Complaint Success

March 20, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The product breaks. The service you signed up for never delivers. The used car you bought is a lemon. People often don't know where they can take their complaint.Like many of us, Rosemary Lacolla gets mad when she gets overcharged, or something doesn't hold up like it should.

"I got roses at work and they died the next day. And I think they're supposed to live a little bit more than a day," says Lacolla.

Tony Giorgianni of Consumer Reports money adviser has developed a guide to successful complaining. He says the best place to start is with the company itself.

"That's where you're likely to get the fastest satisfaction. And if you can't get help from a supervisor, go right to the top," says Giorgianni.

How do you find the head honcho? Scour the firm's web site or annual report for the chairman, chief executive officer, and the like.

Let the company know that you want to resolve the problem, but you are also interested in remaining their customer. If you act angry or threatening, the company may not help because it already knows it lost you.

If your complaint doesn't get any action, Giorgianni says you have to go outside the company.

"The best place to start is with the local consumer protection agency often that's either a consumer protection department or the state attorney general."

Also try the Better Business Bureau. There you can file a complaint online.

As for Rosemary, her call to the florist got her another three dozen roses delivered the next day.

If all else fails, Consumer Reports says a sure way to have your complaint taken seriously is to file a lawsuit. Small-claims court is a good choice for cases involving under your state limit.


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