It's that time of year again. The time when the Denver/Boulder Better Business Bureau and the Colorado Attorney General's office release their list's of top Colorado consumer complaints. Each year we anticipate this release and 2013 didn't disappoint. Those businesses that were "high" on the BBB's "radar" are the same suspects that we at the HelpCenter are all too familiar with; contractors, health product retailers and movers, to name a few.
New to the list in 2013 were scams and complaints related to our historic flood event and consumer frustration with the Affordable Care Act. In the next few weeks, we look forward to the release of the Top 2013 Consumer Complaints from Colorado Attorney General and fully anticipate their findings will support those from the Better Business Bureau and our HelpCenter. Consumers generally turn to theses types of agencies when they are unable to resolve their problem on their own.
In light of the these findings, we thought it would be an appropriate time to address the proper way to file a consumer complaint.
1) Notify the business. This is the most important step to take. The company cannot correct a problem if they are unaware it exists. Reach out to the company through the channel they prefer to receive complaints, for example via email, mail or phone. You may be asked to submit written documentation about the problem and be prepared to provide contact information such as name, phone and address.
It has been our experience that consumers become very upset if they are asked to invest time into resolving their own issue. This is understandable because time is precious, however it's completely reasonable for a company to ask you to document your complaint against them. Businesses are more than willing to rectify problems they are responsible for, provided they are aware of the issue.
2) Remain non-emotional. Consumers can be very emotional and when in this state tend to tangle their complaint up with everything bad happening in their life. This is not rational and will not help to resolve your problem. Businesses typically have an internal protocol to follow when a problem arises.
Generally, the information they request will assist in processing your claim. Speak only to the issue with the service or product and do not get into your personal life as it has no barring on the complaint and can actually delay the resolution.
3) Be specific. Don't be vague when describing your problem. You can't expect a company to rectify your situation if they are unable to grasp the problem. Be prepared to explain what happened and when. You may find it helpful to write out the entire complaint before notifying the company as this will help you be concise with what you are saying. If you speak to several individuals about your problem, write down the names, positions, dates and times of everyone you deal with.
4) Be patient. Depending on the size of the company you may not be able to resolve the problem on the first attempt and it could take several weeks or longer. You may also be asked or required to follow up at a later date. Be patient and do everything the company asks you to do to resolve the problem.
5) Be nice. Do not be a nasty to the person you are expecting to help you resolve your issue. Treat all individuals handling your problem with respect, using pleases and thank you's. Even if the person you are dealing with is not being professional, that is no reason for you to act in the same manor. This is just being a good human.
6) Be diligent. We understand it's irritating that your product or service didn't work as you intended but, to resolve your problem you will have to invest your time. Is the time it will take going to be worth it to you? That would depend on the value of the product or service.
Are you going to worry much about the fast food restaurant that forgot one of your items? Probably not. But, are you going to worry about a contractor who has installed a faulty product? This would probably be worth your time to do all follow-up and follow through to ensure your situation is resolved.
These are just a few of the tips we have compiled over the years of interacting with consumers and businesses. If you find this is not enough to resolve the situation yourself, there are other options you might consider; Consumer Protection Agencies like the Better Business Bureau & Colorado Attorney General, arbitration and mediation firms and small claims court, to name a few.
Visit Kelly's website, www.HaystackHelp.com and www.BuiltWithGratitude.com. Let's connect on Google+ and Facebook. Receive e-mail alerts when new articles are published. Just click on the "Subscribe" button above. Click here for more Denver Small Business News.