Customer Service – How to Get a Refund Without Losing Your Dignity

Ever notice how the Complaint Department in stores have been replaced by the Customer Service Department?  There is a reason for that.  Nobody likes a complainer and that includes the person behind the counter.  To resolve your issue as quickly and painlessly as possible follow these simple suggestions:

  1. Remain calm – Contrary to what you may think, the person behind the counter or on the phone did not create the problem.  Their job is to help you resolve your problem so stay cool.  Getting angry at the customer service representative will not help you resolve your issue and will most likely make it more difficult for you to communicate effectively.
  2. Clearly State the Issue – Explain clearly why the product or service you purchased is not performing as advertised.  If you can give a concrete example of how the product or service is not performing as expected, the customer service representative's  job will have a much easier job in resolving your concern.  If you are having difficulty explaining how the product is not performing, you can expect the customer service representative to have difficulty in returning your money.
  3. Follow Return Policies – Most businesses have their return policies printed on receipts and available at the customer service department.   Walmart has a 90 day return policy and will allow you to make in-store returns for items without a receipt.  Best Buy has a 14 day return policy on computers however, Reward Zone Program Premier Silver members have 45 days for returns.
  4. Don't Abuse the System – Most businesses want to please their customers and will work with you to resolve your complaint so don't expect the customer service department to except returns that clearly violate return policy.  A prime example is trying to return an item like clothing that has had the tags removed and has signs of being worn.
  5. Read Product Warranty – On the occasion when you encounter a business that fails to resolve your concern satisfactorily, it is a good idea to read the manufactures product warranty.  Some businesses have a strict policy that manufacturer defects will need to be addressed directly with the manufacturer.
  6. Consumer Complaints – Your first option should be to contact the Better Business Bureau to file a complaint.  When all else fails you have the option of filing a complaint with the Attorney General's Office in your state.  Make sure you have documented all contacts with the business's customer service department that provided you the product or service and that you can document clearly what the issue is and what resolution you are asking for.

Have you had an experience with Customer Service that you would like to share?

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21 Responses to Customer Service – How to Get a Refund Without Losing Your Dignity

  1. Jackie 02/03/2012 at 5:45 am #

    Generally I find that being nice and politely explaining the problem gets results. I did have one experience though where it took a year of trying that ended with a letter to the New York Attorney General (who cc’d the FAA with a response and a copy of my complaint) to get results. So I guess I would add keep going up the chain, and don’t give up.

  2. UltimateSmartMoney 02/02/2012 at 6:55 pm #

    I agree with escalating to supervisor works really well. We use that if everything fails.

  3. Marissa @ Thirty Six Months 02/01/2012 at 7:00 pm #

    I find that the nicer I am when asking for something the better my results are. I thin years of customer services teaches you the tricks of the trade.

  4. frugalportland 02/01/2012 at 8:23 am #

    Also, don’t ever lose your dignity. Goodness gracious, it’s the only thing we have sometimes. And being rude to customer service people earns you a special place in hell.

  5. SB @ One Cent At A Time 01/31/2012 at 8:47 pm #

    With comparable prices, buy from a store which has more customer service reputation.

  6. Maggie@SquarePennies 01/31/2012 at 8:46 pm #

    I agree to ask to speak to the supervisor if you are getting nowhere with the first few people you talk to. Use the “broken record” technique to calmly restate your complaint as many times as it takes. Keep records of who you talked to, the date and time, and what the representative told you. Keep at it and keep asking to speak to “your supervisor” as needed.

    • Paul 01/31/2012 at 10:48 pm #

      Good point Maggie. The supervisor has the authority to remedy your problem so be nice to them as well!

  7. Newlyweds on a Budget 01/31/2012 at 5:09 pm #

    I used to work in customer service and whenever someone was a bitch to me, I made sure to make it super hellish for them. If they’re nice to me, I always try and help them out. I don’t understand why some people think getting angry at the customer service rep will somehow help your situation–you want to make this person your ally not your enemy.

    • Paul 01/31/2012 at 10:45 pm #

      It never helps the situation if you lose your temper!

  8. Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog 01/31/2012 at 11:38 am #

    Great tips – i’ve found that customer service can vary greatly by company and even within company – some of them are are so pleasant to talk to, and others seem annoyed that you called.

  9. Hack @ Smart Money Hacks 01/31/2012 at 10:04 am #

    Good advice – I’ve found that being considerate will take you miles further than being rude. I’ve always been impressed with Hilton customer service. They’ve reversed error when it was my fault and always seem accommodating when we need something – it makes me want to go back the next time I need to travel.

  10. PK 01/31/2012 at 9:04 am #

    When all else fails? Charge-back!

    Well, if you used your credit card anyway…

    • Paul 01/31/2012 at 10:42 pm #

      I have been able to have Bank of America charge-back a disputed charge from a debit card as well.

      • Jeremy @ Modest Money 02/03/2012 at 3:51 pm #

        Yes, if you are ever in doubt of something you are buying, be sure to put it on your credit card. They often have the power to give you a refund when the store employees may not agree. Many credit cards even automatically extend the warranty on products. Chargebacks do negatively affect the retailer. So in some cases you could even mention the option of a chargeback and get quicker results.

  11. Kay Lynn @ Bucksome Boomer 01/31/2012 at 5:30 am #

    I would add to escalate to the manager if you’re not getting anywhere with the first line employee.

    • Paul 01/31/2012 at 10:41 pm #

      Not sure why I left that one out but thanks for pointing that one out Kay.


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