed by the State, that information will be publicly available, and the Division generally attempts to notify consumers that a legal action has been taken. The goal is to obtain money to repay consumers what they have lost. Even after litigation, however, consumers sometimes may not receive restitution. For example, a company facing a lawsuit may go out of business and the owners may not be found, the entities may file bankruptcy, or may not be held legally responsible by a court of law.
Consumers can email firstname.lastname@example.org and our staff will assist you in determining if a business has had a complaint(s) filed against them with our office. The Better Business Bureau is another resource to check, as they may have complaints filed with their organization as well.
If you purchased a new vehicle, or a vehicle that is still under the manufacturer’s warranty, and that vehicle has a defect or condition that makes it unreliable or is unsafe for normal operation, and the manufacturer or dealer cannot repair the vehicle after three attempts or the vehicle is out of service for repairs for a total of 30 or more days, you may be entitled to return the vehicle and receive a refund of the full purchase price. Prior to receiving a refund under the Lemon Law, you must notify the manufacturer of the problem in writing by certified mail. Lawsuits must be brought within six months of: one year from the date of original delivery of your car or from the expiration of your expressed warranty, whichever is later.
Consumers may file a complaint regarding a vehicle purchase with the Division of Consumer Affairs to have the issue mediated. Consumers may also consider the Better Business Bureau’s Auto Line program which provides free arbitration services to vehicle owners and certain manufacturers.
The Division of Consumer Affairs and the Attorney General’s Office cannot give legal advice or represent private individuals. If you feel that you need legal assistance, consider contacting a private attorney, your local Legal Aid office, or these other organizations that may offer legal guidance. You should act quickly because law limits the time you have to file a lawsuit.
Pricing of consumer goods and services is generally best left to the marketplace under ordinary conditions, but when an abnormal economic disruption of goods and services results in abnormal disruptions of the market, the public interest requires that excessive and unjustified increases in the prices of consumer goods and services should be discouraged.
The price gouging complaints received by the Division of Consumer Affairs are all individually evaluated. Price increases are generally considered by evaluating the increases of costs to fuel, the pre-existing price agreements, and increases in costs imposed by suppliers. If it appears that price gouging may have occurred, the complaint may be reviewed and/or investigated by the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division for potential violations of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. The Attorney General could seek a temporary restraining order, temporary injunction, or permanent injunction, seek civil penalties up to $1,000 per violation, and/or negotiate and accept an assurance of voluntary compliance
The Consumer Protection Division reviews price gouging complaints under two different statutes: The first, the Price Gouging Act of 2002, only applies during periods in which the Governor has declared an abnormal economic disruption and prohibits charging “any other person a price for the following goods or services [unless the order is limited only to specific types of goods] that is grossly in excess of the price generally charged for the same or similar goods or services in the usual course of business:
(A) Consumer food items;
(B) Repair or construction services;
(C) Emergency supplies;
(D) Medical supplies;
(E) Building materials;
(G) Transportation, freight, and storage services; or
Second, even if no abnormal economic disruption is declared, it is a violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act for any person to “[u]nreasonably rais[e] prices or unreasonably restrict supplies of essential goods, commodities or services in direct response to a crime, act of terrorism, war, or natural disaster, regardless of whether such crime, act of terrorism, war, or natural disaster occurred in the state of Tennessee.” Given the breadth of the items covered by these and other provisions, consumers are encouraged to file a complaint regarding any suspected price gouging. Doing so helps to ensure that the Division can evaluate the complaint for further appropriate action and help protect the citizens of Tennessee.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 47-18-305(a)(4): The contract of any health club/gym shall contain a buyer’s right to cancel near the signature line of the buyer. The buyer has until midnight of the third day after signing the contract (excluding weekends and holidays) to send written notice to the health club/gym. If the membership is financed, then the buyer has 7 days. Notice must be sent by registered mail to the address that is listed on the contract. The health club/gym does not need to actually receive the notice within 3 or 7 days; however, it must be SENT by registered mail within those respective days.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 47-18-701 et seq: The Tennessee Home Solicitation Sales Act of 1974 pertains to certain cancellation rights regarding door-to-door sales (when sales occur in a consumer’s home, from the back of a truck, or anywhere but the seller’s established place of business). If the sale is more than $25, a consumer can cancel within three days and still get a full refund. The salesperson is required to tell you about your three-day right to cancel and give you a form to use. You can cancel for any reason, but you have to do it in writing. Sign and mail the form the salesperson gave you at the sale. Make sure it is post-marked before midnight on the third business day after the sale.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-32-114: In Tennessee, a timeshare purchaser has the right to cancel the sale for 10 days from the date of signing the contract if the purchaser made an onsite inspection of the property, and 15 days if there was no inspection. The cancellation notice must be in writing.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 47-18-502: Consumers have the right to cancel membership to Buyers’ Clubs within three days of attaining membership. Notice of cancellation must be sent in writing. Consumers are entitled to a refund of the entire consideration paid for the contract.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 47-18-1006: Consumers have the right to cancel contracts with any credit services business within 5 days after entering the contract.
Tenn. Code Ann. §45-12-113(e): This is the state law that puts into application the federal Truth in Lending Act which states that consumers have a three-day rescission period for mortgage refinancing.