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Consumers have power and should use it

Posted by Mitch Lipka  July 9, 2013 11:05 PM

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Reaction to last week’s thoughts about customer service drew a lot of response: some positive, some not so much.

It’s hard to cover every circumstance of dealing with customer service in 400 words, and I wasn’t trying to be all-encompassing.

So, I’ll acknowledge some comments and add to the main concept -- that consumers should speak with their money when they’re unhappy with the service they’re getting.

Yes, it can be more complicated when the service is provided by a city, town, or state agency – or the dreaded cable company. And, yes, if you paid for a service that was substandard, you should try to get your money back. Unless you’re completely offended, you should allow the business a chance to make things right before you walk away.

And, if they’ve truly failed you, there’s so much more…

Complain to the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, the Attorney General, the Better Business Bureau, or any agency that regulates the business. Of course, there’s social media. Some companies are quick to react to criticism posted to Facebook or tweeted on Twitter – and you’ve publicly shared your displeasure.

Still, a very effective -- and satisfying -- way to demonstrate your unhappiness with a business is to take your money elsewhere. Cable TV companies and their local monopolies drew the ire of many readers, who saw few options other than to put up with poor service and other indignities.

But there are alternatives, including satellite services, fiber optic (where available), plus streaming services such as Google TV. Cable doesn’t own you.

Most companies eventually react when they see their customers fleeing.

Complain when there’s something to complain about. Suggest a solution if there’s one you want – whether a refund, an apology, or something else. Consider your alternatives and be prepared to pick up and go if you have a better option.

Send the message to the business – no matter what the size – that you shouldn’t be taken for granted. Of course, there are always other tacks to take and creative ways to deal with certain situations. There is no one-size-fits-all answer.

Bottom line: It’s your money that you’re spending, so make sure you get what you’re paying for.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Mitch Lipka is one of America's leading consumer journalists and advocates. He is an expert in product safety, recalls, scams, and helping consumers get out of jams. He is a nationally known consumer columnist and runs TheConsumerChronicle.com. He lives in Worcester. You can find him on Facebook or reach him at ConsumerNews@Aol.com

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