We’ve posted recently about how to fight back when a business screws you over, and we’ve posted a lot of executive contact info over the years. Now we’re packaging the two together into one big mega-post of usefulness: a one-stop-stop for figuring out what you need to do to start a customer complaint, or how to escalate a stalled one so that it can be resolved.
SECTION 1: “I’VE BEEN WRONGED! WHAT DO I DO NEXT?”
It’s broken. It’s been disconnected. It was charged eight times to your credit card. It never arrived. Whatever the problem is, here’s the Consumerist plan of attack.
Step 1: Get things ready
|1. Write down what went wrong. You don’t need an essay, but even a sentence will help you clarify your thoughts and give you something to refer to as you move forward.2. Write down what you will accept as a solution. List more than one thing; that is, first list what the company needs to do to fix what went wrong, but also try to come up with some alternatives that would appease you. These may help you later if you need to bargain with the company.3. On this same piece of paper or document, put down all the company contact information. Get them from your own paperwork, Google, or our site if we have them (and if you find some info we don’t have, feel free to forward it to us to add to our directory).|
We suggest you keep everything in one document, so that you’ll have a single location for all of your notes. If you’re keeping track of things on your computer, there are several ways you can timestampyour entries quickly to improve your documentation.
Step 2: Educate yourself
Once you’ve got the basic details written down, you’re ready to launch your attack. The best place to start is with the original Ultimate Consumerist Guide To Fighting Back (aka “that post with the shirtless guy”), which not only offers lots of links to useful tutorials, but organizes them into increasing levels of aggressiveness:
Step 3: Make the call
Escalating the issue without giving the company a chance to make it right through normal channels just makes you look like a tool, so start with the official customer service number first.
|Round 1: A Customer Service Representative
Round 2: A CSR Manager
Round 3: A Customer Service Executive
Round 4: Full Executive Email Blast
Remember that youcontrol the call. First of all, you should set the tone by politely but firmly stating that you don’t want to hear sales pitches. If you’re afraid of being rude, then explain that you’re on a cell phone and have to pay for extra minutes, or that you’re at work and have to make this call as short as possible. Give them a reason they can understand, and ask them to please just help you resolve your problem as quickly as possible. If you’re polite and friendly, the odds are better they will be too.
Then clearly and quickly explain your problem, and keep on topic and unemotional. (This is where your notes can really help you if you have trouble either being too meek or too confrontational.)
Think of the call this way: you are testing the CSR, and if he or she fails you, this round has ended and you don’t need to waste any more time with him or her. In other words, if the CSR tries to upsell you even after your introduction, FAIL, move to the next round. If the CSR gets uppity with you, FAIL, next round. Don’t waste any time trying to calm or reason with the CSR or get him or her to see your point of view.
If you have to take your issue past rounds 1 & 2 and start hitting the executive level, then the section below will help you find the necessary contact info.
SECTION 2: THE CONSUMERIST CORPORATE EXECUTIVE DIRECTORY
So you’ve tried the CSR route, you’ve made your complaint clear, and the problem wasn’t resolved. It’s time to adjust your strategy. When you try to contact the executive level of a company, you’ll almost certainly be intercepted by an assistant of some sort. But that’s actually a good thing, because these are usually people with the power to actually fix problems that normal CSRs and their managers aren’t authorized to touch.
Check out one reader’s story in the “Be a Customer Service Ninja” post for details—he advises, “Remember that you are dealing with busy people, so don’t bother rambling on about your problem, but rather try to give a succinct summary, including any identifying details that may be helpful (order numbers, confirmation numbers, etc.).”
Wily corporations change phone numbers all the time, so while we do our best to make sure this is accurate, it’s possible the number we have here won’t work. If you have a newer or better number for any of the companies listed below—or for companies that we don’t have listed yet—please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you don’t see the company you’re searching for above, try the following link:
“Search The Consumerist Directory Of Company Email Addresses And Phone Numbers”
And if it’s just not on our website, then here’s “How To Find An Executive’s Phone Number Or Email Address”
If all else fails, one reader suggests trying Jigsaw.com, which costs $25 per month for access to a member-submitted and updated pool of corporate names, numbers, and addresses.
“Find Your State Public Utilities Comission” Check out this link if you have complaints with any of the following: electricity, gas, telephone, cellphone, cable/dsl, towing, railroads, or movers.
If you enjoy playing detective, try searching the SEC’s EDGAR database for company contact information: EDGAR
SECTION 3: SUCCESS STORIES
Not every campaign to make the world a fairer place succeeds, but every once in a while there’s a consumer with the tenacity, confidence, and good fortune to keep pushing until things are fixed. Here are some of those stories, both to inspire you and to show you real-world examples of how you can fight back.
Since every situation is different, there’s no way we can know for sure if this is what you should do—so use your own common sense and don’t try to sue us, because this isn’t legal advice.
If you see an error or out-of-date listing, let us know at email@example.com.
[last updated: July 11, 2008]