In my country if a customer wishes to complain about something from an establishment he first does so by submitting a formal complaint to the establishment, itself.

For example, let's say a customer has received poor service from an employee of Company A. If he so desires he can write a complaint on a sheet of paper, which does not require any sort of formal approval, seal or notarization, and present it to Company A, which then is obliged by law to receive it, enter it in their log of complaints (a formal log/book in which all complaints are stored with an internal identification number) and give a response within three business days. Note the Company is not required to fulfill the customer's desires, agree with him or take any action, other than acknowledge the complaint, itself.

I've happened upon this site which, as I understand it, says that a complaint similar to the one in the example above must be submitted to court to have any meaning and submitting one to the company has no value at all.

I am curious to the US equivalent of what I have described.

  • Out of curiosity, what is your country?
    – feetwet
    Commented May 16, 2016 at 21:47
  • @feetwet Bulgaria.
    – mathgenius
    Commented May 16, 2016 at 21:49

2 Answers 2


There appears to be a confusion of language in the OP between definition 1 and definition 4a.

com·plaint (kəm-plānt′)


  1. An expression of pain, dissatisfaction, or resentment.

  2. A cause or reason for complaining; a grievance: What is your complaint?

  3. a. A bodily disorder or disease; a malady or ailment.

    b. The symptom or distress about which a patient seeks medical assistance.

  4. Law

    a. A formal statement initiating a lawsuit by specifying the facts and legal grounds for the relief sought.

    b. A formal charge, made under oath, of the commission of a crime or other such offense.

complaint. (n.d.) American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. (2011). Retrieved May 16 2016 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/complaint

A customer may complain (per definition 1) to a business about poor service and the business may (or may not) deal with that complaint through formal or informal in-house procedures. If the customer is dissatisfied with the resolution then the customer may lodge a complaint (per definition 4a) with a court (or some other government body like a Consumer Ombudsman).

  • I see. So, indeed, the complaint from definition 1 does not bind in any way the company to respond, only a complaint from definition 4 has any real bearing? It just seems strange to me, since here a company MUST respond to any formally submitted complaints (definition 1).
    – mathgenius
    Commented May 17, 2016 at 17:45

The CFR you linked to describes the process for raising a formal complaint with the FCC. It does not say that any other complaint has "no value at all."

At least in the U.S., it is almost always advantageous to send a demand letter before taking any complaint to a court of law. In fact, some courts (maybe just small-claims courts) require complainants to make a written demand of the counterparty before they can bring the complaint in court.

  • The way I understood that wiki article, a demand letter is a request for compensation, directed to the company, is it the US equivalent of "complaining of a company's service or product"?
    – mathgenius
    Commented May 16, 2016 at 22:00
  • 1
    @mathgenius - it can be that. More broadly, whatever you would ask of a court you should first ask of the counterparty directly. It's a silly waste of time to appeal to a court for redress of a grievance when the counterparty is ready and willing to accede to your demand.
    – feetwet
    Commented May 17, 2016 at 0:36
  • @mathgenius you should be sure to keep in mind the difference between a complaint about a company's service, which doesn't nececssarily have any legal weight, and a court filing called a complaint, which is the impetus for a court action, being filed by a prosecutor or a plaintiff, accusing someone else (defendant or respondent) of violating the law.
    – phoog
    Commented May 17, 2016 at 1:11

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