Complaining Without Being Rude: How to Stand Up for Your Consumer Rights

There’s a common commentary on modern life that accuses our generation of being cursed with a sense of entitlement – and it’s not entirely wrong. The truth of the situation, however, is more nuanced than that.

The following article is a guest post.

Yes, we live in an age of entitlement, and it’s not always pretty or justified. But in many cases, it’s tied to a sense of fairness and of lost humanity. Our corporate landscape is run on such cold and ultra-rational terms that it can be easy to feel that you don’t have a voice when you’ve been wronged on the high street or online – and it’s not surprising, when many of those who do stand up for themselves do so to no avail: 89% of us have moved on to a different company after a customer service nightmare, while 289 million social media complaints go unanswered every year.

But the problem isn’t the complaint: it’s how people are complaining.

And the first thing to do is to shed that vague feeling of entitlement, and get down to the brass tacks of your rights – and how they’ve been wronged.

So begin by making sure you do in fact have a case, and that you’re not just feeling red-faced because you’ve made a mistake.

Take a breath, and think about how the case looks from the company’s perspective. Then start compiling evidence and putting together your argument. The important thing is to know the ideal outcome you want, and the level of compromise you’re prepared to accept – otherwise, you’re just letting off hot air.

Next, target your complaint. Find the right person, in the right department, and the preferred mode of contact.

You’ll be talking to various other people along the way. So make sure to take their names and keep a record of the calls you’ve made, the time you made them, and how long you were kept waiting. If the first person you talk to can’t or won’t help you, ask to speak to a supervisor. If necessary, this pattern can continue to the top.

But that’s not to say you should go in all guns blazing. You are likely to a get a more favorable outcome if you are friendly and reasonable.

Most of the people you speak to will be getting paid by the hour. They just want to process things as smoothly as possible and get on with their lives. They’re probably not to blame for whatever you’re complaining about. But they can make things more difficult for you if you don’t treat them with respect.

Making a rational yet human approach like this should help you get results. But if you find you’re banging your head against a wall, you might want to try some of the next-level ideas in this new visual guide to complaining, from NetCredit.

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