Companies are replacing the old adage “the customer is always right” with “the customer is right, as long as it does not cost the company money or extra effort.” Customers are facing new policies that hamper, frustrate, and limit a customer’s ability and determination to process a complaint, request additional assistance, validate a warranty or receive support for services they have purchased.

Overcome these barriers, by doing the necessary research, creating an action plan, and by presenting your case in a resolute and concise manner.

Research

Before doing anything, be realistic about the seriousness of your complaint. Do not spend days researching and preparing your case, when it is obvious that pursuing a resolution is a waste of your time.

If the issue is minor, or major, treat it as such. Your expectations can range from registering a complaint without any expectations of compensation, to the extreme of pursuing a legal settlement.

Either way, all the relevant information you need will be available on the internet.

Use the following sites to support your case:

Resources to review:

  • Internet forums – Use Google to search out references to similar complaints; these searches will usually lead you to online forums. Use the forums to ask for advice and learn how to resolve your complaint.
  • Disclosures – Some companies must offer a verbal or written disclosure to consumers. Both governments and industry groups can institute these policies and they are in place to protect the consumer, the company, and the industry. Ultimately, if a company does not offer a mandatory disclosure, they can be fined or shutdown for non-compliance
  • Contracts – Your contract will stipulate the specific details of your purchase. They outline the minimum responsibilities and restrictions a company and a client needs to adhere to when they enter into a legal agreement.
  • Government Customer Affairs / Customer Advocacy Groups – These sites list consumer protection polices for the individual States and Provinces in North America. These can include the maximum interest a company can charge on a loan or credit card, examples of dishonest business practices, and contact information to register an official complaint.
  • Class Action Suit – you may be one of hundreds of wronged customers. Moreover, there may be no other alternative other than becoming a plaintive in a mass suit and hope for the best.
  • Corporate Websites – Review what commitments the company has made to   their consumers, the community and shareholders. Also, compare the policies of the retailer and the manufacturer; then decide who is more likely to resolve your complaint.

Depending on the region, there may be laws that give consumers a period of time in which they can review a contract and cancel the agreement without the fear of incurring any penalties or fees.

In addition, omitting a necessary written or verbal disclosure during a purchase can invalidate a signed contract.

It is critical that you create a secure folder that contains all your valid and current warranties, contracts, receipts and disclosures. Do not count on businesses to keep these types of documents on file.

Plan of Action

Take a moment to decide how you will present your case. Start by listing your strongest arguments and support your facts with any relevant information you have gathered from your research.

A written plan of action will keep you focused, calm, and keep your arguments concise and steadfast. Keeping your story straight is important, because you might have to repeat your story to several different people during the escalation of your complaint.

Follow these tips before presenting your complaint to a company:

  • Present your argument to your friends and family. Ask for honest feedback and then use that information to decide if you are ready to move forward.
  • Construct a timeline by adding every relevant action taken by you, or the company since you made your complaint.
  • Show your appreciation to anyone at the company who offers to assist you, even if it does not resolve the issue. As you move forward with your complaint, they can become key contacts.
  • Create a list of two or three satisfactory resolution options and present them to the company.  The less wiggle room you give the company the better. Force them to work within your parameters.
  • Remind yourself over and over again of why you deserve a fair and equitable resolution

Build up your immunity to corporate excuses:

  • Believe that you count, and your business is important to the company.
  • There is no harm in trying, and it is your responsibility as a consumer to fight for your rights
  • Ask for support from your friends or family. Receive moral support by having people sit beside you during a phone call and ask them to assist you in writing a letter.
  • Try to stay calm and strive not to take it personally. Getting upset will only make it harder to get a good outcome.

Increasing profits and stock prices has become the driving force used in structuring a company’s philosophy and policies. As a result, resolving complaints can now become a form of trench warfare.

Counter these obstacles by presenting a case that demonstrates that you are dedicated, knowledgeable, and ready to negotiate a fair settlement.

(Photo credit: consumers from Shutterstock)

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