How to get a solution to your consumer complaints

Resolving Online Consumer Complaints

by Dollar Stretcher Contributors

Resolving Online Consumer Complaints

I've had it with online stores that don't respect their customers. It's all good when you're placing an order, but if something goes wrong with the order, suddenly you don't exist. I bought some TV cables online and they delivered the wrong one. They don't answer emails. The phone number works if you're placing an order, but as soon as they switch you to the complaint line, you go on hold for the rest of your life! I'm tired of this! I've had this happen several times. I'm beginning to think that I should quit shopping online.

Use Social Media to Your Advantage

Most of the time, if you threaten to contact the BBB, they wake up. Or if you used a credit card to make the purchase, call your credit card company and see if they can help. My husband had a similar situation and he contacted the credit card company and they placed a stop payment on the money going to the company. That woke them up! Something else that I've done is if the company has a Facebook page, post on their page what happened and often times that will get them to wake up because they don't want the negative feedback on their Facebook page for all to see.
Laura (via Facebook)

Go Over Store's Head

If you can't complain to the store, go over the store's head and complain to the Better Business Bureau. On their website is an online form you can fill out. You will need to provide the name and location of the business, describe your problem, and explain what it would take to fix the problem for you. I have tried this with several different businesses, including stores that wouldn't honor a rebate offer and banks that charged inappropriate fees and never failed to get results.

If you are unable to resolve the complaint this way, you can try reporting the business to the FTC. This will not resolve your complaint (i.e., get your money back), but it may help stop the store from bilking others in future.

Call Credit Card Company about Online Consumer Complaints

I would talk to your credit card holder. It may be better to use a credit card instead of a debit card because there may be more protection built in. Many credit cards will either mediate the situation or credit your account. If they get too many complaints from a certain company, they will probably drop that company's ability to take the card. I shop online all the time, but only through well-known companies that I trust, even eBay offers some protection for consumers.

Keep Demands Brief, Clearly Stated, and Reasonable

First, check the reputation of the online vendor before you buy from them. Check the website of the national Better Business Bureau or just enter the business name and the word "complaints" in a search engine.

Since you now have problems, you do have options. First, send snail mail via certified mail with a return receipt outlining your complaint and what you expect from the company. In your letter, be sure to give a deadline for their response and the information that you will be filing complaints with the Better Business Bureau, the Attorney General's office of your state and the state where the company's headquarters are, and with the FTC if necessary. Mail your letter to the president or CEO of the company. It's often difficult to determine who that person is and what street address you need. Call the reference librarian at your local library and ask him/her to provide this information for you. It's what they are paid to do and they love doing it! Keep the receipt when it arrives.

If you still get no response, file complaints with those agencies I mentioned. The state's Attorney General should be quite responsive. Send copies of your letters to the company. There's no need to send via certified mail.

Await the suitable resolution of your case. Companies in the US hate to have to deal with the paperwork. Keep all of your receipts and keep your demands brief, clearly stated, and reasonable.
JD in St Louis

Get Action Fast!

I have had tremendously good success by contacting our state Attorney General's office and filing a complaint with them when online companies don't cooperate. I once signed up for a "free trial" service online, but then could not find anywhere on the site to stop it and was being billed for a subscription I did not want. I tried every link and I tried calling to no avail. I decided to file a complaint with the Attorney General's office, and suddenly they were responding to emails and very amazed that I had a complaint! The subscription went away, and the money was refunded.

You can find your Attorney General's address by Googling your state's name and "attorney general's office." Then call to see if they have a complaint form online. You will be amazed at how fast you get action!

Be Buyer Aware

Shopping online can be challenging because the seller could be anyone or anywhere. For the price of a web page, a "store" is created. For this reason, check carefully before making purchases because the lowest price may not be the best price. Customer service has a cost to the provider and that cost is reflected in the price. So when an online search returns a variety of sellers, check for reviews of the seller, and when in doubt, pick the most reputable. It is still "buyer beware," but it helps to be "buyer aware."

Take the Next Step:

  • For more on buying online, please visit here.

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