As a consumer, you have the right to get what you pay for. Few things are more frustrating then paying hard-earned money for a service or product that does not live up to the promises or expectations. The Bureau of Consumer Protection (BCP) may be able to help you.
What is the Consumer Protection Bureau?
The Bureau of Consumer Protection is a division of the Department of Legal Affairs tasked with monitoring business practices in American Samoa and to safeguard your rights as a consumer and by making sure that businesses do not take advantage of or endanger the public safety or health of the people of American Samoa.
Complaints filed against a business may give the BCP reason to conduct an investigation into a company's business practices. Multiple complaints against a business may give rise to legal action by the BCP as an enforcement action and not necessarily on behalf of individual complaints. The Director of the BCP may, at his discretion, initiate an investigation or file a lawsuit against a business with a history of complaints lodged against it.
The BCP does not take action on every complaint that it receives.
Can the Director of the Consumer Protection Bureau represent me?
Under normal circumstances, the Director of CPB cannot represent an individual and you may be referred to a private attorney for legal representation. There are very limited and statutorily defined circumstances where the Director may, at his discretion, be able to represent you assuming circumstances make it impossible for a private attorney to take the referral.
Click here to see the directory of local attorneys.
If the Attorney General sues a company...
Assuming the CPB sues a company based on a consumer complaint and subsequent investigation, we may not be able to recover any money for you. Every effort to recover actual damages will be made, but there are some cases where it is simply not possible.
Perhaps the company has gone out of business, or we cannot find the owners. Or perhaps the company's practices have been so widespread and has affected so many people that is impossible to prove each person's damages. Finally, a company may have used or hidden its money and other assets, leaving nothing with which to repay consumers.
At that point, we may file a lawsuit to stop the illegal business practice knowing full well that we will not be able to recover money for the consumer. We will, however, continue to keep a particular complaint on file so that we can monitor illegal practices in American Samoa.
What do I do if I have a consumer complaint?
Step 1: Start with the Business
First, try to work directly with the business. Take the matter to the supervisor, manager, or even the owner of the business if possible.
With a legitimate business, you, as the consumer, have leverage and good businesses value their customer’s good will. So always start by communicating with the business.
Be calm and polite. Assume that the business will want to help and clearly communicate what your problem may be. Be clear about what the problem may be. Is the product defective? Is it not what you were led to expect? Was the product incomplete or a service not fully provided?
Send a well written letter stating the problem. Attach copies (not originals) of receipts and other documentation to support your case. You can see a sample of an effective complaint letter by clicking on the link below.
Step 2: Keep track of communications with the business
Keep track of your interactions with the business. Write down simple facts such as the dates you purchased the product or service, the date you first communicated with them regarding the problem and their response and any attempts you made to resolve the issue.
Step 3: Lodge a complaint with us
If the business will not resolve the problem directly, you can file a written complaint with our office. Start by downloading and printing out the form to the right. Once filed out, deliver the completed Consumer Complaint form to our office. You can also use the template below to write a letter to us detailing your complaint.