Is contacting customer service to complain worth it? (yes and no)

As a consumer advocate, I expect a fair deal for fair money paid when I buy good and services. And, I love it companies, especially large ones out there, like Amazon and others, have robust, responsive customer service. And, the good news it after complaining to Uber a few weeks ago about poor service, they finally came around and did the right thing and made me whole. When it is as easy as ever to contact companies, via email, web contact forms, Twitter, Facebook, phone calls, and even mail, it pains me when people don’t fight back when they are harmed as consumers. This begs the inevitable question I both ask and receive –  is it worth it? That can be tough answer because everyone’s circumstances vary. But, let’s discuss this a bit and show you when it is worth your trouble.

Worth contacting customer service

When it is…

  1. A significant amount of money involved (again, subjective). If all it takes is a quick phone call or email to get a refund on anything more than $10, that to me is worth it. Considering that the Federal minimum wage is $7.25, $10 is more than an hour’s labor for many.
  2. An easy problem to solve. A lot of my customer service issues are simply misunderstandings, accidental obvious overcharges, or glitches that caused an error.
  3. A product that is under warranty. Don’t think that buying a replacement is the only way to fix a malfunctioning product, get the warranty claim you deserve.
  4. A sense of pride. I have contacted customer service over matters that some might think insignificant, but when I feel that I have been wronged and that others may experience the same issue, I let it be known that I am not happy. And, as my friend reminded me the other day of a story when a company tried to blow off a refund of only $5, he reminded them that it was HIS money – not theirs – even though it was a small amount.
  5. Going to be a recurring problem. Unlike simply throwing money at a problem as a way of fixing it, get to the root cause and figure out why something happened to prevent it from happening again. Think monthly phone service, cable bills, etc.customer service

Not worth contacting customer service

When it is…

  1. A significant amount of time and effort that will be spent that involves giving up your free time. Nobody likes wasting time, so if solving an insignificant problem is going to ruin your day, forget it.
  2. Going to cause you to “lose it.” The key to effective service is keeping calm. If you have trouble with that, you won’t get anywhere.
  3. Going to create an awkward situation with friends or family. I can think of many examples here: dining out with friends and you get overcharged or have a bad waiter. You might just let it go so your friends don’t think you are temperamental. If your family member happens to work for the same company you are having problems with – you might want to drop it.
  4. A one-time situation. The product or service you bought may be a “consumable,” that is not going to last long anyway. Let’s think something as short lived as an ice cream cone, as an analogy. A few bites and it’s gone. Is it worth getting ticked if they missed a few sprinkles?
  5. Going to cause you problems down the road. Think blacklisting or being banned. This happens. People get banned from stores and other businesses if they constantly complain or don’t complain in a respectful manner.

There you have it. Some thoughts about when and when not to call customer service. Have something on your mind and if you are wondering whether it’s worth contacting a company over it? Let me know and I’d be glad to help.

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  1. Pingback: How to win at the customer service game

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