What can the Division of Consumer Services do for you?
The division can advise you of the documentation you should expect to receive throughout the course of your transaction.
The division can contact the company and request a written response to your complaint.
What limitations are there?
The division cannot give you legal advice, nor can we recommend an attorney to you.
The division cannot pursue redress on your behalf. You should always contact a private attorney who can advise you of your rights.
What if the division doesn't have authority?
In situations where the division determines that it does not hold authority to investigate, we will either refer your complaint to the appropriate authority, or reject your complaint with an explanation. Note: rejections are infrequent and in no way limit your ability to pursue the issue as a private legal matter. If you do not understand our rejection or referral, please call the number below for a more detailed explanation. In some cases, the division may initially believe that it holds jurisdiction over the issues raised, but upon further investigation determines that it does not. You will be informed of any such determination and again may call for clarification.
How does the process work?
You are the Complainant and will be referred to as such throughout the investigation and resolution. Upon receipt of your complaint the information is logged into our complaint database and a notification of receipt is sent to you. If the division needs additional information we will contact you and make a request. Your provision of accurate initial information will make the process more efficient.
The division next notifies the entity you have complained against (Respondent) that you have filed a complaint, and instructs the Respondent to provide information. Receipt of this information may take several weeks. In some cases (generally with out-of-state or unlicensed Respondents) the division may never receive a response. In this case, the division’s ability to pursue the complaint may be somewhat limited.
Once the Respondent has provided information to the division, an examiner is assigned to the complaint. The examiner will review the facts and evidence, analyze the issues in relation to the appropriate laws and regulations, cite violations (if any), and recommend a resolution to the complaint in writing. This process can take several weeks depending on our caseload and the complexity of issues in your complaint.
Must the Respondent accept the division’s proposed resolution?
No. Respondents are requested to resolve the matter as proposed. In most cases, Respondents readily accept our suggested resolutions. If the Respondent does not accept the recommendation, the division may pursue enforcement action against the Respondent. In that case, the Respondent is afforded an opportunity to contest the division’s findings and desired penalty, which may include revocation or suspension of license, imposition of fine, or restitution.
Must you comply with the resolution?
No. The division generally refrains from giving direction to the Complainant. You are not under the division’s jurisdiction, and the division cannot provide you with legal advice. However, the division may make recommendations to the Complainant in certain situations.
Are your rights limited by the resolution?
No. You have the right to pursue the matter yourself or with private counsel regardless of how the division handles the matter. In cases where the Respondent has chosen not to accept the division’s proposal, your attorney may find the division’s resolution useful in pursuing a private action. Note: the division cannot act privately on your behalf.
Is your complaint confidential?
Generally, no. The documents and information you and the Respondent provide are considered public records under Revised Code of Washington 42.56. Under the Public Records Act, certain information may be protected and may be “redacted” (blocked out). Such documents and information can be requested by anyone. The division’s policy is to delete certain personal information from documents before responding to an outside request. However, the division’s policy is not an absolute protection to you. If the division refers your complaint to another agency, our policies do not govern the dissemination of requested items by that agency. However, the agency may be subject to the requirements of the Public Records Act. Likewise, the Respondent is not required to comply with the division’s policy on records production.