This article looks at internal complaints procedures and considers the role of independent elements in procedures that are designed to be simple, informal and low cost. Taking the example of local authority community care services as a case study, the article discusses research which looked at the views of complainants, potential complainants and those who run the procedure. Most people do not make formal complaints at all and very few people seek an independent review of their complaint. When they do seek such a review, they expect it to be transparently independent of the body complained about. The article concludes that the current system of local authority complaints review panels or committees does not provide the independent element that complainants seek.