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Are you unhappy with a public service you received or were you denied a service you think you were entitled to?

If you would like to make a complaint, here are some suggestions that may help:

If you are unhappy with the service you were given:

  • tell the public service provider you are unhappy with the service and explain why
  • tell them what happened and what you think should have happened instead

If you are unhappy with the public service provider’s response:

  • ask them how you can make a complaint about that response
  • ask for the name of the person you should complain to
  • be very clear in describing what you think has gone wrong
  • tell them what you want them to do to make things right
  • ask for help to make your complaint if you have a disability or if you have a difficulty with writing

What you should put in your complaint

  • Facts are more important than opinions, so stick to the facts
  • Tell them what happened, who was involved and when it happened
  • If you have already tried to sort it out, tell them what you have done so far
  • Explain why you are unhappy and what you would like done to fix the problem
  • Include any evidence you have, for example reference numbers, photos, copies of correspondence and anything else that helps explain what happened
  • Give them your contact details and a mobile phone number, if possible

What you should not put in your complaint

  • Never make offensive remarks about the people you have been dealing with
  • Don’t include any personal views unless you have evidence to support them

What information should be in your complaint

  • If it is a letter you should begin with your own name, address and date. It should be at the top of the page and could be to the top right, top left or in the middle, depending on what style you prefer.
  • The name of the person you are writing to
  • Their job title
  • The name and address of the public service provider [where the person works]

Example of a letter of complaint

Dear [name of the person you are writing to],

I would like to complain about…

In this part of your letter,

  • explain clearly what happened, when it happened and what you have done to try to sort things out
  • explain why you are unhappy with the service and what you would like done to fix the problem
  • provide enough background information to explain the situation
  • include information and details such as reference numbers, photographs and copies of letters or emails you have sent
  • ask them to contact you by a reasonable, specific date – tell them if you would prefer to be contacted by phone, email or letter – and make sure you include your contact details
  • if the person you are writing to is not someone who can sort out the problem, ask them to explain why they can’t help and whether there is someone else you can complain to

Yours sincerely,

Put your name and phone or email contact details here

What you should do when complaining does not work

If writing to complain does not work, 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 publicly funded third-level education bodies. The Ombudsman cannot handle complaints about organisations such as An Garda Síochána, the ESB and financial services or pensions providers.

If you are not sure whether we can help, please contact us. You can also visit our website for information on service providers within and outside our remit.

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