Have It Your Way… - Page 2 of 3

Have It Your Way…

dollars when, in fact, it dramatically impacts the bottom line. So, consumers are the ones who suffer the most when the ax comes down on spending.”

There are, however, many companies in the service industry that understand how important consumers are in the profit equation. Experts estimate that most North American companies spend about 3% of their revenue on measuring customer satisfaction, which includes greeting, purchase assistance, waiting time, courtesy, product knowledge, appearance, and job performance. Mystery shoppers are often employed to examine the one-on-one interaction between customers and employees, noting areas of success and areas that need improvement.

PlanetFeedback ranks the best and worst companies according to the complaints they receive online. Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corp, Tracfone Wireless Inc., and Chick-fil-A Inc., are among those on PlanetFeedback’s A list. Ramada, U-Haul, and AT&T Broadband/Local Telephone are among those on the site’s worst list.

Don’t depend exclusively on your memory. Take notes. Write down the time, date, name of the person who performed the service, and any other pertinent information you can think of. This provides you with a documented record of events.

Give it time. Some problems may not be resolved overnight. Some companies may have to investigate a situation to verify the legitimacy of the complaint. It took six months and several letters between Terence Williams, currently a student at West Virginia University, and TWA before he was reimbursed for the clothing he purchased for a seven-day cruise that was lost when his luggage didn’t arrive in Miami where he was scheduled to transfer to the ship.

Write an effective letter. Let the company know if you’ve suffered any special inconvenience or monetary losses, and estimate the amount of those losses. Tell the company how you expect it to compensate you for your inconveniences, such as a monetary settlement or a letter of apology. Be reasonable with your demands. Send your letter via a service that will give you a delivery receipt, so you can keep track of who received it and when.

Take it public. Websites have become an increasingly popular complaint forum for companies and independent advocacy groups, as well as disgruntled customers. Consider logging your gripe with Websites such as PlanetFeedback.com, eComplaints.org, or NorthWorstAir.org. Some sites will construct an appropriate business letter for you to edit to your liking. PlanetFeedback will send your letter to the best contact at the companies listed in their database by e-mail, fax, or snail mail. You can also register to monitor the feedback and resolution from the company you filed the complaint against.

Take it to a higher authority. If a problem has not been addressed to your satisfaction, file a complaint with your state or local consumer protection office, the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb .org), or the regulatory agency that has jurisdiction over that particular business, for example, banking, insurance, and utilities commissions. Formal complaints against airlines with the Department of Transportation (DOT) should be sent to the Aviation Consumer Protection Division, U.S. Department of Transportation, Room