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Does It Pay To Complain?

Best Ways To Make Things Right When A Purchase Goes Wrong
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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Written by Brooke Wagner

A couple of weeks ago I ordered my daughter a swimsuit from a favorite online store during their end-of-season clearance. When the box arrived, it contained a man’s polo shirt instead. I called customer service, and the very nice representative informed me I would need to re-box and ship the shirt back to them – and not until it was received and processed would I receive my refund (my original item was now sold out).

It could take up to a month to get my money back, because of a mistake the company made – and I never even get my item! What?! I decided to employ some tips I recently read on GoodHousekeeping.com. I’m sure you’ve had something similar happen to you, so I thought I’d share those ideas for successful complaining.

First, keep all emails, paperwork, receipts, and names relating to the purchase. I like to store them for at least a couple of months. When you complain to a company you’re most likely to get what you want if you have your ducks in a row, and this information is key to that.

Next, don’t call or email before you know what it is you want. What’s the ideal resolution to your problem? When you have an idea (and a positive attitude) then dial or press “send.”

Getting angry doesn’t help anyone, certainly not you or your blood pressure. In fact, keeping the conversation light and even complimenting the company on other experiences or products can really help your case. The squeaky wheel doesn’t always get the grease. Every time I’ve worked through customer service, the representative is much more likely to help me when I keep it positive. It’s just business, not personal. I’ve learned it won’t help to take the problem out on someone who probably had nothing to do with the mistake. Plus you’ll just feel like a better person when you hang up.

If you’re communicating through email be sure to spell and grammar check. This will support your credibility. And set a time table. For instance, if you send an email you should look for a response within 48 hours.

So how did my little issue work out last week? After the customer service rep made two trips to talk with his supervisor and still came back with an answer of “no,” I said, “I know this puts you in a tough position, but I shop with your company often because I love the selection and convenience. If you look at my order history, I’m sure you’ll see what I mean. I have to say, I’m really disappointed in a policy that makes me pay for (the company’s) mistake and I’m afraid you’ve lost a customer.”

I tried to stay calm and friendly, and after one more visit with the supervisor, I had my immediate refund. I had one specific resolution in mind, and an exact timeline. As I learned to say down south, you catch more flies with honey!

Please write me with any of your customer service tips.

About The Blogger

- In her Brooke’s Bargains blog Brooke Wagner writes about finding bargains and saving money for her family. She calls it one of her favorite hobbies. Blog entries cover everything from the latest steals, deals, and freebies to cheap family activities, saving for college, and what to buy right now. Tweet Brooke your ideas at @BrookeCBS4.

Consider placing the post in Links & Info. Publish to Blogs and Brooke’s Bargains categories.

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