By GalTime's Consumer Watchdog Mary Schwager
Get results next time you have a problem.ways for consumers to complain and get results
Who hasn't been in a situation when they feel like they've been duped, ripped off or unable to get any customer service satisfaction with resolving their complaint?
I've been there. It can be infuriating. When it comes to making sure my bills are paid on time, I'm an obsessive compulsive. So when I got some weird voice mail one-day saying, "This is Mrs. Jones from the collection department at the hospital. You have an unpaid $15 copy from a doctor's visit and we're about to send it to collection, please call us," I flipped out. Seriously? Some bill under twenty bucks that I never even got a reminder about is going to tank my credit score?
Shaking with anger, I called the number "Mrs. Jones" left. A customer service rep answered and after giving her all my info, she couldn't find the bill or any outstanding amount. Thinking this person was an idiot, I requested a supervisor. I was told, "No supervisor is here, I'm sorry."
At this point I'm even more furious. All I could think was if I don't put a stop to this there was going to be the dumbest ding to my credit rating ever. So I blurted out, "Get me Mrs. Jones, she left the message, she must know what this is about!!!"
There was a pause on the other end of the phone. Then silence. Then I heard the customer service rep's hesitant voice say, "Um, well, miss, we're all named Mrs. Jones here, that's the collection call code name." After hearing that, I wasn't sure if I should burst out laughing or start screaming. You know that old phone commercial jingle that sang "Reach out and touch someone"? I wanted to "reach out and shake someone" I was so mad. I finally got it resolved. But looking back at the situation let's just say I still can't believe my doctor's office isn't sending me materials on anger management classes.
'Don't Carve the Turkey with a Chainsaw' So what IS the best way to resolve these types of situations? Author of Don't Carve the Turkey with a Chainsaw: Resolving Family Conflict, certified mediator and psychologist Roger Frame, PhD aka: "The Conflict Whisperer," has some tips on how to navigate these frustrating situations that make you want to pull your hair out!
8 Tips for Resolving a Complaint
1. Make sure that the customer service representative you are talking to has the authority to make the changes you desire. If they don't, don't waste your time. Immediately ask to talk to someone who does, or his or her supervisor. Sometimes they will not want to get their supervisor. They may get a less favorable rating if they send too many cases to their supervisor. You need to insist on a supervisor. They cannot help if they don't have the authority to make a change.
2. Start with your facts. What happened that was unsatisfactory, when, where, etc. Try to keep your rage under control here. This is not the time to vent. "Your product is inferior," is not a fact. It is an opinion. "When I try to turn on your product, nothing happens," is a fact. Stick to the facts.
3. Ask for their interpretation of the situation. There may be an alternative explanation you hadn't considered, and listening to their side will make them more willing to listen to your interpretation.
4. Provide your interpretation and what you want them to do about it.
5. Ask them what they are prepared to do to remedy the situation. If their answer is unsatisfactory, ask to talk to a supervisor. Supervisors are frequently more attuned to public relations and may be more willing to help.
6. If the supervisor is also unwilling to help, consider what other sources of leverage you can use, and what are you willing to use. Consider positive and negative repercussion that could come from using them. What sources of power do you have?
- Position Power: Do you know someone who could influence the decision because of thee position they hold?
- Reward Power: Can you show how they benefit by meeting your needs?
- Penalty Power: Can someone penalize them if they don't comply? This might include regulatory agencies that oversee their industry.
- Referent Power: Generally this involves celebrities or other influential people they want to be like.
- Expert Power: Bring in outside experts, even some frequently used in court testimony
- Communication Power: Your ability to persuade, and convince the decision maker to your point of view.
- Networking Power: Spreading the word over the Internet. This can be positive or negative feedback. I know someone who tweeted about an impolite airline attendant. By the time they finished their flight the attendant apologized. Someone from headquarters had been monitoring tweets about their company.
7. Consider outside intervention or mediation, such as the Better Business Bureau or your state Attorney General.
8. If nothing else works, consider the best alternative to a negotiated settlement.
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