Blog Archive

How to Complain to a Company and Get Real Results




 


I've recently had to log more than one customer complaint, with different companies. Here's the strategy that worked for me:
Never let 'em see you sweat.

Even when the returns rep at one company got somewhat defensive and borderline rude, I maintained my demeanor of cool politeness. It helped that I knew she was genuinely in the wrong. If I'd allowed her to fluster me - and worse, let her KNOW that - she'd have won a victory. I wouldn't give her the satisfaction!

Be calm, NOT confrontational. With not only the above-mentioned rep but a manager at the Sears Installation Department, I politely (almost apologetically) stated my case. Screaming, cursing, and other extreme behaviors would have destroyed my credibility and allowed the reps to peg me as just another crank. If you're upset, do whatever it takes to short-circuit the urge to scream, cry or curse BEFORE you call. If you get that same urge in the middle of a call, STOP. Put THEM on hold if necessary, or call back after you've calmed down. As I mentioned above, don't give what may be a rude rep the satisfaction of even such a small victory. If it's a nice rep, you'll only make his or her work day harder by being nasty.

Be clear and concise. If the Customer Service rep can't understand what you're complaining about, how can they possibly resolve your issue? By the same token, there's no need to relate your entire life history. Briefly explain the core issue and leave it at that. Let the rep ask questions for clarification if necessary. If it helps, pretend you're leaving a voice mail message. You only have 30-60 seconds to state your case. Thinking this way should help distill your complaint into the briefest possible terms.

Do your homework before you dial. It helped that I knew pertinent dates and other information necessary to resolving my issue. If you don't have everything, the rep can usually look up your account with the information you do have.

Be patient and persistent. Sometimes the first rep you speak to can't or won't solve your issue. Sometimes they send you to "electronic limbo" hoping you'll give up and go away. Rather than give them this victory, I've waited on hold for up to 20 minutes. I've also hung up and called right back to politely explain how long I'd been on hold.

Take names. This can help your case too, especially if you have to go over someone's head, as I did.
Know when to go over the rep's head. When the Returns rep I'd spoken to became defensive, I knew it was time to take another route. I found a way to bypass her and go straight to the top in this case. I spoke to the General Manager of the company, who sent me to the rude rep's immediate supervisor. That got me results!

Follow through. We recently had two items we needed to return for repair or replacement, each going to a separate location. When I discovered, to my dismay, the wrong package got picked up, I called both involved companies immediately. The down side is, since the mistake was on our end, we'll now have to foot the bill for postage to get both packages to their separate locations.

Strategic, polite and persistent customer complaints have netted me this month: anew washing-machine manual, which should arrive any day; a $35 Sears gift card, which hubby promised to spend on me rather than himself, LOL; a promise to replace outright an item I'd sent in working condition for “evaluation,” that came back broken; and a promise to repair or replace a second item, damaged due to a power outage. (Yes, it was plugged in to a surge suppressor.)
Ya gotta love companies that take customer service seriously.