Consumers Association of Penang

Giving voice to the little people...since 1970

What are you entitled to in a complaint?

Before you complain, decide first what you are entitled to. Ask yourself whether you just want your money back, a replacement, a repair or even compensation?
Be reasonable in considering an offer. If the other party makes a reasonable offer, it might be worth accepting it even if it is not exactly what you wanted. If you think there are weak points in your case or if the sum involved is relatively small, it might take a lot of time, effort and expense to get a better offer.

For a defective product, the seller may agree to refund your money, or offer you a replacement, allowing you to buy from the same company goods of the same value as the ones you have returned. He might offer to repair the faulty goods free of charge.


If the article is satisfactory for a time and then develops a fault, it is probably too late to get your money back.

If the goods you ordered are found to be faulty on delivery, you can’t cancel your order immediately but you should notify the shop and allow them a reasonable time to deliver a replacement.

If the goods are under a manufacturer’s guarantee it will be reasonably expected of you to give the manufacturer an opportunity to put the defect right before cancelling your purchase with the shop.


A replacement is often perfectly acceptable unless your need for the item has passed or you have lost faith in the goods, for example if the shop has twice replaced the item and each time it has proved faulty). Should this be the case, you are entitled to ask for your money back or for compensation.


A repair (free of charge) for minor faults which may emerge some time after purchase is acceptable. But if the shop offers to repair a new television that has developed a serious fault during the first week of use you should insist on a new set, not a repaired one. If the implied terms of the Consumer Protection Act 1999 have been broken, you don’t have to accept a repair but can insist on a refund or compensation. Similarly, if you accept an offer to repair, the repairs must be carried out within a reasonable period of time. If the repairs take unreasonably long or are unsuccessful, you can insist on a refund.


Under the Consumer Protection Act, you are entitled to be compensated for any damage caused by defective goods. For example, if your new washing machine breaks down, damaging the clothes in it in the process, you can claim compensation not only for the faulty machine but also for the damaged clothes. However, you need to show evidence (like the actual damaged clothes for example) that the product was the direct cause of the damage.

Getting redresses with CAP’s help

Consumers can obtain redresses successfully without CAP’s involvement. Even when the companies are ignoring the letters there are venues that consumers should seek before approaching CAP for help.

Before complaining to CAP

1. You are expected to have taken up the matter with the relevant party/parties and escalated to higher levels if the complaint was not resolved.
2. You should have sent your letters by A.R. Registered mail and kept the receipt and A.R. cards as evidence.
3. You should have kept copies of all letters sent and any acknowledgement and replies received. Keep them in a file so they don’t get lost/damaged.
4. For government departments,statutory bodies and former government agencies now privatised, if that department or agency does not respond, complain to the Public Complaints Bureau (address below).* And if the Bureau does not act speedily, complain to your Ketua Setiausaha Negara.

Lodging your complaint with CAP

1. If you are writing in, state the facts honestly and briefly. Provide copies of relevant documents.
2. Provide your full address (including postcode), e-mail address and telephone contact number.
3. Make sure your letters are signed. We do not act on unsigned letters.
4. If you are coming personally, bring all relevant documents along.

After your complaint has been lodged

1. You are expected to show interest in your complaint and to give CAP your fullest co-operation.
2. If we do not hear from you or from the party complained against for up to 3 months after we have written to that party, we shall proceed to close your file.

The reason is simple. After we have acted on your complaint, the other party could have contacted you and settled the matter without informing us. This happens in many cases. And sadly, the complainant also does not inform us that his complaint has been successfully settled. As a result, we waste time, energy and money keeping the file open and carrying on with correspondence.

Therefore, if we do not hear from you for up to 3 months after we have acted on your complaint, and informed you of our action, we will treat the complaint as settled or abandoned and close your file.

*Ketua Pengarah, Ibu Pejabat Biro Pengaduan Awam,
Jabatan Perdana Menteri,
Aras 6, Blok B 1, Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan,