Consumer Complaints - Getting Results
List of Company Contact Information
How many times every day do you have a reason to complain? Some days nothing seems to go right. It's even worse when you have paid for something that breaks, or services that aren't delivered right.
There is no company, person or organization that does not experience a problem at some point. So what do you do? You could go simply ignore the issue, or chose do nothing about it. There seems to be a stigma attached to the word "complain". We often don't bother and just let things slide.
But good businesses, who value their customers, want to know when there is a problem. They need to know so they can make things right and do better next time. So let them know there's an issue.
It's so easy now to simply post a bad review online. But the first step should be to contact the business involved. If it's a great company they will try and resolve the issue for you.
For product returns, be sure to do it as soon as possible since there may be time limits on returns and refunds. And check your warranty to see if the product should go back to the store, or you need to contact the manufacturer directly.
Call or contact customer service. If You should be able to find the number for customer service on the box (if you still have it) or online. (Here is a list of Company Contact Information.) Customer service reps are often limited in what they can do. So if they can't help you, the next step to ask for a manager. If the problem is a big one, there may be several layers of management before you get to someone who has the authority to help.
Going up the Management Chain
Still no results? Try going higher up — to the national headquarters of the seller or the manufacturer of the item if necessary. You can visit the company’s web site and look for a “Contact Us” link. If you do not have the web address of the comany you can call the Toll Free directory at 1-800-555-1212 to see if the company has a toll-free number listed.
Public libraries (remember those?) have reference books with "Who is?" directories of all companies that will tell you who the president is of any corporation and their contact information. The Thomas Register of American Manufacturers lists the manufacturers of thousands of products.
If, in spite of you efforts, you can not get the issue resolved to your satisfaction, it is time to take the next steps, which could include:
- Post your experience on an online review site
- File a complaint with the BBB (Better Business Bureau)
- File a complaint with local, state or national consumer protection agencies
- Hire legal representation, if necessary.
Keys to Success
The key to your success is how you approach each person you contact. Remember they are only human beings, just like you. It is very likely that the people you are contacting have nothing to do with the cause of your problem. Assume they want to help. Writing an angry, sarcastic or threatening letter will only result in further delay.
So how to complain effectively? By calmly and accurately explaining the problem and what action you would like them to take.
You may want to start by calling, and then follow up by writing a complaint letter. This is a good strategy because you will have a record of your communication with the company and you can use the copy of it for further action.
The letter should be brief and to the point. Give as many important facts about your purchase, including what you bought, serial or model numbers, the name and location of the seller and clerk, and date you made the purchase. The more names you can list, of the people that you dealt with, the quicker the company can get to the bottom of your issue. The more details you provide (copies of paperwork, pictures, etc.) the faster you will achieve your goal. Keep the originals of the letter and any supporting documentation.
State exactly what you want done about the problem and how long you are willing to wait for a resolution. Be reasonable, but let the company know you are serious about a getting a resolution. Finally, provide your name, address and phone numbers and include the account number or order number. See our sample complaint letter as a guide.
Make sure to keep a record of all your efforts to contact the seller and all conversations, including:
- Date and time
- Name of person you spoke to and their title
- What was discussed, and any promises made
- Resolution or the next step, who will do what?
- When to expect a response
- If you did not speak to anyone and only left a message, be sure to keep a record of that, too.