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How To Complain Effectively

Updated on November 17, 2009

Don't Get Mad, Get Even!

Does a little medieval torture sound better then having to complain about a defective product or an overcharge or an unsatisfactory service? It is easy to understand if you feel this way, companies have made it extremely difficult to complain.

The first step to making a complaint is to navigate the maze of automated options when calling their call centers before you reach a real person! A little tip on this one, something I have shared in another article, try this site out to get to a real person you can cut the time on the phone down with the tips on this site.

Once you get to speak to a real person this person will have been trained on how to deflect, delay and defend. All of this is going to try your patience and is why many people just don't bother. The thing is, you work hard for your money and you deserve a fair deal when you have spent that hard earned money with someone, if you don't complain they can get away with, well not quite murder but you know what I mean.

So You Have Decided to Complain, Be Sure You Get Satisfaction!

So you have a problem with a product or service, first you need to gather your evidence. Collect the price tags, manuals, receipts, warranties and photograph or videotape the product or evidence if appropriate. Having everything together means you are prepared for whatever they might ask you for.

Now you are ready to call, you will need to adopt the right attitude so that you can effectively communicate what your problem is and what it will take to resolve this problem.

You need to clearly communicate what you want. Complaining for the sake of complaining is a waste of time, you need to know the exact nature of the complaint and what action you require. You may want to write out the key points of information to refer to.

Complain to the company not your friends or family, this will just annoy them! Sometimes all that is required is to call the company, local branch or call center, ask to speak to a manager and if they refuse then tell them the problem. Be firm and persistent while maintaining your calm. If they cannot provide satisfaction and still will not transfer you to a manager hang up.

In the case where you have hung up you can look the company up online. Find the general manager, owner or president. Going to the top makes a difference as this person often cares more about customer satisfaction then a front line person.

When you have reached a manager or supervisor stick to the point, do not deviate from the terms of your complaint. It is easy to slip into "and another thing..." arguments when you feel you are being given the run around. This will weaken not strengthen your case, the more straight forward your complaint the easier it is for the company to resolve it.

When making a complaint be sure to keep a record. At each and every stage take notes as to whom you have spoken with, the time and the response. Ask for both a first name and a last name as well. If a company has a problem with that make a note of it, they should not have a problem with providing this information.

Be reasonable with the company and give them a reasonable period of time to resolve the problem. Some problems will require some research and this may take several days for them. You can ask them to nail down the time they will need so be sure to nail down just how to long you should expect it to take. When a company says they will need to get back to you let them know that you will expect a call within 7 days.

Do you utmost to stay calm, anger or sarcasm rarely produces positive results. If you are courteous and firm the person on the other end should be more willing to help. By blowing your top you may be considered abusive and it may be more then their job is worth to help someone they feel is abusive.

State how you want the matter resolved, are you looking for a refund, a replacement, an apology or compensation? Be realistic and don't just pluck a demand out of the air as this will make your claim far less credible.

Follow up your complaints in writing if the issue is not resolved. Write the word complaint clearly at the top and include all relevant details from your contact info to copies of any documents relevant to your case (be sure to keep the originals for your records). It cannot hurt to copy complaint letters to managing directors and chief officers. You can google the company to find names and address the letter to them personally.

You can make it clear that if your complaint is not resolved that you will take the matter to whatever governmental agency that regulates the company. Just about every company is regulated by a local, state or federal agency, in the UK complaints about companies can be taken to trading standards as well as the TV show 'watchdog' and no company wants that kind of publicity!

If all of your efforts fail you can always file a lawsuit or demand arbitration, however this option is really only available if you complaint is significant or involves enough money to warrant this effort.

Good Luck and Remember, Don't get Mad, Get Even! Its your hard earned money at stake here!


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    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I love this blog Kirsten.The companies need to be given a chance to remedy their mistakes.And its not just America where people have complaints,these things happen in other parts of the world too.

    • kirstenblog profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from London UK

      mega1, ouch a whole 12 pack lost :(. It sucks when that kind of thing happens. I guess I could be really annoying and say that the universe (or whatever higher power there is) decided that you really should not drink those 12 beers on that particular day :). I doubt that helps tho! It always gets on my nerves when life decides not to give me my way thats for sure ;).

    • mega1 profile image


      9 years ago

      Yesterday, I left a whole 12-pack of Heinekin in the basket at the local SaveMor liquor store - well, I called to COMPLAIN about it when I got home and the poor girl who answered the phone couldn't decide whether to just be polite and I would go away. She was, and I did. I recognized the error of my ways. Whatever got into me, I don't know - I wanted that Heinekin - I needed it badly! If I had read your hub first, I might have gotten it back!

      I like you. You are ok!

    • kirstenblog profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from London UK

      Micky Dee I get so worked up over the corporate world! Freedom must be ever vigilant and in the past threats to our freedoms have come from government and ruling bodies like the monarchy and religion and I do think we are being led blindly into corporate slavery. Consumerism and an industry of cool seem to be doing a good job of blinding people to the manipulations of big business. For my part I don't try to 'keep up with the Joneses', I look out for the manipulations big businesses use to con us out of our money, I check my receipt before I even leaving the store for any funny business (have even noticed when I have been overcharged and said something without thinking about it lol), and I am persistant when I have been miss sold something. I will not sit back or keep quiet if I have been sold something that is faulty or does not do what it says on the box! Thats against the trade descriptions act (in the UK) and violates regulations in most countries around the world.

      On the up side I have dealt with some companies who actually value good customer service and treat their employees well. A company who treats its employees well is a company with good customer service. A winning business plan in my eyes is one that gives every employee a share of the company, if it is your company as an employee you kinda want it to be the best.

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      9 years ago

      You are right. We are being "handled". All companies are doing it. They hold workshops on how to deter the customer from stating legitimate complaints. It's at Sears, the department of motor vehicles, just anywhere you can imagine. They are counting on Americans being too busy, to domesticated, too tame, too broken, too in debt, to react. What we have more and more, in fact, is corporate slavery.

    • juneaukid profile image

      Richard Francis Fleck 

      9 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      A very interesting, fact-filled article that should prove useful at one time or another.


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