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Monday, January 26, 2015

I have a complaint...

Are you listening? I have a complaint! Ever feel like you’ve been taken advantage of and didn’t know where to turn?

No, I’m not talking about every Friday when your teen is standing in the door with their hand out thinking you are going to fund their movie/pizza night.

I’m talking about that feeling of being screwed over by your local merchant, landlord or whoever. Ever wanted to lodge a formal complaint and didn’t know how?

Here are some tips on complaining effectively so your message can be heard in some non-traditional ways.

I use social media. Many companies today use social media, like Facebook and Twitter, to communicate their message, and their public relations divisions monitor postings like a hawk. Using their social media platforms to voice your complaint can bring quick results.

Submit online reviews. Many goods and services are reviewed on-line, from apartments to hotels to cars and beyond. Many people use the on-line reviews to make their buying decisions on larger purchases. These review sites are good places to post a rant as well as a rave, as long as the emotion is removed and you stick to the facts. Examples of on-line review sites are, and The apartment complex where my daughter resides monitors and responds quickly to rants to mitigate any negative effects. (I really wish they would hear my complaint of lowering her rent).

Post to complaint sites. Some websites focus strictly on complaints. Visit:,,,, and

Run it up the line. Should you encounter, in your opinion, a customer service representative that seems to have a limited amount of assistance for your situation, consider elevating it to a supervisor or even the CEO. Using the internet, it’s generally not difficult to find the corporate offices of the company to which you are complaining, and a contact-us form or email address to the front offices.

Besides the corporate web site, other sources such as Yahoo Finance, Hoovers, or the EDGAR database ( of the Securities and Exchange Commission. If you call and get stuck in a phone tree try, which guides you through tricks of quickly navigating company phone trees.

Be fair. Take time to cool off and drain the emotion. You know physical fitness tests are being conducted this month.

Go practice then take a look at the situation and decide if the complaint is worth the effort and what it would take for the company to satisfy you. Give the company a chance to address the situation before taking it to the internet or Congress. If it’s a minor issue, consider complaining to the store manager. Running directly to a consumer advocacy group will delay resolution since they will have to take the steps you didn’t in contacting the company.

If it’s criminal activity, though, go straight to the police.

Be nice. This is the hardest lesson for me.

“You catch more flies with honey than vinegar,” the saying goes.

That means be firm, but not combative or abusive.

Yelling at a customer service rep won’t likely help. Raising your voice elicits the same response from the person on the other end of the phone.

Use kind words. Start the conversation with a gentle greeting instead of wanting to put your fist through the telephone wires and choke the rep.

Get organized. Clearly present your situation and have the necessary information such as dates and account numbers.

Make notes about your interactions with the company regarding the problem. Get the rep’s name and direct phone line in case you have to follow up. Make a note of the time and date.

If you complain a lot (like me), buy a dollar store journal and journal your communications. You may never realize how handy that comes. Write it out. If you have time, use email or a letter to write the company. This provides a paper trail that can be used later if the situation goes to arbitration. Be concise in your letter and don’t turn it into a missive that demands that someone get fired.

Have someone else read the letter for clarity prior to sending it.

and lastly....

Give the company your desired resolution—what do you want them to do?

These suggestions ought to give you some help in your dispute resolution as well as lower your blood Good luck.