We've all had this happen to us: a product fails to do what it promised, a bill comes back with an error, a travel reservation is lost. I have encountered that situation repeatedly in my life: flight times were changed without notification, nail polish that promises not to chip, falls apart and even a shipment of holiday cards arrived with no cards, only envelopes.
It makes me want to scream! But... instead of screaming (well, most of the time!), I have found ways to navigate the system. Most mistakes aren't malicious, they are just that: mistakes. We all make them, but I believe how we handle them once they are made shows our true character.
The first line of defence is most likely an 800 number to customer service. Many dread this option because it takes some patience to navigate the options and reach a human.
I would like to encourage everyone to make that call! We shouldn't be accepting less than our due. Sure, everyone makes mistakes but there is little incentive to fix the process if it is cheaper to keep the status quo. By contacting companies and asking for problems to be corrected we are sending them a clear message.
Some tips for calling customer service:
- Always be polite. The person on the phone is often not the person that made the error.
- State your case clearly and ask for a resolution (I would like a replacement, I would like a refund)
- If the representative says they are unable to help, they are often telling the truth. The goal is to get in touch with someone who can, ask to speak to a supervisor.
- Escalate more, if need be. Continually ask to speak to someone at a higher level until you find someone who has the power to give a yes.
- Did I mention be polite?
- Keep a record of every call and every person that you speak to.
- Talk about the outcome. If a company makes a mistake (as we all do) and works quickly to correct the problem, they should be rewarded with praise. If a company refuses to address their own issues, others should warned.
Sometimes it will take one call and others it might take repeated efforts, but unless we hold companies accountable for poor products/behavior, they will continue to provide sub par services.
Let me know what’s on your mind. If you would like help resolving a consumer problem, send me an email at help (at) thelistonradio.com. Explain the issue in no more than five sentences, the company in question and what resolution you're after. I will work on fixing your legitimate consumer issue -- insurance, health care, phone or cable service, construction, automotive repair or purchase, elder care, child care, real estate, banking, airlines, travel, hotels ... in short, purchases of product and/or services of just about any legal sort.