I have published a post recently that was full of advice, but perhaps vague advice. It is one thing to outline the solution to a hypothetical with a proposed solution. It is quite another thing to lay out a real world example.
I thought it was time to introduce a real life example of what I affectionately term, The Art of Complaining.
Alright let’s dive right in with the ground rules;
1. Art of Complaining: Don’t be Greedy/Cheap.
I sure there is a guy somewhere who eats his steak at the restaurant and then complains is to not done right and he is not going to pay. Don’t be that guy, nobody likes that guy. I am not talking about that kind of complaining.
I AM talking about the kind of complaining that needs to be done. This is the day and age of Yelp, and TripAdvisor, and Angie’s List. The consumer has the power. This is a fundamental shift. It used to be if you did not like how you were treated or the quality of the product, what? Maybe you tell a few friends, no REAL loss to the brand/business.
Nowadays, real economic loss is but a button away and business knows this. You have the power, just don’t abuse it like the steak guy from above.
2. Art of Complaining: Don’t be a DICK.
That person on the other end of the line, working customer service for $8.00/hour, is not the enemy. Keeping this in mind is crucial to a successful complaint. Squeaky wheels get the grease, dicks get transferred/hung up on.
You are frustrated, but the best results come with continuing in a calm, fact based manner.
3. Art of Complaining: Be Organized.
We live in an electronic world, own that. There is a box in my email called ‘housekeeping’. I shuffle relevant emails into it and do not delete them until an event has come and gone without issue. I write down the names of people I talk to right on the bill/receipt for the thing I am calling about.
If and When you need to summarize the history of your back and worth with a problem, having a timeline complete with dates & names makes you credible and implies that you are not to be messed with.
4. Art of Complaining: Be Tenacious.
There is a ton of bad customer service out there where the dominate theory is blow them off long enough and they will go away. DON’T GO AWAY.
Eventually you will go into the special category of people who aren’t going away. That is when you will finally get to talk to Mr. Man, who will proceed to fix your problem in 3 minutes.
OK without further delay let’s get into the issue.
I recently went to the Florida Panhandle for vacation. Stayed in a condo. Had a great time at the beach. Had an issue getting into the condo by 4 and it not being cleaned until almost 7. Called housekeeping.
Rule #1(Don’t be Greedy) All I really wanted was some feedback on when to expect this done by. They chose to not call me back even though they said they would.
Next day I emailed the company because they had an ‘in by 6’ guarantee and I just wanted to let them know that did not happen. No response. Later was told someone would get back to me within 48 hours. He didn’t.
Rule #2(Don’t be a Dick)The lady I spoke with the third day was not the person from my first 2 encounters. It was not her fault. Start from the top, let them know that the cleaning service did not do a very good job, just FYI.
After several people and more than few unanswered emails/phone calls. I stepped up my game. I went back through my emails and phone list and started laying out just how much time I had put into this unresolved issue. Complete with some pictures I took, because Rule #3(Be Organized).
5-6 people later and after 17 days of no real answers I got the call I had been half expecting. I was now the guy who would not go away(Rule #4(Be Tenacious)). I will be receiving a refund for a large chunk of my stay. Very sorry about all this.
Here is my last email, all spelled out for the manager who finally decided to get to the bottom of my fiasco;
I was not looking for a refund, I was looking for someone to be accountable for the lapse in customer service. A simply sorry early on would have stopped this train in its tracks, but they chose to let me slip through the cracks. As long as your cause is justified, you are doing a service to your fellow travelers.
The dollar amount was enough to cover my ‘Hacker fare*” to get to Orlando this fall. and that is how I am flying to FinCon18 for free.
P.S. * ‘Hacker fare” Provided you can book fast enough, many times booking 2 different one way fares on 2 airlines will be cheaper than any round trip on a single airline. This is related to the whole Credit Card Game.