How to File Consumer Complaints

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Modified on 2009/10/15 02:58 by Wayne Schlaht

Product Recalls (CPSC)

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)

The CPSC investigates defective products, injuries related to defective products, and deaths related to defective products.  Please remember that CPSC has no jurisdiction over cars, trucks, motorcycles, car seats, foods, medicines, cosmetics, medical devices, or business practices.

Here is the link to CPSC’s Recalls page.  Consumers can find recalled products of all kinds by month/year, product category, company, and type of hazard (lead toxicity, for instance).  Subscribe to CPSC Recalls on this page.

This is the consumer reporting link for defective products. Consumers should report any unsafe product, injury, or death pursuant to a hazardous product.

If you are a fire, police or insurance investigator, this is the link for reporting unsafe products, injuries, and deaths.

If you are a doctor or other health care professional, this is the link for reporting a patient injury or death.

If you are a manufacturer, importer, distributor, or retailer, then this is the link for reporting an unsafe product.

If you are a medical examiner or coroner, and wish to report a death related to an unsafe product, then use the form mentioned above.

Food and Drug Safety (FDA and USDA)

The FDA plays a vital role in public health by regulating the quality of the following products: certain foods (excluding meat, poultry & eggs), medicines and medical devices, blood products, vaccines, animal feed, veterinary drugs, and products that emit radiation. 

In case of emergency with any FDA-regulated areas, contact the FDA’s emergency number staffed 24-hours a day.  The 24-hour hotline for immediate emergency attention is 301-443-1240. 

Emergencies and non-emergencies about food, drugs, and medical devices should otherwise be reported to the district office consumer complaint coordinator in your area.  If you have any problem with restaurant food, then contact the state department of public health, not the FDA.

If you are a consumer or healthcare professional and wish to report non-emergency, significant information about medications, medical products, blood products, biologics, special nutritional products or cosmetics, then use the MedWatch online adverse events reporting form 3500.  For instructions on how to fill out the MedWatch 3500 form, see this ‘instructions’ link. The MedWatch form should be used any time there is an instance of a quality control problem, or a patient dies or has a serious reaction to a medicine.

If you wish to report a vaccine adverse event or any problem with vaccines, then use this link to file your complaint.  Make sure to adhere to MedWatch reporting instructions when you file your report.

If you have an adverse reaction to a cosmetic and wish to report it, then use this web address to file a report by email at 

This is the MedWatch link for manufacturer mandatory reporting for Drug/Biologic/Human Cell, Tissues and Cellular and Tissue-Based Product Distributors, and Packers.  For manufacturer medical device reporting of adverse events, click on this link.

Any questions that you may have about the FDA can be directed to the consumer complaint coordinator. This is the link for the FDA’s Recalls and Safety Alerts page.

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), a division of the Department of Agriculture, oversees the security of the nation’s meat, poultry, and eggs.  If you have a problem with any one of these areas and need to report an incident of spoiled meat, eggs or poultry, use this FSIS link. 

For foodborne illness with meats, poultry or eggs, the FSIS incident report number is 1-888-674-6854. In the alternative, you can use this email - mphotline.fsis@usda.gov to report foodborne illness regarding these products.  If your food product complaint does not concern meat, poultry or eggs, and is not a restaurant issue, then it probably falls under the FDA’s jurisdiction. Please contact the consumer complaint coordinator in your area to discuss the matter further.

Please be sure to have the information about where you purchased the product handy when you contact the FSIS, so that you may expedite processing of the incident report.  For more information on specific types of food recalls, see the FSIS home page. Here is the FSIS link for open case summaries at FSIS, and here are closed cases and case archives.

Motor Vehicle Problems, Tires, Child Car Seats – (NHTSA)

Motor Vehicle Safety – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides information about vehicle and equipment recalls from 1966 to present.  NHTSA provides monthly vehicle recall reports for the public’s convenience, available at this link.

If you have a vehicle safety problem and need to report the problem, then use this link.  You may also wish to search for a car recall by year, make of the car, or model.

Motor Vehicle Equipment Recalls link – search here for recalled motor vehicle equipment

Tire Recalls – search here for recalled tires on the NHTSA website.

NHTSA also regulates child safety restraint seats (child car seats).  See the previous link for information on child booster seat recall campaigns.

Here is the link for information on school bus recalls.

Boat Recalls – U.S. Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard investigates any complaints about recreational boats, and equipment.  The Coast Guard also maintains a recalls database on recreational boats, as well as keeps a list of current advisories on its website for mariners.

You may use this form to report a safety defect or other problem with a boat.

Pesticide Recalls – Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA performs environmental research and is charged with reducing the nation’s risk to pesticides.  The EPA oversees the nation’s pesticide recalls, and requires manufacturers to report any problems with pesticides.  You can even search the EPA’s web site to find out more information on various pesticides and problems associated with them.

If you have a problem with a pesticide, contact the EPA with details of the incident.

Deceptive Business Practices - Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection investigates complaints about corrupt company practices.  If need to report a particular company’s business practices, use this form to have the FTC look into the matter.  The FTC does not investigate individual consumer complaints. 

Specific Consumer Problem - Better Business Bureau

If you have a specific consumer problem in your state concerning a banking, insurance, securities, or utilities matter, then click on one of the following links to reach the appropriate state regulators.  Choose this link to access the Better Business Bureau in your city.    
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