Best Ways to File a Complaint Against Your Cell Phone Provider

Let’s face it, not everyone likes their cell phone carrier. The telecommunications industry consistently ranks as one of the most hated industries. I think it’s because most large cell phone carriers spend their resources trying to acquire new customers rather than supporting the ones they already have on their networks - there is no sense of community. See how many millions of people switch phone carriers every month on our blog post How to Switch Cell Phone Carriers.

The large cell phone companies’ neglect can become pretty horrific. The big four will throw in hidden service fees, activation fees, cancelation fees, lock you out of your account, put you on hold for hours, hang up on you, never call you back, yell at you, lie to you, and force you to pay them thousands of dollars see our story about one of our customers having to pay AT&T $4060 in cash!). The poor customer service many people experience every day is occasionally more than simple mistakes; it is sometimes an abuse of a company’s power. In instances like those, it is important to know where to turn to file an official complaint against a company. Below we outline several resources for you to submit formal and informal complaints regarding your carrier.

Overview:

Formal Complaints

How to write a complaint

FCC

State Attorney General

Public Utility Commission

Local Municipality

Informal Complaints

Better Business Bureau

Consumer Affairs

Facebook Complaints

Formal Complaints

How to write a formal complaint

Formal complaints are not to be written like a Facebook post (although there is a place for that- see below). They should be written like a formal letter. Get straight to the problem in your complaint. Try to refrain from fluffy adjectives. However, you should provide as many details as possible. Includes facts, dates, times, and names of representatives with which you interacted. Explain the problem and how it was against the carrier’s policy, disrespectful, or against the law. You can find some good tips here.

FCC complaint filing

The FCC or Federal Communications Commission, is the first place you should file your complaint. You may not see immediate results, but if enough people complain it could raise flags and it will give you some leverage when speaking with your current carrier. You can file a complaint online here. Simply follow the prompts to file a complaint with your phone company. A link to the complaint form will be near the bottom of the page.

State Attorney General Office

After the FCC, you can file an official complaint with your state’s attorney general’s office. They will also have an online form that you can submit for complaints. For example, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office complaint form can be found here. Simply, search “[Your State] Attorney General Complaints” in your favorite search engine to find the proper site. There will be prompts on how to submit a complaint online or by mail. Make sure to keep copies of the complaints and the time you submitted them for your records (feel free to send copies to your phone carrier as well to try and get them to take action).

State Commissions and Boards

Depending on your state, there will be various other organizations with which you can submit a complaint. To find which one is appropriate for your state, search “[Your State] public utility commission complaint” and the top results will either be your state’s public utility commission, the public service commission, or the board of utilities. Whichever organization appears for your state, just navigate through their website to the complaint section.

While these organizations can be great places to file complaints since they are more local, your state most likely does not directly regulate your wireless telecommunications company. However, many of the organizations will accept the complaints.

Local Municipality

If you are very determined you can also search for your city’s Consumer Affairs department and file a complaint with them in person at your city hall or online if they have that ability.

Informal Complaints

Better Business Bureau

The BBB is a great secondary place to submit a complaint, especially if you are complaining about a specific store location. The BBB will be your advocate and has some ply with companies. While one complaint with the BBB may not affect much immediate change, if enough complaints come in then companies will certainly take notice since the BBB reaches out directly to your cellular carrier on your behalf.

Consumer Affairs

ConsumerAffairs.com is another website in which you can informally complain about a company. It’s unlikely that this will do much to help resolve your issue, but some companies do patrol review boards like this one. So, it’s possible that the company will reach out to you through the site and hopefully resolve the problem. Posting on the site can help other consumers make more informed decisions as well, meaning less people falling prey to the large cell phone carriers. There are other sites somewhat similar to this that are meant for consumer reviews (such as

Facebook Posts and Social Media

The final place you can post a complaint is on social media. Social media is useful for venting and last ditch efforts, but if you are having trouble reaching a person over the phone some companies do have faster response times on Facebook. So, social media could even be a quick starting place if you’re looking to resolve small issues.

You can also tweet your complaint, post on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Yelp, just make sure to tag the company with which you are upset so they will be notified of the post.

What to do after submitting a complaint

Make sure you keep physical and digital copies of all of your complaints. Feel free to provide these to your cell phone carrier as leverage to get your issue resolved. Always be persistent and good luck!

For more information on complaints please see this government link.

If you would like any help filing a complaint please reach out to Community Phone via web chat, email (help@communityphone.org, or call 617-963-0004).

John LaGue

8/8/2018