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Posted in You | September 2014

Be the squeaky wheel

customer service
As a kid you may have been told that it’s best to “be seen and not heard”, but when you’re a grown up, this isn’t always the best advice—especially when it comes to being your own customer service advocate when you want a discount, refund, better service or some sort of extra help.

Sometimes it’s simple to ask for what you want, but other times it requires a bit of finesse, gentle persistence and a little persuasion. One thing you always need is confidence in the fact that you deserve the kind of service you’re asking for.

The next time you’re faced with a stubborn customer service representative or a sticky situation that hasn’t been resolved to your satisfaction, remember these tips and suggestions:

  1. Just ask. If you want something—a discount, a rain check, an explanation for why your repair bill is so high—just ask. The answer is always no if you don’t ask.
  2. Hold your temper. You may be right, but getting angry and lashing out at the clerk or customer service rep you’re dealing with isn’t going to win you any favors. Be persistent, but always be polite. You can successfully escalate your complaint without getting angry, you simply need to be firm and persistent. Don’t take no for an answer.
  3. Write it out. If your situation is not resolved to your satisfaction, write a complaint letter or email outlining all the pertinent details. Again, hold your temper, but make sure to express your disappointment. A company may not particularly care if you’re angry, but they will care if they think there’s a chance that their actions have compromised your loyalty.1 They will also care if you take your story to social media, because bad news spreads much faster than good. If you’re really having trouble being taken seriously, tweet a complaint on Twitter, making sure to tag the company in your message. It’s amazing how quickly they’ll take notice when all of Twitter is watching. For complaint letter templates to help you clearly state your case, visit
  4. Be brief. Keep your letters, emails and phone calls short and to the point. A huge missive filled with lots of detail and emotion might be cathartic to write, and a long impassioned speech might feel great to give, but your chances of having someone really listen are greater when you are succinct and as brief as possible. If your complaint happens to be long and detailed by necessity, list each point in bullet form so they’re easier to see and read.
  5. Know exactly what you want to achieve. Is it a full refund? A partial refund? A replacement? A repair? Make sure you know what you will and will not accept as reparation before you start to negotiate.
  6. Be prepared. Have all the paperwork with you when you make your complaint—receipts, proof of purchase, paperwork, even photos if applicable. The more ammunition you have, the harder it will be to dismiss your complaint.
  7. Take down names. The more evidence you have, the better your case will be. Make sure to ask for the names and positions of anyone you speak with during the process just in case you need to refer to them in the future.
  8. Take it to the Better Business Bureau. If you’re not getting the satisfaction you need, consider contacting the BBB . They can act as a mediator on your behalf to help resolve disagreements between you and a business.

Remember, the customer service rep you’re dealing with has probably been where you are at some point in their lives—they understand your frustration and may not be the ones who actually caused the problem in the first place—so keep your cool, clearly state your case and be persistent.

For more information on how to be heard and have your complaints resolved, visit Life Hack and The Complaining Cow .


411450C CAN/US (04/15)

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