Got a Gripe? Write it right!

I wish I could post a few of the letters I’ve received from disgruntled consumers.  Some are barely legible, up to 10 pages long…  and when I’ve finally deciphered what the writer’s problem is, the letter ends.. with NO contact information! Just a “I hope you have the decency to respond to this letter.” 

Well, guess what? I’m not a psychic.  And neither are the companies that receive your complaints. That’s why I think a lesson on “How to complain & Get results” is in order.

  • First- keep it simple.  You have probably been living with the broken TV or leaky faucet for months or weeks, but I don’t need a minute by minute account of your experience. What I do need are important facts, like dates- when did you first notice the leak? When did you first call the office to complain? Please give me the names of the people you have already spoken to about this problem. You should try to keep your letter to 1 page (and you can’t use 8 point font!).
  • What do you want? It’s important that you tell the company. They don’t know; and they’re more likely to give you what you want if you tell them. And be reasonsble. For example, I did a story once with a bride whose 3-tier wedding cake was leaning.  She was disappointed, but she admitted the cake was delicious.  After the honeymoon, the bride wrote the bakery and told them how upset she was.  The bakery offered her gift certificates to their restaurant/ bakery for 25% of the value of the cake (about $200). The bride balked at the offer- but she hadn’t herself suggested anything that would make her happy.
  • When do you want it? Don’t leave conversations open-ended.  You can simply write “I’ll expect a refund by Wednesday.”
  • Phone calls are no substitute for a good letter. The phone is always a good place to start your very first call- just to get an idea of how easy or difficult your battle with a business will be; but you really should put it in writing, date it, address it to someone who has the authority to make decisions and always keep a copy.

Now you can get to griping!

 

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