If you’ve ever bought a product or service that did not live up to expectations and asked for a refund or partial credit, you know how frustrating it can be. What do you do when your complaints to customer service don’t get results? You could file a lawsuit and sue the company for recompense, but that is a last resort for most people due to the cost and time commitment involved; unless thousands of dollars are involved it’s usually not worthwhile. There are other ways to get what you want without resorting to litigation.
Contact senior management. Front line workers and customer service reps are often the moat protecting the castle. They are there to resolve simple issues and to dissuade you from further pursuing your complaint. When they tell you there is nothing more “they” can do, it is often technically true – they personally are restricted by the company from doing more, but often the “company” can do more. If you’re not satisfied always ask for a manager. If they tell you they cannot escalate the issue to a manager, insist on it and ask for their name and ID – always record a name and an ID when possible so they’re aware you plan to hold them liable for what they tell you. It’s also useful if you need to speak with the office of the president as they typically want to know that you’ve spoken to customer support and a manager before contacting them.
If customer support won’t transfer you to a manager, contact corporate head office directly and ask, by name, for the VP of Customer Support or VP of Sales or someone with a similar title – check their website for the name of the person who holds this title. Typically the higher up the chain of command you go, the more leeway they will have to resolve your issue. Be persistent. Don’t give up until you feel you have received a satisfactory response, or you don’t have anyone higher up to contact. If necessary contact the “office of the president”.
Threaten without threatening. Blatant threats tend to make people combative. So instead of threatening to sue them, hint at a less-than-beneficial outcome for their company should your situation go unresolved. For instance, if you are speaking with a person in management senior enough to care about the company’s reputation – you might say, “I have pictures of the terrible work your company did. I would rather show the pictures to you and resolve this issue privately, than post the pictures on Facebook or Twitter where your potential customers will likely see them.”
Speak to your credit card company. If you used your credit card for the purchase, your credit card company will sometimes be willing to help resolve a dispute, if not reverse a charge, especially if you have some proof that the company did not give you what you paid for. Merchants do not want to develop a bad reputation with the credit card companies so if you involve them, the company may be more willing to resolve your issue.
Reserve at least 25% of the payment until completion. If at all possible, one strategy that you should keep in mind when purchasing anything of value is to withhold a portion of the payment until the completion of the transaction. Do not make the final payment unless you are completely satisfied. This holds especially true with contractors.
Take a picture. The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” couldn’t be more true when explaining to a company why you don’t think you got what you paid for. If you ordered a product and it arrives broken in the box, take a few photos of it in the box. If someone did a horrible job painting your house, take a photo. There is nothing more descriptive than a picture when trying to resolve a situation like this with company management. And if you ever decide to use mediation or arbitration or go to court, pictures can be very useful evidence.
A few considerations prior to complaining. Prior to speaking with anyone about your situation, concisely record the details of your complaint and know what your ideal resolution is and what you will settle for. You need to explain why you are dissatisfied and what you would like done to correct the problem. Shoot high without being unreasonable. Keep copies of all correspondence with the company.
Post your dispute on eQuibbly. If all else fails simply post your dispute on eQuibbly. You will have a better chance of the company responding on eQuibbly if you provide us with the email address for the VP of Customer Service or a similar position. If you can’t find an email address, eQuibbly may be able to find it for you – use the “Help – Contact Us” tab on the homepage.
Whatever route you choose, keep reminding yourself to be polite but firm. Do not lose your temper or your sense of humor. It will be easier to come to a satisfactory resolution if you are reasonable and fair.
What strategies have worked for you when you complained to a company about their product or service?