THE KEY TO ALL YOUR TROUBLES: How to Complain EFFECTIVELY
After reading the stories of many posters on this site, I can really feel the emotion and frustration and feeling of despair, like no one cares, coming through in your words. Many of you, I am sure, have asked yourself "Why won't the company help me? Aren't I the customer? Isn't the customer ALWAYS right? Isn't it against the company's best interest to deliver poor service to the consumer? Shouldn't these companies value their patrons, who make their continued existence possible?"
I bet many of you after asking those questions have been overcome by a resounding dead silience in which your mind seems to answer with a cold, heartless "NO". --No the company does not care about you, because they know, for the most part, that the small portion of people who actually do complain and try to contact the company, will eventually give up after running into un-navigable telephone menus, rude "service" and support people, and a barrage of deception and hostility that they know will take you more time to overcome, investigate, and pursue than the average busy person has available to them.
Has this happened to you more than once in your life? If so, you may be karmically reaping the fruit of your failure to address the matter the first time it happened, because you felt it was too HARD and TIME-CONSUMING. But, if you really think about it, aren't the things that take the most effort, usually the most satisfying when you finally triumph in the end? Would it be worth all the money, time, and potential for happiness you could lose in the future, to invest a little bit of time now to defend your right to be treated fairly as a consumer and an individual?
If you are already at the point where you are willing to invest a little time actively pursuing effective resolution, you may be asking yourself "But how?" Ahh, that is the rub, isn't it! Well, guess what: I think I may have the answer you are looking for. While doing an AMAZON search for books on complaint writing, I came across the title: "Shocked, Appalled, and Dismayed! How to Write Letters of Complaint That Get Results", by Ellen Phillips. I ordered this book from Barnes & Noble, along with others, and did my comparisons. Ms. Phillips' book won HANDS DOWN. I encourage you to do your own research, but if you feel you don't want to spend the time, I will give you a headstart. It is as if Ms. Phillips recognizes the labrynthian maze before us, and having travelled the maze before, she knows where the trapdoors are, how to avoid pitfalls, and she offers us the keys to the doors of opportunity and effective complaining.
Here are a few of the important keys Ms. Phillips provides:
1) Try to talk to a representative on the phone. This is always the first step. If they agree to and follow-through on a solution you approve of, then you are good to go! You should even consider writing a commendation for them.
But, in case they are uncooperative, uncaring, ineffective, and/or deceptive,
2) ALWAYS document EVERYTHING! This includes (for each person you speak with):
* Name of the person you talk to and their REPRESENTATIVE ID NUMBER
* Time you called
* Amount of time on hold
* What you called about
* The resolution you sought
* Level of cooperativeness of the representative
* Did the representative seem competent?
* What promises did they make? (dates, times, dollar amounts, when someone would call back, etc.)
* Did they refer you to someone else (a supervisor, or another department)?
3) The most effective route to satisfaction is ALMOST ALWAYS to write to the TOP person first. Don't bother with low-level, call-center representives, or counter clerks who likely have very little ability to take the action you would require (reimbursement, replacement, repair, apology, etc.). Instead, write to the CEO, President, Board Chair, etc., to ensure the best possibility of getting your concerns addressed in a timely and effecive manner.
4) Always send copies of your letters to regulatory agencies, and anyone else who is an interested party. In her book, Ms. Phillips lists the names of hundreds(?) of agencies for your convenience. In fact, the only real thing that is antiquated about this tome, are the SPECIFIC names for the officers of the listed organizations and regulatory bodies (eg: Attorney General - Janet Reno). It takes relatively little effort in this day and age to do a Google search for the current names.
5) Better Business Bureaus are useless. They have no real mandate or requirement to help you in your dispute with their member companies. From my own personal experience, I have known this to be disappointingly true. In my opinion, though you might find some informative articles and publications on their BBB sites, as a source of relief and satisfaction they really seem to miss the mark by a mile.
6) Ms. Philips concienciously makes us aware of special laws which apply in various scenarios, that the general public is mostly oblivious of.
These are only a few of the marvelous insights offered by "Shocked, Appalled, and Dismayed"!
You may notice that the copyright on the book is 1998 (revised in 1999)--10 years ago (I am writing this 08/26/08). Never fear! This book is not antiquated in content. Ninety-Eight percent of the content in this book is still relevant today.
For those of you like me who prefer books that list various examples, scenarios, and case studies, this book does not disappoint! I highly recommend "Shocked, Appalled, and Dismayed" to anyone who wants to know how to complain effectively to resturants, airlines, hotels, car rental places, auto mechanics, dead-beat parents, etc. For a balanced view, there is even a small section, including multiple examples, on writing THANK YOU notes and letters.
It took me 3 hours to craft this recommendation. After the enormous satisfaction and cornucopia of information I received from Ms. Phillips' book, I would be karmically remiss were I not to write this recommendation. My goal is to help you help yourself by giving you a "map", if you will, to the small dirt path, that leads through a dense jungle, to a heavily guarded, forbidden city where you will FINALLY find all the answers you have been seeking. Again, don't take my word for it: do your own research and find out for yourself!
I hope you find this review helpful. Now, go out into the world and make it a better place by standing up for yourself and showing those who would hold you down that your are not going to take it ANYMORE!
Peace and blessings,
**** [DISCLAIMER: This document is a collection of opions, not a statement of fact. Neither the author of this book (Ellen Phillips), nor the author of this review (Me) is responsible for actions you may or may not take based on your readings, understandings, and interpretations of this review.]