Well, that would be me. Complaining, it seems, is as much a part of my DNA as my eye color and my shoe size. My mom would say that I was "getting my dander up," but truthfully, all my complaining only resulted in pinker cheeks and a rapid heartbeat. I complained about everything, but my pet peeve was what I called "consumer injustices." That basically amounted to purchases I wasn't happy with because they weren't up to my standards.
The problem was, even five years ago, if I bought something from the store for a couple of dollars and got it home and it didn't work, I'd complain and toss the offending article into the garbage can. It was hardly worth my energy to do more. But, now, struggling to make ends meet, if I buy something that doesn't live up to expectations, it's more than just an annoyance, it's a monetary disaster. We really can't afford to buy a replacement.
Finances being what they are, I knew that I needed to learn how to complain the right way. The learning process started out of necessity; I complained about something to my husband who listened politely and then responded, "So, why are you telling me?" And it dawned on me: He's right! Why was I telling him? He couldn't fix my problem. But I knew who could. Right on the package of whatever annoyance was annoying me was a customer service hotline number, and I called it.
I called for various reasons - not the right amount in the box, defective, didn't work the way I expected - because it just didn't meet my expectation. Given the preciousness of my money, it was now worth it to me to complain. In general, I have been "made whole" and happy when I did call customer service. But there are occasions when my complaint fell on deaf ears, in which case I had to kick my complaining up a notch.
Given my experience, the first escalation has to be with the supervisor or the manager of the customer service hotline. They may have discretion that a regular customer service representative will not. Politely state your problem with their product, and ask what they can do to make you a happy camper. If you're complaining about a product that you regularly use, mention that - they want to hear why you love their product, as much as why you're now unhappy.
If you are not satisfied or your issues have not been completely addressed, write a letter - not an email - an actual paper and envelope type of letter to the appropriate official at the institution. You want to write to the big guy of the company, whether it is the president or the CEO, and tell him your issue with his product. If he's a chief executive worth his salt, he will "own" your problem and see to its resolution. Give it a reasonable amount of time, but if you aren't satisfied, send another letter, this time with a cc to the local Better Business Bureau (or state attorney general, etc.).
To write a letter of complaint that will get noticed (and resolved to your satisfaction) check out www.planetfeedback.com. They can guide you through the process and even point out the correct person to send your letter to.
On the flip side of complaining, if you're happy with a product or service, call that same customer service number and let them know about it. I've found that my non-complaint phone call or letter can generate just as many coupons and freebies. It does pay to be a loyal customer.
The bottom line is that you should not just accept inadequacy, inefficiency, or ineffectiveness whether in a product or in a service. If your complaint is legitimate, then make your voice heard, loud and clear.
We, at DebtStoppers, want you to know that you don't have to settle for what you've got. No doubt, you don't need reminding how difficult it is to make ends meet. But we do want to remind you, that if you're in a precarious financial position, you don't have to accept that either. DebtStoppers is here to help, and we're a mere phone call or mouse click away. When you're already squeezing every cent until it screams, you can't give up with a whimper.