Frequently Asked Questions
May I make a complaint against a business?
Letter from Director regarding complaints
Generally, a person may file a complaint with Consumer Affairs against a particular business. To file a complaint, a person must fill out a complaint form* and include with that form copies of all documentation relating to the complaint. The complaint form complete with documentation must be sent to the Consumer Affairs Office at:
County of Delaware
Do Not send the complaint (or a copy of the complaint) directly to the business. Our office will arrange for the business to be provided a copy of the complaint.
Also, it is Strongly Recommended that before you fill out the complaint form and send it to Consumer Affairs, you contact us at (610) 891-4865 to register your complaint. There are some types of cases Consumer Affairs is not responsible for (e.g. cases already in court), and others might need to be referenced to other agencies. By calling Consumer Affairs, our staff can verify that you indeed have a complaint that can be mediated through our office or, if you do not have such a complaint, a staff member may be able to reference you to another agency that can help you. If you do not call before registering your complaint, and if our office cannot provide you with assistance, you may lose valuable time completing inappropriate forms, which could delay final resolution of your complaint.
How long does a complaint take to be resolved?
Unfortunately, we cannot provide a time frame in which your complaint will be settled. Generally, after the initial complaint has been filed, a business has ten days (including weekends but excluding holidays) to respond. After the initial response, our office attempts to mediate an amicable solution. However, how quickly a complaint gets resolved depends upon many factors including how complete documentation of the complaint is, the cooperation of the business, and the amount of complaints filed in our office. Please be assured we will handle your complaint as quickly and efficiently as possible.
What happens if a business refuses to cooperate or what happens if a business does not offer an agreeable settlement?
If a business refuses to cooperate or if an amicable solution is not reached, generally the person who files the complaint must pursue the matter in court (usually Small Claims Court). One of the purposes of Consumer Affairs is to reduce the burden on the Courts through non-binding mediation, and therefore, Consumer Affairs treats lawsuits as a last resort for the consumer. If a case goes to court, Consumer Affairs provides both the consumer and the business with copies of records relating to our attempts at mediation, upon request.
In addition to the consumer pursuing a claim in court, if our office feels that consumer fraud may be involved, we will forward the file to the Delaware County District Attorney's Office and/or to the Attorney General of Pennsylvania. The District Attorney and/or Attorney General’s office will review the claim to see if it merits further investigation and prosecution.
I am not a resident of Delaware County. May I make a complaint against a business with your office?
In order to file a complaint with the Delaware County Office of Consumer Affairs, one of the two following conditions MUST be met:
I represent a business, and I recently had a consumer who failed to uphold his part of the contract (or pay for services rendered, etc). May a business file a complaint against a consumer?
No. Consumer Affairs only processes consumer complaints against businesses. Businesses need to pursue their claims either in court or, if criminal activity is involved (e.g. theft of services), they should contact the appropriate local, state, or federal law enforcement agency.
Does Consumer Affairs provide information for consumers (e.g. lemon law, credit card fraud, etc)?
Yes, our office has a great deal of literature for consumers. Most of the important brochures can be found at our Consumer Education Page. The documents on this page are in PDF format and require Adobe Acrobat or Acrobat Reader to view. Other brochures are available at our office and can be mailed upon request. If you have difficulties in downloading a brochure or need information on a topic which is not on the Consumer Education Page, please contact our office.