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Friday, February 27, 2009

Do Not Just Complain: Complain Effectively

By Ed Greene

Few people like to complain. And that's certainly understandable.

But, when you or someone in your family has been seriously wronged, what choice do you have?

If your automobile is a lemon, if your oven won't heat up, if a mechanic rips you off, or if there is a torn seam in your new $400 blazer, you can't just smile and pretend nothing is wrong. Unfortunately, complaints seldom get results.

There is an easy explanation for why that is the case. Most people do not know how to complain effectively. To get results...to be an effective complainer...here is what you need to know.

1. If your sole motivation for complaining is to "blow off steam", call a talk radio station instead. If you have another goal...like getting fair treatment...that's the time to complain.

2. Let the other party make you an offer before you propose a solution. You may get more than you you would have asked for. It happens.

3. Do not talk down to anyone and do not use insulting or profane language. Good manners and civility are far more likely to get you results.

4. If the person with whom you are speaking does not have the authority to resolve your problem as you wish, ask to speak with the person who can. Be sure to do it politely, not dismissively.

5. Do you hope to do more business with the company in question? Have you been satisfied with their efforts in the past? If so, make that clear.

6. Nobody likes intimidation or ultimatums; avoid both. And, avoid words like "demand", "insist", and "immediately".

7. Do not give up if the first person to whom you speak will not give you what you want. Go at least two more steps up the ladder before you give up.

8. Generally, it is counterproductive to threaten legal action or the intervention of a consumer protection agency. Try it if you think it may help, but only as a last resort, because it tends to be a conversation ender.

Do these suggestions really work? The simple answer is yes. They have helped me receive improved insurance settlements, free flights, free hotel rooms, a discount automobile rental, complimentary meals, product exchanges, and more. You can do the same.

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