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 wouldn’t work. “Oh, well. I guess I’ll just shell out the $400 and buy a new one,” she said. I told my mother that she shouldn’t have to pay because the manufacturer built a piece of junk, and 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! I immediately went to the manufacturer’s website to look for a phone number so that I could complain. I found something even better—a 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 you 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, they’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 it’s a legitimate reason, and you’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.