Ben Popken's Consumer Satisfaction Reader's Digest Article Online

My Reader’s Digest article on getting consumer satisfaction is up online. It’s chock-full of tips for being a savvy consumer, illustrated with real world success stories you first read on this site, stories like Mona “Hammer Granny” Shaw, Lona “I have a situation that you are going to fix for me today” Nicholle, Anne “Give me a reason to stick around” Braswell, and the little old lady WaMu hit with 20 overdraft fees. I break down techniques like Town Crier, Executive Email Carpet Bomb, Threaten to cancel, Dictate the Options, and Calling the Executive Suite as escalated customer service problem solving options when traditional methods fail. Check it out!

Satisfaction Guaranteed: The guerrilla guide to getting what you paid for (without getting arrested) [Reader’s Digest]


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  1. missdona says:

    Boo. I’m getting ye-olde-404.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Link doesn’t seem to work..

  3. “Consumerist promises helpful article, gives you dead link instead.”

  4. Toof_75_75 says:

    Link = Broken

  5. Eric1285 says:
  6. FreemanB says:

    Looks like it translated “–” into one long dash in the original link. The link above should work.

  7. A.W.E.S.O.M.-O says:

    Southwest may have been a 2008 “Customer Service Champ,” but where did they place in the 2008 Inspecting Your Planes survey?

  8. zentex says:

    @The Count of Monte Fisto: perhaps we should launch an EECB? starting off with the line “I have a situation that you are going to fix for me today” and ending with “Give me a reason to stick around”?


  9. AD8BC says:

    Great job in the article, Ben, I read it as soon as the issue came out.

  10. Ben Popken says:

    Link fixed!

  11. Buran says:

    Incessantly reloads over and over. Still can’t read it because it keeps vanishing and reappearing in the window.

  12. Ben Popken says:

    @Buran: Try going to and typing Ben Popken in the searchbox.

  13. Imafish says:

    I found it here.

  14. RvLeshrac says:

    @Ben Popken:

    I have an issue with:

    “ONE EXAMPLE: Lona Nicholle has a reputation as a customer-service avenger, so friends and family are always asking her for help. Like the time her sister-in-law’s new computer went kaput. She had to reinstall the operating system but realized she’d never received the disc. She went back to Best Buy; they wanted to charge her $100 to load the missing software onto her computer. …”

    While the $100 pricetag is a bit TOO steep, the consumer is responsible for creating recovery discs on most prebuilt PCs. I don’t agree with that practice, but it is there – and prebuilt systems always, always, always either come with a notice telling you that you need to create recovery discs or nag you at every boot with a “Create Your Recovery Discs – Click Here!” message.

    The resolution was FAR MORE than fair for the customer here. The customer was asking for something they were never entitled to in the first place, and they got it.

    The customer is certainly always entitled to the product and/or service they’ve purchased, but demanding additional products/services for free is simply an example of being a bad consumer.

    Now, on the other hand, if the machine fails to properly create the recovery discs or does not include the ability to create them, this would be a satisfactory resolution.

    Keep in mind that there are many, many problems like this that crop up every day, and many, many customers that demand free services simply because they failed to read. This is precisely WHY the charge was $100 – the company has to make up the lost money somewhere (of course, Best Buy, cheating lying scumbags anyway, etc etc etc, but you also have to consider smaller local computer sales businesses and smaller chains).

    To summarize:
    -Encouraging consumers to stand up for their rights as consumers to receive the goods for which they’ve pad? Good.

    -Encouraging consumers to demand free products and services not because they’ve been wronged or shortchanged, but because they simply want something for nothing? Bad.

  15. Not enough branding… It should read:
    “It’s chock-full of tips for being a savvy Consumerist…”

  16. Imafish says:

    “I have an issue with…”

    Agreed, but I still remember the good old days when you got a real/full/compete copy of Windows with every computer you bought. Then you got those crippled recovery discs. Then you didn’t get a recovery disc but it was included on a partition to your HD. Now you have to make them yourself.

    The computer industry takes a lot of pleasure in making their products increasingly difficult to use.

  17. StevieD says:


    Thank you. Well said.

  18. Ben Popken says:

    @RvLeshrac: I understand your viewpoint and yes, every computer owner should make a recovery disc. But that’s moot. The manager agreed to give the sister the disc for free. Then he tried to charge her when she showed up. Lona and her sister just asked him to honor the original deal. How is that being a bad consumer?

  19. Buran says:

    @Ben Popken: Oh, I’ve got the story, It just won’t stop reloading endlessly. Annoying… needs a smack.

  20. Roundonbothends says:

    Congratulations, Ben. Already read the print version. Great article and a good feather in your cap. Who knows how far you will go? (Atlanta has already named a ROAD after consumer advocate Clark Howell.)

  21. MayorBee says:

    Sorry, RD is a vehemently anti-gay publication. I would have read the article had it been published almost anywhere else.

  22. mac-phisto says:

    @Roundonbothends: are you kidding? ben already has a road in fort worth, tx -> []

    home of the company that birthed the very concept of customer service with such resounding pro-consumer messages as “customers first” & “you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers”. that’s right. radioshack.

    *cough* ok, you can all stop laughing now.

  23. scoosdad says:

    Being a good consumer is stopping Readers Digest from auto-renewing my subscription at a cost of about $35 a year recently, letting it expire, then going back in and signing up as a new subscriber for a two year subscription for only $9 a year. And no, I didn’t have to alter either my name or address to do it.

    @MayorBee: How do you figure that? It’s definitely pro-family and all, but I’ve never detected an anti-gay agenda in their editorial content.

  24. RokMartian says:

    Umm, the consumer advocate is Clark Howard not Howell.

  25. Spooty says:

    @MayorBee: I’d never heard that before, and couldn’t Google anything up about it. Have any references for that?