Many of us cringe at the thought of making the dreaded phone call to a customer service department if something we recently purchased is defective or breaks prematurely. Talking to a customer service representative can be a hassle– so much so that it’s tempting to try to avoid dealing with them altogether.
About two months ago, my mother called me, sounding very distressed. She told me that a television she bought just four months ago wouldnâ€™t work. â€śOh, well. I guess Iâ€™ll just shell out the $400 and buy a new one,â€ť she said. I told my mother that she shouldnâ€™t have to pay because the manufacturer built a piece of junk, andÂ I urged her to call the company and demand a new television. She called the next day, explained the problem, and requested a free replacement. The manufacturer agreed and offered to pick up the defective television for free. It was that simple.
I experienced a similar problem this past summer. I bought a small fan for my desk at work. When I turned the power on, a piece of plastic came flying out of the fan. Thankfully, the plastic didn’t hit me in the eye or blow into my throat or nose. I could have been seriously injured!Â I immediately went to the manufacturerâ€™s website to look for a phone number so that I could complain. I found something even betterâ€”aÂ chat feature on the company’s website. I logged on and was able to contact a representative immediately. Within five minutes, the representative agreed to mail a free replacement fan to my home.
Filing a complaint about a defective product is your right as a consumer. If youÂ ever find yourself needing to make that call, here are four tips for getting a quick resolution:
- Go to the source. Your first stop should be the manufacturer of the product, not the store where you made the purchase. If you complain to the store manager, theyâ€™ll most likely tell you to contact the manufacturer. Save yourself an additional step.
- Ask for what you want. If you want your television replaced, ask. If itâ€™s a legitimate reason, and youâ€™ve complained in a timely manner, the representative is likely to honor your request.
- Be prepared. Have the exact name of the product, the serial number, receipt, and any other information that can help resolve your complaint.
- Take your complaint to the next level. If your problem is not handled appropriately, log a formal complaint with the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Sheiresa Ngo is the multimedia content producer for consumer affairs at Black Enterprise.