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How to Complain Successfully (and Get Results)

How to Complain Successfully (and Get Results)

The fridge has packed up, your running machine has begun to smoke, and your disk drive is not opening. We all end up with one or two faulty products. Sometimes, it is our own fault and we have to accept it. But other times we have a suspicion that we are not the ones in the wrong.

First, let’s check to see if you have a valid right to complain.

At the end of the day, there is no point complaining if you don’t have cause to do so. There is a general set of rules set out by the Sale of Goods act 1979, which discusses the rules of trading goods. It can be summarized as follows:

  • Is the product fit for the purpose it was designed for?
  • Does the product come as it was described?
  • Is the product of satisfactory quality?

If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no’, it is likely you are in a decent position to demand a refund, replacement or repair. There is more criteria covered in the Sale of Goods act, but generally, if it wasn’t your fault and you didn’t know about a problem, you have a case.

What do you want to achieve from the complaint?

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One of the strongest things you can do when confronting a business with a complaint is to demand something. This could be a full refund, a partial refund, a replacement, repair, or even compensation above and beyond the price of the goods if you feel you have suffered as a result. Think about what action you will accept from the company as a fix for the problem.

The Complaint Timeline

To make this as simple as possible, a timeline can be created from the information given to us from the Sale of Goods act. Remember that even if the warranty runs out, you are automatically covered by these rules:

< 1 month – if you have had the product for less than a month, you can expect to receive a full refund for most products. In retail terms, up until a month has passed you are still saying “I haven’t accepted the product is right yet.”

< 6 months – Up until the 6-month period has passed, the Sale of Goods act, together with the Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumer Regulations 2003 tell us that it is up to the shop/trader to prove that the fault is not theirs. This effectively means that they are guilty until they have proved otherwise. At this point, you can expect to receive a refund or repair.

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< 6 years – Yes, there is still a case for goods that have gone awry even up to 6 years. If it is reasonable that the product should last at least 6 years (a £3000 refrigerator!), and YOU can prove that the fault is due to the trader, you are in for fighting chance. However, you may have to settle for a partial refund or repair since the time has been so long from purchase.

Get your weapons ready

Before complaining, you will want to gather your shield and sword by assembling any paperwork, receipts, and proof of purchase you have from the transaction. Take pictures of the flaw and spend some time searching online for information about the problem. There may be a solution available or you can read up on how others have reacted to the same problem (the famous XBOX 360 ‘Red Rings’ still haunt thousands of gamers today). All of this can help you when you begin communicating and complaining to the trader.

You are ready to complain

You will want to start by making contact with the trader to make your complaint (whomever you signed a contract with and gave money to for the product). Call them or send them an email and tell them quite clearly that you “wish to complain” about a product. Explain the circumstance and be sure to get the name of the person you are speaking to. (You don’t want to have to explain yourself over and over again to multiple people).

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At this point, the trader has up to 8 weeks to respond to your complaint by law. You can always send reminder emails but try to remain calm…and keep it clean!

Heating it up

Whilst many businesses would have heard customers quote the Sale of Goods act, it is definitely worth bringing up. Ask to speak to a manager or even contact the director of the company if you can find a contact number for them. (Type the business name into LinkedIn, chances are is he/she has an account ;-)

If even complaining to people higher up in the company does not work, you can start to introduce the threat of further action.

“I’m seriously considering calling ‘Watchdog’ if action is not taken soon!”

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Ouch!…That will get their attention.

That’s a right hook if ever I saw one! Keep it up with another phone call and give it a more few days, but if nothing happens still, it’s time to get serious.

When it gets serious

When there seems to be nothing more you can do to get the solution you want, it is time to call in reinforcements. Getting in touch with Watchdog or with an Ombudsman Service (for financial services complaints) will give you the support you need throughout your complaining process. Watchdog may also publically shame the trader and be able to warn other possible customers to stay away!

Another course of extreme action is to file in small claims court, which will accept cases up to £3,000.

Hopefully, this has shown you how to complain and get results. For more in depth information on your consumer rights, these websites may be helpful:

Featured photo credit:  Angry man screaming via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on October 15, 2018

Why Helping Others Actually Helps Yourself

Why Helping Others Actually Helps Yourself

Helping others: it’s a fundamental part of humanity, bonding together and helping a fellow man or woman. In times of tragedy, the stories of those who help others are inspiring, such as helping the nation recover from national disasters and terrorist attacks. Some men and women even devote their lives to helping others, from the police force that protects our cities, to the fire departments who run into burning buildings, to the service men and women who risk their lives for the common good.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” ― Anne Frank, diary of Anne Frank

But helping others isn’t limited to these grand gestures or times of tribulation. Helping others can be done each and every day. And contrary to what you may have heard, helping others doesn’t always have to be a selfless act. It’s important to understand that helping others can actually help yourself. No matter what the motivation, getting out and helping others is the key. So in that spirit of motivation, here are 5 reasons why helping others actually helps yourself.

1. Quid Pro Quo

When you help someone, they will be more likely to help you. This is the basic, unspoken agreement that fuels nearly every move. I’ll spend my entire day lugging boxes, but you owe me. It’s much easier to find help when someone knows you’d do the same for them. They may not always live up to their end of the bargin, and you may not either. But if you help enough people and do many good deeds, it will be given back when needed.

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2. Karma goes both ways.

All too often, the idea of Karma is described in a negative way. If you do bad, bad will come find you. But it works the other way too. When you are a good person and help people, good things seem to happen. And while you may not believe in an inter-connected universe that rewards good deeds, there is something to be said about how helping others changes your perspective. When you’re helping others, you will often feel better about yourself, increasing the likelihood that your next experience will be a positive one, rather than a negative one.

3. Doing good feels good.

It’s maybe the most cited benefit of doing good: you’ll feel great. Helping others is a great way to feel better about yourself. Seeing a smile or even tears of joy makes it all worth it. It’s as simple as that.

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4. Good publicity is the best publicity.

People notice when you’re doing good. It may not be the reason you help out, but someone is always watching. Even the simplest gesture can make an awesome impression.

When I was in college, I had a class that helped out at a school for a full day. I worked with a small group of high school students who were incredibly interested in writing, and I had a great time. I asked the teacher if I could come back on my own time and work with these students to finish this project we were working on, to which she agreed.

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I went two more times that week, thinking nothing more about it. Fast forward a few weeks: I received a letter in the mail stating I had been chosen as a Presidential Grant Recipient for the summer and received a $2,000 stipend to work with a group of students and professors on a research project over the summer. I was floored, as I hadn’t even applied. I was nominated by that teacher who appreciated the work I did with her students. It wasn’t expected, but helping others ended up opening a door I never would have known was even available.

5. Helping others looks good on a resume or application.

Is your resume looking a little thin? Does your college application need a bit of pizzaz? Volunteering your time and energy to help others makes your resume and applications look as good as it makes you feel. Hiring managers look favorably on volunteer work and many acceptance committees use it to separate similar candidates. So read to some first graders, volunteer at the homeless shelter, and volunteer at your local Boys and Girl Club. Your resume will thank you.

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Featured photo credit: xavi talleda via flickr.com

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