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‘The customer is no longer king’

A consumer’s guide to complaints

Created date

December 20th, 2011

The customer is always right used to be the mantra of every successful business. When a consumer was dissatisfied with a service or a product, a simple phone call or letter to the company in question would usually suffice. Reputable companies, determined to win customers allegiance for life, often bent over backward to keep loyal customers happy. But times have changed and as Linda Sherry, spokesperson for Consumer Action, says, In today s world, the customer is no longer king. Today, effective complaining takes some strategy which is why Consumer Action has put together a guide called How to Complain. Since 1971, the nonprofit organization has championed the rights of underrepresented consumers on matters related to banking, credit, insurance, utilities, and privacy issues. Consumer Action s guide is available for free at comsumer-action.org. How to Complain offers easy-to-understand tips, including a very useful sample complaint letter and a sample complaint email. Sherry advises consumers to start with a reasonable complaint and have a reasonable expectation of how the company can make things right. People really need to ask themselves if going through the process of filing a complaint is worth it, she says. And you should know what you want to get out of the complaint before contacting the company. Most companies want to help, but often they don t know what the consumer expects from them. If, despite your best efforts to complain, a company still refuses to make the situation right, you have the option of making your complaint public. Numerous websites exist purely to allow people to vent their frustrations with bad companies and heap praise on good ones. Not so long ago, you had few options for expressing your dissatisfaction with a product or service, says Noreen Perrotta, editor of Consumer Reports Money Adviser. Today, there are so many places to complain online, so consumers have alternatives to waiting on hold for a customer service representative. Many of these sites are targeted to a particular type of complaint such as TripAdvisor.com, which focuses on hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions. Other sites, like Yelp.com, target certain cities or regions of the country. Companies pay attention to complaints posted on these sites and have been known to contact consumers directly to address their complaints and get bad reviews changed to good ones. If you use these sites, remember to keep your comments clear, concise, and truthful. Venting your anger online might help you feel better in the short term, but beware, Consumer Reports says there have been a few cases of businesses suing people over extreme or harsh Internet posts. michele.harris@erickson.com

Customer complaint guide Website ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' Type of reviews AirlineComplaints.org ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' Airline-related complaints or suggestions for ' improvements. Amazon.com ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' Reviews and ratings of products and Amazon ' merchants. Angie s List ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' Reviews and ratings of local services. ComplaintsBoard.com ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' Complaints about products, services, companies,and professionals. The Consumerist ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' Reviews and complaints about products, services, ' and companies. Includes news and consumer tips. Epinions.com ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' Ratings and reviews of products and services. RateMDs.com ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' Reviews and ratings of doctors and dentists. ' Includes access to medical board records and top ' ten lists. TripAdvisor.com ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' More than 45 million reviews and ratings of ' hotels, restaurants, attractions, vacation rentals, ' cities and towns, and more. Yelp.com ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' Reviews and ratings of local companies and ' professionals.

Source: Consumer Reports Money Advisor August 2011

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