One of the main reasons that lawsuits start–or that people give up once they have been screwed–is lack of good negotiating skills. This isn’t always the case, of course. Some corporations, landlords, customer service representatives, etc., are simply intractable. If you negotiate well, you may just get what you want. But even if you don’t, you will set yourself up to take the situation to the next level.
• Make sure you are talking to someone who can give you what you want. If you aren’t, talk to that person.
• Be up-front about what you want. If it will take a free month of phone service and a refund on your phone to make you happy, ask for that. However, be prepared to justify your request, and don’t get greedy.
• Stay cool. You lose credibility and shut down the other person when you start yelling. Hang up the phone instead and try again later, with another person, if possible.
• Confirm your understanding of any agreement in writing. Leave a paper trail. Recordings may also work.
• Be understanding. Try to understand where the other person is coming from.
• NEVER EVER MAKE EMPTY THREATS. Don’t threaten a lawsuit if you don’t intend to follow through (or know if you can). In fact, threatening a lawsuit is rarely effective, anyway. If you are at that point, just sue and pick up negotiations with their lawyer.
• Corollary to the above, don’t make ineffective threats. Unfortunately, calling your state’s attorney general will rarely help anything, and companies know this. Same goes for reporting them to the FTC or the BBB. Do these things, by all means, but don’t use them as threats, because it probably won’t help.
What has worked for you? — SAM GLOVER