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Consumer Attack! Taking on Corporations and Winning

Consumer Attack! Taking on Corporations and Winning

    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.

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    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:

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    • 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.

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    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.

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    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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    Last Updated on July 10, 2020

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

    We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

    So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

    Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

    What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

    Boundaries are limits

    —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

    Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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    Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

    Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

    Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

    How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

    Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

    1. Self-Awareness Comes First

    Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

    You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

    To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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    You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

    • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
    • When do you feel disrespected?
    • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
    • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
    • When do you want to be alone?
    • How much space do you need?

    You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

    2. Clear Communication Is Essential

    Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

    Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

    3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

    Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

    That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

    Sample language:

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    • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
    • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
    • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
    • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
    • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
    • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
    • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

    Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

    4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

    Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

    Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

    Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

    We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

    It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

    It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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    Final Thoughts

    Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

    Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

    Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

    The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

    Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

    Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

    They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

    Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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