April 24, 2012

How to best resolve a consumer complaint

As a consumer if you are ready to gripe, be sure to gripe to the right person with a well thought out complaint. Be realistic in your expectations and don't shoot for the stars, but certainly stand your ground.

The Better Business Bureau of Charlotte offers these tips:

- Review your contract or work order to make sure you understand the terms and conditions as well as specific details of your purchase.

- Document the areas where the contracted product or service was not delivered or did not meet your expectations. Take pictures, if applicable.

- Don't wait too long. If you have problems with a product, a job or a service, be sure to contact the company as soon as your issue arises.

- Contact the manager or owner to discuss your concerns and ask for a specific resolution, follow up in writing, if necessary.

- If the manager or owner will not resolve your issue, try going up the corporate ladder to a senior manager, executive resolution specialist, or franchise owner. Cite specific examples of where the business did not fulfill their agreement and state the specific resolution that you are seeking.

- If you paid by credit card, you should contact your credit card company to find out what buyer protections you have. The credit card company will investigate and may reverse the charge if you have a valid dispute.

- If your issue is still not resolved, file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. All complaints must be first party complaints and be in writing. Complaints can be filed online at www.bbb.org.

- Depending on the nature of your complaint, you may want to file a complaint with other agencies such as the police department, the Attorney General's office, the Banking Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission or the state licensing board.
Depending on the amount of your dispute, you may want to file a lawsuit in small claims court. However, if you win a judgment, you could have trouble collecting the money in dispute.

- In lieu of filing a lawsuit, you can request to have your dispute settled through third party arbitration. The decision of the arbitrator is binding. If the case is not decided in your favor, you will have no recourse to continue pursuing your dispute.

- Make a settlement offer to the company. If you are willing to settle for a smaller amount, the company may be more inclined to settle your dispute.

www.wcnc.com

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