Complain To Win: 7 Stages Of Escalation

Your expectations were not met. Now you want them to fix the product, redo the service, or give you a credit. Here’s seven general stages of complaint escalation to follow.

1. Ladle on the honey.
Contact Customer Service and ask for what you want really nicely.

2. Focus on fixers.
Hone in on solutions to the problem, not how bad it makes you feel.

3. Cut to the chase.
Say, ‘I expect you or your manager to take ownership of this right now. I’m not going to be put on hold.”

4. Enlist a referee.
Volunteer mediators at places like Call For Action are like have an extra teammate. If your city supports it, 311 is a good place to start.

5. Bring in the big guns.
Complaint to the relevant licensing bureaus or the States Attorney.

6. Plead your own case.
Take it to small claims court.

7. File a civil lawsuit.
Find a lawyer versed in your type of case. Visit FindLegalHelp.org.

— BEN POPKEN

Satisfaction Guaranteed [Kiplinger’s via Free Money Finance]

Comments

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  1. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    You guys should work with Kotaku to turn this into one of those text adventure games!

  2. Ben Popken says:

    You don’t think we can write our own text-based adventure games? Puh-leese. I used to program those in QBASIC and on my TI-83.

  3. Hoss says:

    Ben — I wish you shouldnt say “I” — makes this site seem sooo small.

  4. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:


    In highschool pre-calc, everyone was given TI-83s. Shortly after, people realized they could use the programing feature to type in cheats for math tests. Once someone got a link cable, there was a routine of one person each week summarizing the chapter into their 83, then distributing the info to everyone in class right before the test. I prefered to actually code a program to preform the math functions. One week, this girl copied the wrong chapter into her 83, resulting in almost everyone failing that test.

  5. rekoil says:

    Uhh, 311 is the local police station’s non-emergency line…what kind of consumer dispute would rise to the level of requiring street-level law enforcement involvement?

  6. Hoss says:

    311 in NYC is a general services line — you can call and ask what agency handles consumer complaints, etc

  7. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    what kind of consumer dispute would rise to the level of requiring street-level law enforcement involvement?

    http://www.snopes.com/crime/cops/burger.asp

  8. Thain says:

    “3. Cut to the chase.
    Say, ‘I expect you or your manager to take ownership of this right now. I’m not going to be put on hold.'”

    I work tech support. During the weekend, when sales is closed, we occasionally get calls like this that are completely beyond our control, and completely beyond the control of anyone available at the time. Furthermore, if we are trying to help a real tech problem, we still have to put consumers on hold to communicate not only with company owners, but also with the OEMs that build the laptops.

    We are a tech farm. We offer support to companies with (non-tech) customer service ranging from excellent (and they still get complaints from customers who expect more than the warranty provides) to abysmal. If a customer declares they are not going to be put on hold, that is a surefire indicates that we are going to HAVE to put them on hold, because, like I said, we are a tech farm…we have no managerial authority, and we have to remotely call managers.

    For the most part, this is all excellent advice, but telling a customer to say “I’m not going to be put on hold” is horrible advice, and it will end up making the support representative more confrontational (and stressed) than he or she needs or wants to be. This doesn’t help consumer rights, it just degrades their service.

    Customers need to understand that being put on hold is not punishment, nor is it “failure to ‘take ownership’ of the problem.” Most of the time, it REALLY IS just the CSR trying to do his or her job and help the customer without having an awkward silence on the phone and/or without having to crane his or her neck to hold onto the phone while taking care of other details.

  9. I’ve had some success reporting the problem to the BBB as well when there is no satisfactory result from the appropriate middle manager type.

  10. 311 is a general city service number here in Denver as well.

  11. I have to agree with Thain about suggestion number 3. Most technical support IS outsourced and placing somebody on hold is completely necessary in order to give the supervisor or manager the relevant details.

    No supervisors or escalation technicians are going to take a cold call from a first-tier technician. The not being put on hold demand is slightly beyond what can reasonably be expected.

    It is true that demanding not to be put on hold will cause most tier-one support technicians to become less helpful and slightly more confrontational.

    I completely agree with rule number two “Hone in on solutions to the problem, not how bad it makes you feel.” Following this advice will get you a timely resolution. Complaining about how bad you feel only frustrates the technician and causes them to tune out. Remember, most of these support positions are filled by college students and younger people new to the workforce.

    Other than that, these suggestions are great advice for resolving an issue.

  12. Papa K says:

    Triple agreement with Thain. Demanding someone to take control isn’t always possible (especially with so much outsourceing).
    When I encountered problems with my Gas company (reported here!) I ended it by contacting the BBB and Public Utilities Commission. Following that, I’m currently filing complaints against travelocity with the BBB, and investigating options for my wife who was recently “released” from employment for being pregnant (she is and soon was, a paramedic)