How to Complain and Get Results
Effective complaining - resolving complaints.
How to state what you want and get a refund, exchange or credit. Step-by-step explanation of who to talk to, what to say, what to write. Many examples of successful complaint resolutions.
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By Debi Drecksler

Complaining about a service or product can produce desirable results or leave the "complainer" frustrated, angry, and/or empty handed. Success often depends on the approach and attitude of the "complainer."

Recently, my husband had a pair of slacks tailored at a store that allowed customers to bring in outside purchases. After paying for the alterations, he discovered that one leg was hemmed shorter than the other with no material left to rectify the error. When the store refused to take responsibility for the tailor's mistake (the manager claimed that the tailor operated as a separate entity), I called the corporate office to express my concern.

== RULE #1: How you say it can make a difference. 

I was immediately put through to the Vice-President of Operations. As I related my story to him, I remained pleasant and calm.

== RULE #2: Treat the person with the same respect that you expect back in return.

He seemed genuinely concerned about the situation and informed me it was company policy to meet the customer's expectations. Rather than arguing about the "legality" of the situation (whose responsibility was it to pay for the pants.. the store, the tailor, or the customer), he immediately offered to send me a gift-certificate for the price of the slacks, and the price of the alterations. His priority seemed to be to keep me happy as a customer, and to maintain the positive reputation the store had achieved for 32 years. 

Expressing concerns over the telephone can also produce positive results if the consumer is very organized before engaging in conversation. I recently was dissatisfied with a hair product that a popular company had just put on the market. Having used many of their products through the years (and having been very pleased with them) I assumed the company would appreciate my feedback. When the customer service representative answered my call I told her that though I loved their line of hair products, I did not feel the product I had most recently purchased lived up to my expectations. (BE POLITE) I gave her the pertinent information off the jar (BE PREPARED) and explained why I was disappointed. (BE CONCISE). 

In this particular situation ,I felt the price was too steep for such a small jar. I also did not feel that the product produced the results promised on the label. The end result was a friendly "thank for your input" from the representative and a choice to receive either my money back or coupons for their other products. I chose the coupons because I knew from previous experience that many companies tend to be more generous with their coupons. Several days later an envelope containing coupons worth twice the amount of my purchase arrived at my door.


By Debi Drecksler

Many years ago, I tried to return a defective pocketbook I had purchased at an independently owned store in my neighborhood. With my young children by my side, I stood there practically in tears as the owner not only refused my return (I had the receipt), but insinuated that I had done something to cause the purse to fall apart. As my children and I walked out of the store, my eight-year-old son turned to me and said, "Mommy, don't ever let anyone do that to you again." I learned a valuable lesson that day. People can't intimidate you unless you allow them to.

There are several ground rules regarding complaining when you are dealing with shoddy workmanship and defective products:

== As a consumer you have a right to return merchandise that doesn't live up to reasonable expectations.

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