The fine art of complaining

It’s a weekend of “learning how to complain” stories.  Do I sense a trend?

In my post on Get some satisfaction- article notes that complaints can pay off with several basic steps, I blogged about the article How to Get Some Satisfaction Customer complaints can pay off with several basic steps by Greg Saitz, and reiterated my post on how to complain (and get results), in which I include a link to an article in the Seattle Times, “Firing of an e-mail? Make sure of your aim.”

This weekend, Christopher Elliott (who offers more information on his web site at writes for the Tribune. In his article “The fine art of complaining” Elliott says…

“over the years, I’ve developed a few insider tricks for fixing a derailed trip: whom to write, what to say and where to go when no one listens. But if I had to distill everything into one simple rule, it would be: The sooner you speak up, the better your chances of getting what you deserve.”

I like this guy.  You’ll find similar themes and advice here and in the sites I’ve previously recommended.

Here are Elliott’s “strategies for making things right when they have gone wrong…”

Don’t wait

Keep meticulous records

Take a deep breath. Stay calm.

Talk is cheap – Do everything in writing. Write tight and polite.

Start at the bottom, go through channels and give the system a chance to work.

Cite the rules

Tell them what you want—nicely.  I’ll say it again: Be extra nice.

Copy all the right people

Press ‘send’ or mail.  E-mail is an acceptable way to file a grievance [but] snail mail still works best.

Be patient.  Elliott writes that the typical grievance takes six to eight weeks to resolve. Yes, six to eight weeks.

Turned down? Get it in writing. Don’t accept no for an answer by phone.

Appeal your case to a higher authority

Take another deep breath, Don’t overreact.

Take extreme measures, [perhaps] a respectful but insistent letter “overnighted” directly to the chief executive officer along with the disappointing string of no’s you’ve received.

Go to court

Know when to cut your losses

Tags: support, customer service, customer support.