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The Reluctant Complainer – How to Learn the Art of Complaining (Nicely)

by Guest on May 11, 2011

I have never been a complainer. Just not the confrontational type. I saved money wherever I could, but rarely complained if a product or service didn’t meet expectations.

But, as I get older and the need to get value for each dollar grows, I’ve learned to effectively complain when I feel that my money hasn’t been well spent. I’m still not an in-your-face type of guy, but I’ve found that there are some easy-to-use tools to effectively complain without being confrontational.

Tell Your Story

You don’t have to actually talk face-to-face with someone to complain. Use the marvels of modern technology. Most products include a customer service phone number or web URL. Use them. Call and speak with the service rep or send an email to the company. Just tell your story. What you expected the product or service to do and why you felt short-changed. You might be surprised at what they offer you.

Keep Your Receipts

Use receipts and tags to your advantage. If you’re dealing with a price match guarantee simply presenting the competitor’s ad along with your receipt should be sufficient.

Take your time

If you try to handle it when you don’t have enough time you’ll feel extra pressure. When you complain time is your ally. The person hearing your complaint is uneasy and wants to end the conversation as soon as possible. The longer it takes the more likely they are to give in just to end the discussion. In this case, patience is definitely a virtue.

But don’t take too much time. If a restraurant meal isn’t right tell your server right away. Don’t wait until you’ve consumed half of it.

Too much time – part two. Don’t go on and on about the problem. State it as simply and directly as possible. Talking in circles will not help your case. In fact, the more you talk the weaker the argument sounds.

Know When to Stop Talking

Use silence to your advantage. State your case and then just be quiet. The silence is uncomfortable. Especially to the person who needs to find a solution for you. Let them be the one feeling pressure to break the silence.

Pick your Spots to Complain

As in, don’t complain in front of other customers unless that’s your specific intention. If you want your complaint to be received as non-confrontational, ask the manager if you can go into their office. Or suggest that you find a spot away from customer traffic. Most managers will respect your courtesy and be more willing to help you find a resolution to your problem.

Remember that Complaining Can Be Positive

Finally, remember that you’re really helping the company. They want happy customers. That’s where repeat business comes from. When you let them know about a problem you’ve given them a chance to do better for other customers. In effect, you’ve helped them improve their product or service and increased their chance for business success. Reminding them of that fact can’t hurt.

So don’t hesitate to complain if it’s called for. You can do it with courtesy and respect. Both you and the company will benefit when you step forward with an honest complaint.

This has been a guest post by Gary Foreman is the editor of The Dollar website and newsletters. Click here for more info on getting mail order refunds.

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