File a Complaint
(Language interpretation services are available upon request)
“Our priority is to protect consumers,” said TDCI Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “Should there be businesses or individuals who take advantage of others through price gouging, we encourage consumers to report it to our Consumer Affairs Division so that we can follow-up accordingly.”
The price gouging complaints received by Consumer Affairs are all individually evaluated. Price increases are generally considered by evaluating the increases of costs to fuel, the pre-existing price agreements, and increases in costs imposed by suppliers. If it appears that price gouging may have occurred, the complaint could be referred to the Attorney General for review and investigation regarding the potential violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. The Attorney General could seek a temporary restraining order, temporary injunction, or permanent injunction, seek civil penalties up to
$1,000 per violation, and/or negotiate and accept an assurance of voluntary compliance.
The Division, generally, reviews price gouging complaints under two different statutes: The first, the Price Gouging Act of 2002, only applies during the time in which the Governor has declared an abnormal economic disruption and prohibits charging “any other person a price for the following goods or services [unless the order is limited only to specific types of goods] that is grossly in excess of the price generally charged for the same or similar goods or services in the usual course of business:
(A) Consumer food items;
(B) Repair or construction services;
(C) Emergency supplies;
(D) Medical supplies;
(E) Building materials;
(G) Transportation, freight, and storage
In addition, even if no abnormal economic disruption is declared, it is a violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act for any person who “[u]nreasonably rais[es] prices or unreasonably restrict[s] supplies of essential goods, commodities or services in direct response to a crime, act of terrorism, war, or natural disaster, regardless of whether such crime, act of terrorism, war, or natural disaster occurred in the state of Tennessee”. Given the breadth of the items covered by these and other provisions, consumers are encouraged to file a complaint regarding any suspected price gouging to ensure that the Division can evaluate the complaint for further appropriate action and help protect the citizens of Tennessee.
A letter to the manager of the business that sold the product or performed the service is usually effective. Keep copies of all correspondence.
- Act on your behalf or provide you with legal advice on your rights and obligations under the law.
- Make formal decisions on whether a person or business had breached the law as only the courts can do this.
- We cannot file a lawsuit whose only purpose is to recover money or property for you.
The consumer must live in Tennessee OR the business must be located in Tennessee.
We strongly suggest that you contact the business first before filing a complaint as this may be effective in resolving your dispute. Please see draft letter located here and include it or any other correspondence you have had with the business.
Follows these four steps to help prevent delays in processing your complaint:
- Answer all questions on the complaint form. Briefly describe your complaint and include all important facts. Either type or print clearly and legibly when using the printable complaint form.
- Provide copies of any documents that would support your complaint. DO NOT MAIL ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS; these will not be returned.
- Your complaint will be part of public record. Therefore, please take the time to black out information, such as Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, bank and credit card numbers, and any other sensitive information.
- Remember to date and sign the complaint form.
Once the complaint is made part of our files, the business will be a sent a copy of the complaint along with a letter asking the business to respond directly to you to resolve the dispute. In the letter we also ask the business to inform us of any resolution so that this information may be included in the file. You will receive a copy of this letter. It takes approximately 30 days for our staff to process a complete complaint.
The Division cannot force a business to respond to your complaint. You may consider contacting your local Better Business Bureau or an attorney.
In an effort to keep your complaint file current, please email your questions and additional documentation to the consumer protection specialist assigned to your complaint or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please list your name and file number in the subject field of the e-mail.
Due to our call volume, it may take you longer to receive a response by phone than by email.
The Division, by law, cannot force a business to satisfy your complaint. Consumers who wish to seek formal legal actions based on their claims should seek a private attorney or visit our web page on legal resources here.
The Division cooperates and works closely with other government agencies. If appropriate, the Division will forward your complaint to another agency for assistance. If your complaint is referred to another agency you will be advised of the referral. In any event, your complaint will be kept on file so the Division can monitor the complaint history. *If you feel you are the victim of a criminal act please contact your local law enforcement immediately. A complaint filed with the Division does not provide any statutorily mandated stay.
When there is a potential violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act or a pattern of complaints against a business, the Division collaborates with the Attorney General’s Office as the enforcement authority who ensures and upholds the Consumer Protection Act for the State. These communications with the Attorney General’s office are confidential. Consumers who wish to seek formal legal actions based on their claims should seek a private attorney.
If a lawsuit or settlement is filed, that information will be publicly available, and the Division generally attempts to notify consumers that legal action has been taken. Even after litigation, however, consumers may not receive restitution. For example, a company facing a lawsuit may go out of business and the owners may not be found, the entities may file bankruptcy, or they may not be held legally responsible by a court of law.