5 Tips to Beat Bad Service – and Get Freebies

Photo (cc) by basykes

I get tired of hearing other customers express surprise when service stinks at the local Walmart. The chain beats everyone’s prices, and you get what you pay for, right?

Not necessarily, says Consumer Reports. Their recent survey found that most of us think customer service stinks in general – enough to walk out of a store. Of the 1,000 people surveyed:

  • 64 percent had left a store in the previous 12 months because of poor service.
  • 65 percent are “tremendously annoyed” by rude salespeople.
  • 67 percent hung up the phone without getting their issue resolved.
  • 71 percent were extremely irritated when they couldn’t reach a human on the phone.

The survey – part of an investigation featured in Consumer Reports’ July 2011 issue – identified the companies from 21 different industries that have the best service. Walmart topped the list of worst offenders, but it’s not alone.

“Walmart or Sam’s Club, and sometimes both, were among the worst in eight categories, including retailers for appliances, electronics, cell phones and supermarkets,” Consumer Reports says, adding, “Computer tech support, TV, phone and Internet service providers earned some of the lowest scores.”

So, who fared the best? The service at brokerage firms, eyeglass retailers, and pharmacies was among the highest-rated.

And can anything be done about Walmart and friends? Consumer Reports suggests picking up the phone – and offers these tips for successful griping:

  • Bypass automated phone menus. Websites such as DialAHuman.com and GetHuman.com list customer service numbers and tell how to bypass automated prompts to get a real person. Another free service, LucyPhone, will help you avoid sitting on hold by letting you to provide your phone number and hang up. The service calls you back when a live representative is on the line.
  • Write it down. When calling customer service, be ready to write. Record the date and time of the call, the name and location of everyone you talk to, how many times you were put on hold and for how long, and notes of the responses. Asking for these details will show the company you’re capable, serious and organized.
  • Threaten to take it upstairs. If you’re not getting action, tell the customer service rep you want to escalate the issue and talk to a supervisor. Since reps aren’t supposed to let that happen, it might result in a quicker fix.
  • Air your dirty laundry in public. If push comes to shove, use the Internet. Post your stories on social network and complaint sites. When using Twitter, use hashtag keywords to make them searchable. But stick to the facts and use good manners: while your frustration may driving you nuts, don’t rage: be polite, succinct and fair. Before you hit the “enter” key, imagine that what you’re saying is going to be read aloud in court – because it might be. See our story When Free Speech Gets Expensive.
  • If you use the stick, don’t forget the carrot. If you complain, especially publicly, don’t forget to use the same venues to thank a company for a happy outcome.

Even if you don’t have a beef, writing a company – especially with paper and envelope – to praise them for good service or a great product is probably the single best way to score free coupons or gift cards. This also sometimes works if you’re complaining about poor service or a disappointing product. Companies want to thank customers who take the time to compliment them – and they want to try to win back customers who take the time to let them know they’ve been turned off by the company’s service or product.

My mother taught me this deal-seeking lesson when I was a kid. It’s not guaranteed to work every time, but you stand a much better chance if you write a formal letter instead of an email. And instead of mailing it to the local store you’re complimenting or dissing, mail it to the company’s CEO at its headquarters and “CC” the manager at the local store.

(The CEO’s name and the headquarters address is always on their annual report. Just Google for “[company name] annual report” – here’s an example from my favorite department store. For the address of your local store, check their website’s store locator. For the name of their manager, call and ask nicely.)

So the next time you’re miffed about Walmart-like service, instead of whining to the person behind you in the unnecessarily long line, use that time to whip out your cell phone and do something about it: Make a call or send an email. And when you get home, find your stamps.

How to find cheaper car insurance in minutes

Getting a better deal on car insurance doesn't have to be hard. You can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site, so if you're ready to secure your new rate, get started now.

Read Next
36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon
36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon

The writing is on the wall for dozens of things we have grown up with.

5 Reasons You Should Claim Social Security ASAP
5 Reasons You Should Claim Social Security ASAP

Experts often recommend postponing claiming your Social Security retirement benefits. But there are situations in which you should start taking the money sooner.

Brace to Pay More for These 26 Prescriptions in 2020
Brace to Pay More for These 26 Prescriptions in 2020

More than 600 drugs — including these commonly prescribed meds — have seen price hikes so far this year.

It’s Worth Paying More for These 7 Things
It’s Worth Paying More for These 7 Things

Sometimes, the difference in quality makes it worthwhile to open your wallet a little wider.

This Is the Best Time of Day to Take Blood Pressure Meds
This Is the Best Time of Day to Take Blood Pressure Meds

The right timing can help you prevent a big — and possibly fatal — mistake.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?

Two factors determine how much money is coming to you.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store
21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store

Dollar stores have great bargains on these familiar purchases.

5 Household Disinfectants That Can Destroy the Coronavirus
5 Household Disinfectants That Can Destroy the Coronavirus

You likely already have some of these products at home.

6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman
6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman

Beware: The self-proclaimed personal finance expert has a track record that suggests more sizzle than steak.

20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling
20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling

You probably don’t need a year’s supply of toilet paper to survive an outbreak, but consider stocking up on these items.

16 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
16 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

10 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
10 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise
America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise

Have you heard of this appliance manufacturer?

This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked
This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked

The Social Security Administration is not helping certain people get money to which they are entitled, a report says.

Getting These 2 Shots Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia
Getting These 2 Shots Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia

These vaccines may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 40%.

9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline
9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline

Forget expensive specialty products. Good ol’ petroleum jelly can address many common annoyances.

19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret
19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret

Think twice before buying these things.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing food supply. Is your pantry prepared?

8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store
8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store

Not everything sold at dollar stores is a great bargain or a safe purchase. Here’s our list of products to avoid.

41 Things You Should Never Buy
41 Things You Should Never Buy

Some purchases are just plain dumb. Give yourself — and your budget — a break. Don’t spend money on this stuff.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

9 Indestructible Products That Are Worth the Price
9 Indestructible Products That Are Worth the Price

If you’re willing to pay a little more for these products, you may never have to shop for another again.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.