So you are a consumer and you have a complaint that you want to get resolved or an issue or concern that you would like addressed with a company or government agency. As a consumer what do you do to accomplish your goal?
· First, if you have a complaint be certain that you are legally justified in pursuing your complaint against a company or government agency. For example, read the terms of the product warranty for the product you have purchased or read the terms of service for the service you have purchased to determine whether your complaint is legally justified or not. If after you have read the terms of the warranty or the terms of service you believe that your complaint is legally justifiable, then pursue a resolution of your complaint. If your complaint or issue is against a government agency you need to determine whether what you are seeking is able to be done within the policy guidelines of the agency. If it is then take the appropriate steps to try and get your complaint or issue resolved.
· So, now that you are convinced that you are justified in pursuing a resolution of your complaint or issue and you are in a positive state of mind take the following steps to get your complaint or issue resolved.
· Determine who you need to call and speak with about your complaint or issue. Do some research about the company or government agency and find out what is the most appropriate department to contact as well as the most appropriate person to call and discuss your complaint or issue with. Most consumers mistakenly call a company’s or government agency’s regular toll-free customer service line and speak with a customer service representative about their complaint or issue only to discover that the person they are speaking with is not empowered to help them resolve their complaint or issue. As a consumer advocate I seldom call the company or government agency’s regular toll-free customer service line. Calling the number, being placed on hold for up to 45 minutes, only to reach a representative who informs me that they can not help me is very frustrating so I generally do not go that route to try and get a complaint or issue resolved for a consumer I am advocating for.
· To minimize your frustration as a consumer you want to speak with the person who can help you in the fastest amount of time possible. When it comes to my resolving consumer complaints or issues with a company or government agency for a consumer, I most generally contact the corporate headquarters or agency headquarters and politely and positively ask the receptionist to help me. I ask her or him to please connect me with someone in a supervisory position in the customer service or consumer relations department who can help me resolve the consumers complaint or issue. With some government agencies citizens are provided a caseworker or case manager. In that situation as a consumer advocate I would call or as the consumer representing yourself you would call the case worker or case manager to try and get your complaint resolved. If you can not get your complaint resolved at that level then you would ask to speak with someone in a supervisory position at the agency who can help you. Almost all major companies have a customer service or consumer relations department that provides “expedited” or “complaint escalation” services to respond to consumer’s complaints or issues. In some companies I have heard the departments referred to as the “executive customer relations” or “executive consumer relations” department. You want to speak with someone at the executive level to experience the fastest resolution to your consumer complaint.
· If you can get your complaint or issue resolved over the phone as a result of your call then that is a good thing. If you can not get your complaint or issue resolved by the person you are speaking with, or if it appears that the person you are speaking with does not fully understand your complaint or issue, ask them for an email address or a fax number so that you can send the complaint to them for further consideration and action. If you are going to send the person an email or fax set a time frame for them to respond. Inform them if they do not respond back to you within the agreed upon period of time you are going to call them again. And, if they do not respond to you call them back. If you get the person’s voice mail leave a message for them. In your message state that you would like them to respond or to have someone respond to your complaint within a certain time frame and that if they do not you will call them again. Call them one more time and if you get their voice mail or you speak with them personally and do not get your complaint or issue resolved then you “expedite” or “escalate” your complaint personally to the office of the president or CEO of the company.
· If you are not able to get your complaint or issue resolved by someone with the company then you want to file a complaint against the company with the appropriate government agencies such as your state’s Attorney General’s office as well as the AG office in the state where the company is headquartered. If your complaint concerning the company is because of fraudulent, deceptive or unfair business practices you would also want to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Visit their website to file a complaint at www.ftc.gov.
About the Author:
Harold Cameron is The Chief of Helping People and Consumer Advocate for HaroldSays and Complaints.com and Ambassador of Positivity for The Be Positive Day.