Have you recently been ripped off? Are you unhappy with the service you received while spending your hard earned money with a local or online merchant? Consumer angst has never been higher thanks to a preponderance of retailers, a tough economy and slack customer service. Though the internet has opened up new fields of buying and selling, it has also exposed millions of unsuspecting people to scams or just plain bad service.
There are many ways for consumers to fight back, but contacting the retailer or service provider directly is the first step that you should take. If still unsatisfied, you can take additional steps in order to resolve your dispute. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can get some satisfaction:
– If a product or company’s consumer affairs department information is known (check the package) call them up to register your complaint. Should you not get the help that you expect, then do a web search to find out the name and contact number for the company’s president. Contacting the president’s office can usually get you the results you want, though a secretary or other staff member will likely be the one who will work with you. In some cases you’ll be required to submit a written letter, sent out via US mail (return receipt requested too) in order to have your information reviewed.
Better Business Bureau (BBB)
– The BBB has been around for years and is recognized by many as the preeminent service for consumers to register complaints against companies. Unfortunately, the BBB is also funded by these same companies and many not always offer an impartial viewpoint on your case. Still, their online database is worth exploring when looking for complaints as well as checking out the reputation of a business. Moreover, you can always compare what the BBB says with online forums where other customers are quick to share their thoughts.
State Attorney General
– Your state’s attorney general (AG) may be interested in your case, especially if it points to a widespread problem. Your AG may want to know about the window installation company who isn’t backing up their job. Or, they could be looking for patterns of abuse especially against the elderly, minorities, the disabled, etc. Visit your state’s website to find the link to your AG. Learn what sort of cases your representative can help you with.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
– When should you contact the FTC? When your problem doesn’t involve needing them to resolve a personal complaint. The FTC won’t help you get a refund, but they do want to know about companies who steal your identity, businesses whose practices are illegal and other consumer complaints. As noted by this federal organization, the FTC enters all complaints it receives into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database that is used by thousands of civil and criminal law enforcement authorities worldwide.
– If you have a legitimate beef, especially one that is well documented, then you may want to consider taking your gripe to the media, especially via the social media. Print and televised media may be able to help you out, but if you’ve exhausted all other methods, then a few comments on Digg, Twitter and Facebook could catch the attention of the offending parties. Be professional and don’t accuse. Have all of your facts straight and you’ll likely be taken seriously.
If you’ve been ripped off, taking the appropriate action can go a long way to resolving your dispute. Be persistent, polite and above all professional and you’re more likely to see positive results.
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