Vol. 8, Issue 6November 2016


Filing a Complaint Effectively

You probably have had the experience of getting poor service or a product that did not live up to your expectations and decided to complain to the company that provided the product or service. Experts suggest that how you present your complaint can have a significant effect on how the company responds. For example:

Wait until you cool off. If you call or write a letter when you are mad, you are less likely to be effective. First, you probably will not be able to express yourself as well as you would if you were less angry. And you give the company an excuse to dismiss you as irrational.

Be clear about why you were dissatisfied. Give specifics about ways in which the product or service did not meet your expectations. Be sure your expectations were reasonable to start with. If your complaint involves a guarantee or warranty, make sure to read all the fine print.

Think about how you want the company to respond. Do you want a refund and/or an apology? Be sure that what you want is within the company’s ability to give you.

Understand your leverage. In the end, companies want to make customers happy – but not if it costs too much. So, for example, if you have been a good customer of the company for many years, mention that. It probably will make them much more responsive to your complaint.

Be polite in your communication. Avoid name-calling or threats. Explain calmly what happened and how you would like the company to respond. Being easy to work with often enhances your chance of success.

Document everything. If you write a letter or email, keep copies of your letter or email and the company’s response. If you send a letter, consider sending it return receipt requested; that way you have proof that the company received the letter. If you make a call, write down the name of the person or people you talked to, their phone number, and what they told you.

Know what you plan to do if you aren’t satisfied. How far are you willing to go if your interactions with the company are unsuccessful? You can file a complaint with an agency such as the Better Business Bureau. You can pursue legal action against the company. Or you can simply resolve never to deal with the company again and to tell everyone you know about your experience.

Photo © Antonio Guillem |