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How to complain to a public service provider

Are you unhappy with a public service you have received or not had a service you think you were entitled to?

If you would like to make a complaint here are some suggestions that may be helpful to you;

If you are unhappy with the service you were given ;

  • Tell the public service provider that you are unhappy with the service provided and why. Tell them what happened, and what you think should have happened.
  • If, you are unhappy with the response ask them how you can make a complaint.
  • Ask for the name of the person you should make your complaint to.
  • When you are making a complaint make it very clear what it is about the service that you think is wrong.
  • Tell them what it is that you want them to do to make things right.
  • If, you have a disability or have difficulty with writing, for example, ask for help in making your complaint.

What you should put in your letter / email

  1.  Facts are always more important than opinions so, stick to the facts.
  2. Tell them what happened, who was involved, and when it happened.
  3. If, you have already tried to sort it out, tell them what you have done.
  4. Explain why you are unhappy and what you would like to be done to sort out the problem.
  5. Include any evidence you have including reference numbers, photos, copies of correspondence and anything else that explains what happened.
  6. Give them your contact details and if possible, a mobile phone number.

What you should not put in your complaint

  •  You should never make offensive remarks about the people you have been dealing with.
  • If you have no evidence to support any views you have, it is better if you don’t include them

A sample complaint letter;

To : Name of the person to whom your are writing

Their Job Title

Name and address of the public service organisation


I would like to complain about :

Explain very clearly :

  •  Why you are unhappy with the service ?
  •  What you would like done to sort out the problem ;
  •  Provide enough background information which explains what happened, when it happened, and what you have done to try and sort things out.
  •  Include any details which will help the public service provider to know what has happened e.g. reference numbers, photos, copies of letters.

Ask them to contact you by a reasonable but specific date. You should tell them how you prefer to be contacted e.g. by phone, email or letter.  Make sure you give them your contact details. If they are not in a position to sort out the problem ask for an explanation as to why they cannot assist you and whether you have another right of appeal. 

If this does not work then you should contact us at the Office of the Ombudsman.  The Ombudsman can examine complaints about most public service providers including Government Departments, local authorities, the HSE and public hospitals, and publically funded third-level education bodies.  (The Ombudsman cannot deal with complaints about organisations such as An Garda Síochána, ESB, financial services or pensions). Please contact us if you are unsure whether the service provider you complained about is within our jurisdiction.

The Office of the Ombudsman is open between 9.15 and 5.30 Monday to Thursday and 9.15 to 5.15 on Friday.

We are in 18 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2

Our contact details are | Lo-call: 1890 223030 | Tel: 01 639 5600 | Fax: 01 639 5674. You can also make an online complaint on this website.