Friday, May 14, 2010

Complaining with purpose makes good financial sense

Our 5-year-old is funny and bright, generous and compassionate, but she also tends to be a complainer. Her socks are too loose. Her hangnail is keeping her awake. She doesn’t want to eat a sandwich for lunch two days in a row.

As her parents, we want to teach her that if she is going to complain, she should do so with purpose. We often remind her that she will get the best results when she can clearly explain the problem and suggest a solution. It sounds simple, but it takes hard work and consistency to parent this way.

Complaining with purpose isn’t always easy in my own life, either. Sometimes, this is because I’m complacent, or I don’t want to take the time to do it. Or maybe I just don’t feel like rocking the proverbial boat. The fact is, though, that complaining with purpose often makes good financial sense.

Recently, when a handle broke on a nearly-new enamel teapot, I e-mailed the company to explain the situation and ask for a replacement part. Within a day of my inquiry, I got a response from the customer service department informing me that the company did not have handle replacements. Nevertheless, if I would provide proof of purchase, the company would replace my teapot at no cost to me.

This experience taught me I shouldn’t assume I’m stuck when a product doesn’t live up to my expectations. I didn’t have to invest very much time, and I ended up getting a brand new tea kettle that would have cost $30 in a retail store.

Of course, these types of situations don’t always end so easily or favorably. When my computer started browsing painfully slowly, I contacted my Internet service provider to troubleshoot the problem. I spent hours on the phone running speed tests and adjusting settings, only to get routed to advanced technical support, where I was instructed to run still more tests.

This went on for weeks. Eventually, technical support services determined that I needed a new router, which would arrive in three to five business days. When it didn’t arrive as promised, I called the company again, only to be told that the router I needed was on back order. The representative assured me that the company would ship the router as soon as it was available.

At this point, I’d grown so frustrated that I reluctantly asked to speak to a supervisor. I recounted my story and asked the supervisor to credit me one month of service and to overnight a router as soon as it was available. After reviewing my account, he agreed to call me every two days until the situation was resolved. He called me when he said he would, and the modem arrived within three days of our conversation.

Complaining with purpose, especially when done with tact, helps you get results and can save you money. If you have a problem, take the time to contact the company and explain the issue in as much detail as possible. Suggest specific ways the company can fix the problem, but be willing to accept an alternative, too.

You won’t always find a perfect resolution to your problem, and you will need to decide how much time a situation warrants. It may not be worth your time to complain about a sleeve of mini donuts (It was to my husband, who got a coupon in the mail for another sleeve of said mini donuts), but getting a broken appliance fixed or a part replaced can leave you with much-needed extra cash in your wallet. And that’s something you won’t complain about.

CCCS/ACCE –American Center for Credit Education
Carey Denman

No comments:

Post a Comment