Hold Their Feet to the Fire

Hold feet to fireAccording to marketing studies, people tend not to report small complaints about products to manufacturers or distributors. Perhaps they lack confidence in their ability to protest amicably or believe their opinions don’t count. Writers, however, possess the skill to express themselves clearly. Use that talent and most businesses will reward your efforts.

Why? When businesses know what pleases you, it helps them target new business. They also like to know what displeases you. Evidently,  for each person who takes time to contact a company with regard to a product, 250 have thought about it, but failed to follow through. Your comments represent approximately 250 customers who remained silent.  No wonder companies value your opinions, even the critical ones.

When a purchase fails to meet your expectations, contact the manufacturer or seller. Remember, you are speaking or writing on behalf of 250 reasonable customers who want to register an effective complaint. Do it in four simple steps.

1. Establish rapport. Start with something positive.

“The train set our family, friends, and my school chums enjoyed well into our teenage years still occupies a room in my parent’s basement. Over the years, we purchased most of the cars and rail scene accessories from your company. We have hundreds of pieces that still look new. My sister attributes her interest and subsequent career in architecture to the buildings we constructed from your model kits.”

2. Then move into your complaint.complaints sign

“Following family tradition, Santa assembled a starter set for our son. Can you imagine our disappointment in the coal car’s wheels being out of alignment? Also, once in motion, the train’s shipping containers continuously fall from their platform when the car runs over a rail joint.”

3. Add details, but avoid emotional comments, such as your frustration with the product or how a malfunction made a child cry. Keep it brief.

“I have included three attachments to this email. One is a photograph showing the toppled shipping containers. Another is the receipt showing payment for the set. The third is a news video made at my sister’s graduation celebration. Our local TV station KJPT gave me permission to send a copy of it. Note that the trains, pulling cars decades old, run smoothly on tracks that wind up mountain ridges, through tunnels, and crisscross in the train yard and at junctions between two towns.”

4. Now invite a response with a question or simply a pause.

“Your company,  with its proud tradition of producing quality products, surely would not want my son to begin his train collection with a defective set. What procedure should I follow with regard to my returning the set for a refund?”

5. At this point, the conversation can move in several directions. If your complaint involves a low dollar product, such as groceries, dining out, or cosmetics, expect to receive a gift card or generous coupons.

satisfied customerBe prepared. The higher the dollar amount, the more a company is apt to balk at so much as an acknowledgment that their product is in any way faulty. Be polite and professional, but stand your ground. You may have to take your complaint to a small claims court.

How many dollars do you waste annually on products that disappoint? How do you typically handle the issue? Panhandle Professional Writers can help you write effectively, and you win in the long run.

Bernice Simpson


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