Tips On When And How To File A Complaint

April 30, 2014

How do you know when to file a complaint? Is your complaint valid and can anything be done about the problem? These are all important questions when you are considering filing a complaint with the BBB and the answer depends on your specific problem.

A wise consumer avoids most problems by knowing with whom they are doing business, the company’s reputation and what your written guarantee or warranty covers. And don’t forget to save all contracts, sales receipts, canceled checks, owner’s manuals and warranty documents.

But if there is a problem, the first rule is don’t respond emotionally (this is easier said than done). Being emotional will only make the process more difficult and usually ends with poor results. If you are in an emotional state, postpone handling the situation to a later time.

The second rule is do your homework and plan your action. If your complaint involves a contract, warranty or guaranty, read all the fine print that came with it.

Know your rights. Those are usually outlined in your contract or bill of sale. Know what you want as a resolution to the problem. Be clear in all your communications with the company about what you want to happen and your expectations.

Talk to a service representative first before filing a complaint with the BBB: if you do not obtain the results you want, ask to speak to the manager or owner. Be reasonable and remember that “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

Being hard to deal with or rude only gives the company an opportunity to hang up on you or feel justified in its actions. Being nice usually makes this whole process easier. Ask the representative what they would do to resolve this problem.

Most companies want satisfied customers. Listen to the company’s side and possible resolutions; it could be better than what you are requesting.

If you are handling the situation on the phone, make certain to get names and direct phone numbers and/or email addresses, if possible. This will make the process easier should you have to call back. Leave detailed messages, including your hours of availability, and don’t forget to take good notes. Keep a log of all communications.

There are times to handle complaints on the phone and there are times to do so by email or regular mail. It is important to keep copies of all communications. If necessary, send the letters certified mail, return receipt requested.

This will cost more but it will give you proof that the letter was received and will tell you who signed for it. Contact your post office for more information.  In communications use deadlines and be reasonable, allow time for action.

If you believe you have given the company enough time to resolve the problem, file a complaint with your BBB at our web site here.

When BBB receives a complaint, we present the complaint to the business and request its assistance in resolving the problem. Most businesses are happy to work with us. Many are grateful for the opportunity to redeem a customer relationship, and BBB Accredited Businesses must respond to complaints or risk losing their accredited business status.

However, some businesses do not want to work together to resolve complaints. BBB is not a government or law enforcement agency and cannot force a reply from a business or administer sanctions.

A business’ unwillingness to respond will be noted in the business’ BBB Business Review, and the customer is free to pursue alternatives such as legal action.

BBB will act as a third party to help the consumer and business reach a satisfactory resolution of the problem. In many cases, dispute resolution and/or arbitration may be available on a local level to assist in resolving your dispute.