Getting what you want: How to be a pro complainer

By Eryka Washington , Consumer Reporter, Fill-in anchor, ewashington@wkmg.com
Published On: Feb 10 2014 10:55:01 PM EST
Updated On: Feb 10 2014 11:00:00 PM EST

Have you ever seen a customer arguing with a store employee or even yelling, demanding to speak to a manager? That might not be the best way to handle a conflict.

ORLANDO, Fla. -

Have you ever seen a customer arguing with a store employee or even yelling, demanding to speak to a manager? That might not be the best way to handle a conflict. Just ask Aurora McBride. She considers herself a pro complainer. 

In fact, a company just sent McBride a new wheel to replace one that broke off her laundry cart.

"While I'm very polite and nice, I want to make sure they know I was very unhappy with the product I received or the service I received," McBride said.

McBride keeps a complaint file full of letters written to different stores she was unhappy with. She said doing research and knowing who to contact is key.

Web Extra: Become a professional complainer

"I’ve got tons of instances where I've been contacted by district managers, apologizing for stores that mess up," McBride said.

Melanie Barrientes said her family and friends call on her if they have a problem.

"If you don't speak up, how are they going to know?" Barrientes said.

Barrientes let Green Meadows Farm know she was disappointed with a field trip her son took there and in return received free tickets.

"I'll go online and I will research on how to get ahold of the owner and I will sit there and write a letter and I will call them, I do both," Barrientes said.

Local 6 visited the Better Business Bureau, which rates businesses and deals all kinds of complaints. Last year 14,000 people filed complaints with the BBB, and more than two million people inquired about businesses.

"It is important to have a voice, don't feel totally powerless," said Judy Pepper, president of the BBB. "We asked, is there a proper way to complain and get results?"

In Pepper’s opinion, yes.

"We always suggest the consumer go back to the business first and try and resolve it," Pepper said.

Pepper recommends:

  1. Speaking up- stores usually want to know about mistakes

  2. Time your complaint carefully- save complicated issues for weekday, business hours

  3. Gather Facts- keep your documentation, receipts etc.

  4. Try being nice- you get more with honey

  5. Finally set realistic expectations- do not make unreasonable demands

Most important, Pepper said, "Understand what the company will or will not do or what they will or will not cover. Retail stores may have no refund policy, so you have to be careful in the very beginning."

Depending on the type of complaint, you can file with a number of agencies:

  • Better Business Bureau

  • Attorney General's Office

  • Federal Trade Commission

"You may not have gotten your issue resolved, but you have been able to tell someone else about it and help protect them," Pepper said.

That's why McBride said she speaks up.

“It's not about getting things for free, it's not about scamming the system. If I buy four hair ties and four break, I will let the company know because its on there end and it's obviously faulty,” McBride said.

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