The Consumers' Council provides direct individual case services when a consumer files a written complaint. The staff of the Consumers' Council directly negotiates with businesses and consumers to reach resolutions that are satisfactory to both parties. When appropriate, the Consumers' Council refers parties to face to face mediation programs, arbitration services, or Small Claims Court.
All mediation services are provided free of charge.
Who can file a complaint with the Consumers' Council?
The Consumers' Council serves all residents of Cambridge, Somerville and Waltham regardless of where a business is located. The Consumers' Council also accepts complaints from individuals who have conducted a transaction with a business located in Cambridge, Somerville or Waltham regardless of where the individual lives.
Attention is given to the elderly, people with disabilities, those with language barriers, and all others without regard to income.
What types of complaints does the Consumers' Council receive?
Some of our common complaints concern:
- Auto Repair, Sales and Leasing
- Cable and Satellite Services
- Credit Cards
- Debt Collection
- Banking and Mortgages
- Fitness/Health Clubs
- Home Improvement Contractors
- Landlord/Tenant Issues
- Travel Agencies/Airlines
- Retail Sales (Store, Internet and Mail Order)
- Dating Services
- Moving and Storage
How do I file a complaint with the Consumers' Council?
Consumers should contact the Consumers' Council for a complaint form when they feel that they have been a victim of improper business practices and after they have attempted to resolve the dispute on their own.
Please keep in mind the following before returning the complaint form to our office:
- Include your most recent mailing address and a phone number where you can be reached during the day.
- Ensure to state both the problem you are having with a business and the specific action you are seeking.
- When describing your complaint, attempt to establish a timeline that includes important dates and events. For example, include date of purchase, date of cancellation or date of repair.
- Be sure to attach copies of any contracts, work orders, repair orders, bills, receipts, advertisements or any other documentation that you reference in your complaint. PLEASE DO NOT SEND ORIGINALS!
- Please be sure to sign your complaint form!
If your complaint involves a financial matter, such as a credit card billing dispute or a complaint regarding your bank account, please make sure to complete and send a release form with your complaint form!
What happens after I file a complaint?
The Consumers' Council is staffed with mediators who will review your complaint to determine whether it is appropriate for mediation. If your complaint is not appropriate for mediation, you may be referred to another government agency or resource for assistance.
If the complaint is one with which we may be able to assist you, a mediator will contact you before they attempt to contact the business. At that time, we may request more information or further documentation to assist in the mediation process.
If our mediation efforts are not successful, you will be offered guidance on other ways you can resolve your dispute.
Can the staff of the Consumers' Council provide me with legal advice?
The Consumers' Council cannot provide legal advice to consumers. If you have questions concerning the specific application or interpretation of the law, we will suggest that you consult a private attorney. If you do not have an attorney we will provide you information to assist you in finding one.