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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 December 2, 2018

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

1. Connecting them with each other

Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

2. Connect with their emotions

Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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3. Keep going back to the beginning

Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

4. Link to your audience’s motivation

After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

5. Entertain them

While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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6. Appeal to loyalty

Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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