Filing A Complaint With Your Phone Company: Use Hired Goons!
If you have gotten to this point, you’re probably considering hired guns to help you with your little phone company problem. Well before you employ a team of mercenaries or ask for a favor which can’t be refused, there are a few last resort type options you may wish to explore. I’m assuming that you have already set your goals, given them a chance to correct the problem, and gone through appropriate state and federal resources here as well.
I suppose I’ll start off with a group that previously hasn’t fit into any other categories: The Better Business Bureau. In case you have been living under a rock for the past 50 or so years, this group is actually dedicated to helping you resolve your issues with companies. On their website, not only can you file a report with them, but you can also research companies BEFORE you decide to do business with them. While their process for filing a complaint is very straight forward, they really don’t have any teeth to dig into your phone company. They are a private organization and do not have the power to levy any sort of fee, fine, or restriction on the company. This sort of process works best with small mom and pop type businesses, not your large companies. It certainly doesn't hurt to let them know about your experiences, but essentially they just act as a middle man.
Did you know that your telecom company probably belongs to a trade association? There are multiple trade associations that work to advance the telecommunications industry and their goals. Some focus on broadband internet, some cater specifically to rural telephone providers and CLECs. These groups usually fall into the powerless category, but you may wish to research and see if your company as a member and reach out to the trade group. Essentially they have no authority over the company, but it could spark a source of embarrassment. If you think about it, lets say you are a registered nurse and you belong to a larger group of nurses. If a patient makes a complaint about you to your professional trade organization, that could be devastating to your career and essentially embarrass you in front of your peers. Ok so it’s probably not that dramatic in the telecom world, but you can see my point. Because many of these organizations do not openly advertise their membership, you may wish to contact some of the board members directly since they don’t really have a process in place for complaints and issue resolution. My advice is to take a “Can you please point me in the right direction?” approach if you choose to go this route.
Another option is social media. While I don’t necessarily mean tweeting about a bad experience and expecting something to happen, I do recommend seeking out social media resources. Most companies actually have a presence on Twitter, Facebook, and yes even MySpace if they have been around long enough. There is usually a dedicated team of people that get to post for the entire company in regards to their social media presence. I have seen quite a few effective communications via this method in the past. Because it is such a public forum, often times, representatives will bend over backwards to help you out if they can. Just remember, be respectful, and don’t just reply to a post about their wonderful new product with a response of “XYZ Company sucks.. Blah Blah Blah”, you may wish to contact them with a private message first.
What about the actual media? It was quite common for customers who were upset to stress to me that they would be contacting their local paper, TV station, radio station, and even their ham radio buddies to help spread the word about how they felt that they were mistreated. While this certainly does have a time and place, there are a few drawbacks. The biggest thing that I can think of is that you actually have to be right! In addition your problem must have the potential to effect multiple people. If it is just you, odds are the media will not get involved. Seriously, if you were mis-billed one time for $10, and you were the only one, no one is really going to care. Now if everyone in your neighborhood mysteriously has a bogus $10 charge, then that’s a different story. When contacting local media outlets, you really must be sure you have your facts straight about the issue at hand. Is a local TV investigative reporter really going to go to bat for you if you were 4 days late with your payment and the company simply refuses to credit your late payment fee? Probably not. I have generally found that a well written letter to the editor of a local newspaper will often times spark a call back from your companies' public relations department.
Wow, we are rapidly running out of options here for your fight with the telephone overlords. The very last resort that I have for you is legal action. While customers threatened me daily with this, in all honesty I have NEVER ONCE IN MY 13 YEARS had a customer follow through with their threat. Why is that you say? Simple, if a customer is calling in claiming they didn’t make the $100 worth of long distance calls, and they can’t afford such a huge phone bill, they won’t be able to afford the attorney’s fees either. Filing a lawsuit is very expensive. Even if your brother in law is an attorney, there are out of pocket expenses involved with actually filing the suit. Is it worth all the time and aggravation simply to stick it to the man? Maybe! Because I have never actually seen this process through to completion, I would love to hear from you the reader as to how you actually went about doing this, or if you were successful. Please share your success stories as well as the pitfalls to avoid.
Hopefully you have read through each of the guides here. My blog is filled with multiple articles that are designed to help you resolve your telecommunications issues in a swift manner. Please feel free to explore them and check out the resources at hand. If I have missed something, please let me know. Good luck with your battle!
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