Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Little Guy

Too many of us see ourselves as the little guy when it comes to dispute resolution with businesses. It would be ideal to love every acquisition we obtain, however, the reality is, there are times -more often than not- when we are either going to hate our purchases, they will be damaged, not work at all or we'll just change our minds about them. Some businesses, or dare I say, most big businesses make their return or cancellation policies clear. The rules are posted high and bright at their customer service desk and can't be missed. These rules state the time period with which to return or exchange the product, the return process for having or not having a receipt (full refund, restocking fee, gift card or store credit), and how the purchase was made (cash, debit, credit card, gift card). Then there are the bigger purchases which are difficult to take back (the 50" plasma, the new washer/dryer, the floors you had installed, etc.), the contract you signed and have now changed your mind about or the service fee which you feel is being unjustly applied. It is at this time, you see the "true colours" of the business.

If you find that the help or the remedy that is being offered by customer service is not to your satisfaction, do not be afraid to climb up the ranks. Many people feel that their complaints are not important or significant enough and therefore do not warrant the attention of a senior official. Others have the, "I can't be bothered" or "I don't have the time for this" attitude. It's important to understand that when you voice a complaint to a business, it gives them the opportunity to correct not only your problem, but to look into any defects their product(s) or policies might have. Remember, YOU are the customer, YOU spent your hard earned money and if YOU did not get what you thought you were going to get, YOU deserve to voice that. Ask to speak to the manager or assistant manager. Explain your concern(s) to them and take it from there. This usually helps to solve the problem. If this doesn't help or you are not satisfied, climb further up or contact the manufacturer and register your complaint with them. If that doesn't help, put your complaint in writing and send it via registered mail to the business and/or manufacturer. Keep a copy of the letter for yourself in case you have to seek third-party mediation.

It is important to know your rights as a consumer and what recourse you have in the event you find yourself in the above situation.

Links to Provincial websites on consumer protection:


British Columbia


New Brunswick


Northwest Territories

Nova Scotia







Happy Shopping!!

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