How to Handle Your Own Complaint

Identify the problem: Before you complain to a company, be sure to identify the problem, summarize what (if anything) you have done to resolve it, and decide what you think is a fair settlement. Do you want your money back? Would you like the product repaired? Do you want the product exchanged?

Gather records: Start a file about your complaint. Include copies of sales receipts, repair orders, warranties, canceled checks, and contracts that will back up your complaint and help the company solve your problem.

Contact the person or a representative of the business who sold you the item or performed the service. Calmly and accurately explain the problem and what action you would like taken. If that person is not helpful, ask for the supervisor or manager and restate your case. A large percentage of consumer problems are resolved at this level. Chances are, yours will be too.

Keep a record of your efforts and include notes about whom you spoke with and when, and what was done about the problem. Save copies of any letters you send to the company as well as letters sent to you.

Be persistent: If you are not satisfied with the response, don't give up. If the company operates nationally or the product is a national brand, call or write a letter to the person responsible for consumer complaints at the company's headquarters, i.e., the company's public relations representative or president. Many companies have toll-free telephone numbers, often printed on the product.

Writing a Complaint Letter:

The letter should include your name, address, home and work telephone numbers, email address and account number, if appropriate. Make your letter brief and to the point. Specify the important facts about your purchase, including the date and place you made the purchase and any information you can give about the product -- such as the serial or model number. If you are writing to complain about a service you received, describe the service and who performed it. State exactly what you want done about the problem and how long you are willing to wait to resolve it. Be reasonable. Include copies (not originals) of all documents regarding your problem.


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