How to File a Complaint in Consumer Court

By Tom Lutzenberger
Even small claims suits require the decision of a judge to be official.

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Filing a formal complaint in consumer court is the same as doing so in small claims court. The U.S. process is designed to allow people to air small-value legal issues without the requirement of being represented by an attorney. You don’t need to fill out lengthy pleading forms with extensive case references, or use legal jargon. However, you do need to ascertain which court the complaint should be filed in, reference the local court rules, fill out the correct forms and pay any fees.

Go to your local courthouse and request a copy of the procedure rules for filing a small claims complaint in your local court. Use the computer to download them if they are available on the Internet.

Obtain a copy of the complaint form required by your local court. If your local court provides PDF files that you can fill out electronically, and you have a computer with Internet access and a printer, try to download these. They are easy to fill out and provide a much cleaner filing. They are also easy to correct and reprint, if you make a mistake. Otherwise, fill out a physical form using a typewriter, if you have one. As a last resort, fill out the form with a pen but be sure to write clearly. Judges don’t like having to decipher sloppy writing. Make sure there are no errors on the form. Attach any documents necessary to prove your case in court.

Take the completed forms and related documents to your local court. Locate the court clerk’s office in the building. File your complaint with the court clerk and pay the necessary filing fees. Wait for the court clerk to schedule the next step in the case process. Appear in court as required on your hearing date.

About the Author

Since 2009 Tom Lutzenberger has written for various websites, covering topics ranging from finance to automotive history. Lutzenberger works in public finance and policy and consults on a variety of analytical services. His education includes a Bachelor of Arts in English and political science from Saint Mary's College and a Master of Business Administration in finance and marketing from California State University, Sacramento.

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