Effective Complaining

Being frugal does not mean that you want something for nothing, unless nothing is the best price that you can possibly get for a product or a service. By that, I mean that none of us wants to take things for free when payment should be made. The reverse side of that coin, however, is that none of us wants to pay for a product or service that we do not receive. When that happens, it is time to start complaining.

I am always reluctant to raise complaints. I hate to make waves, but I will if I am pushed far enough. When I had difficulty with my auto service center last month, I complained to the service manager and eventually got the service provider to pay for a car rental while it figured out what was wrong with my car, a process that eventually took ten days. When I was still dissatisfied with the service that I received, I complained to the parent company and eventually received two years worth of free maintenance for my car (grease, oil, tire rotations and lubrication).

It is not fun to complain, but sometimes that is what we have to do to ensure that we get the service that we expect. That said, there is a time and a place for logging a complaint. Here are the steps that I follow before I will complain.

Don’t Complain Over Minor Issues

You need to have a sense of perspective. If you complain about everything you will not get very far. Minor inconveniences are not worthy of complaint. A wait of extra 45 minutes when you are waiting to pick up a car is not out of the ordinary. By comparison, having to wait 45 minutes for your lunch to be delivered in a restaurant that promises a 10 minute delivery can be quite an inconvenience. You must have that perspective and apply it to your decisions to complain.

Know Why You are Complaining

You may be complaining because you are angry. If so, vent and move on. If you are complaining because you want something, know what you want and clearly communicate that to the person to whom you are complaining. If you do not want to pay for your lunch because it was brought to you after an unreasonable period of time, politely communicate that to your server or to a manager. No one can address your grievance if they do not know what you want.

Find the Right Person to Hear Your Grievance

A cashier in a store probably has no authority to address your complaint. Take the time to find the correct person to hear your complaint. If that means calling a district manager or a corporate headquarters, do so. Even then, find the right person who can actually take action.

Be Polite to Everyone

Even though you are angry, the people to whom you are complaining many times will have had anything to do with your dissatisfaction. Don’t take your frustration out on them personally, but do make it clear that you are angry with their organization and that you are not going away quietly.

Keep a Record of Your Problems

Keep a log of every problem that you have as it happens. That will help you to keep track of your facts when you are registering your complaint.

Know What Will Satisfy You

When I complained to my car’s manufacturer, the manufacturer initially offered me a year of free service. Then the representative handling my claim offered me a thousand dollar rebate on top of all of the other manufacturer incentives if I bought a new car (which I am not likely to do from that particular manufacturer). I rejected both offers and the fellow then offered me two years of service. I felt that two years of free maintenance was sufficient for me to feel I had been treated fairly, so I accepted the offer. Could I have gotten three years or more? I will never know. I got something that satisfied me and that was enough. It was time to move on.

Know Your Options

If your complaint is significant, consider speaking with an attorney or calling the Better Business Bureau. If you do your research before you register your complaint, you will be in a much better negotiating position.

What do you do when a service provider or store makes you angry enough to complain? How do you know when it is time to complain and how do you handle the process?

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One Response to Effective Complaining

  1. Colette says:

    Good advise!!
    Complaining is so often a knee-jerk reaction. I hate witnessing someone who is having a bad day abuse a clerk, waiter, or service provider who is TRYING TO HELP THEM. Being nasty is no motivator on the other side of the desk. You have to remain calm and in perspective.
    Once you bring an error to their attention, typically they will do everything in their power to correct it. If not, politely go up the chain.
    Businesses want your business (money) and will work hard to have repeat business (more money) from you.
    Always, always remember to thank them for their efforts as well. If they had to spend time tracking down and correcting an error…..they didn’t have such a great day either..

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