This past May, after prices for used cars and trucks spiked, Smith decided to sell the Silverado. He had it appraised by CarMax, which offered him $1,000 more than he had initially paid for it. "In the end, I essentially got paid to drive it for a year and a half," says Smith.
Dealing with a defective product or bad service can be frustrating. But by using time-tested strategies for complaining effectively, you'll have a good chance of getting satisfaction. Above all, remain calm and be politeâ€”and be prepared to be persistent. Confronting a business can be time-consuming and often takes patience.
Keep your cool
Before you pick up the phone or go online, take some time to prepare your case. And whenever you need to make a complaint, first take your emotions out of the conversation. Essentially, be nice, says customer service consultant
The more precisely you can describe the details of your situation, the more likely you are to get results, says Khozam. But while it is important to provide context and give the whole picture, be careful not to overwhelm the company with unnecessary information. "Make sure that when you submit a complaint, you only mention the facts," says
Also, if you have called a company repeatedly about inept service and been ignored, explain how many times you have called and when. If you are a loyal customer, you might also mention how long you have been patronizing the company and what you like about the business.
Aim for the top
In any event, speaking with a human is often your best bet. So if you don't get results by submitting an online form or using an automated online chat system or an automated attendant via phone, see if you can reach a customer service representative. Sometimes, that's not easyâ€”phone menus and websites may not provide a way to reach a representative directlyâ€”and you may have to look outside of the company's resources to find out how to get in touch with an actual person.
Doing a little of your own research may go a long way. Try visiting www.gethuman.com, which has phone numbers and shortcuts for how to reach a real person at a number of companies. You can also often find the names and contact information of company CEOs and C-suite employees via LinkedIn or at websites such as www.ceoemail.com.
An owner or manager is more likely to be able to help you than most other company employees, says Khozam. "And if you communicate your situation in a calm and detailed manner, an owner or a manager can likely do something," she says.
Social media's role in consumer complaints has grown substantially in recent years. "Reviews on social media can make or break a business," says Khozam, and a good business with a good owner will be on top of its social media presence. Sometimes a company will even have someone reviewing its social media. But while leaving a review online or commenting on a business's social media page may be an effective way to get their attention quickly, Khozam recommends using social media as a last resort.
Contacting a consumer agency or government bureau can help. But be sure you understand its role; some organizations mediate between the consumer and the business, while others simply collect complaints to detect patterns. In many cases, the
If your bank or any kind of financial service provider makes a mistake at your expense, you could file a complaint with the
If you have a complaint, file it at the
The vast majority of complaints come via the agency website, says Steckel. Identify the product or service, state the issue that you have with it, name the financial company and express your desired resolution, and the
Keep expectations in check
Consider some preventive strategies to avoid disappointment. One is the 24-hour rule, says McDonald. If you are thinking about making a major purchase, give yourself at least 24 hours to think it over. If you have time to do research, read consumer reviews and check out a company before you patronize it. The Better Business Bureau's website has reviews and complaints about member businesses. You can also share your complaint about a company on its public BBB complaints page; many companies will respond and engage with consumers there. Simply search for the company on the BBB website, select its page, scroll to the section labeled "Customer Complaints" and click "File a Complaint" to write a complaint of your own. You'll also be able to see whether other consumers have had similar issues and how the company responded to those complaints.
Your rights when you buy a lemon
If you recently purchased a new or used car that has not met your expectations, you may have legal options. "Lemon laws," which protect buyers of so-called lemon cars, vary by state. State lemon laws generally refer to a lemon as a vehicle purchased or leased recently (usually within the past year or two) with defects that the manufacturer or dealer cannot correct within a reasonable amount of time.
All 50 states have some kind of new car lemon law. Under most state laws you are entitled to a full refund for a new car that qualifies as a lemon.
- SEE MORE Getting a Used Car Deal in a Tight Market
Seven other states have certain protections for used vehicle buyers.
You can review detailed information on lemon laws for every state at the Better Business Bureau's