Getting ripped off sucks, there’s no two ways about it.
Some lucky consumers make it through life without ever experiencing this particular brand of awful, but most of us deal with it at one point or another.
If you’ve been swindled by a business, here are some steps you can take to get your money back.
Before you take action, ask yourself if your complaint is legitimate. There’s no point getting into a lengthy battle if all you’re fighting for is a $10 refund.
Knowing exactly what you want is key. When you’re in the midst of a dispute, you need to be able to articulate whether you’re looking for a refund, replacement or something else.
Remember to keep your temper in check as losing your cool will work against you.
Going off half-cocked will make the company think you’re a nutjob and they’ll be less likely to work with you.
Use the Chain Of Command
It’s easy to forget there’s a chain of command when you’re in the heat of the moment. Start at the source.
If you purchased a product from a store, speak with the clerk who helped you before speaking to a supervisor or manager.
As you work your way up the ladder, keep records of all the information you gather as it will be helpful in the future.
Email is a great way to contact companies and leave a virtual paper trail that is easy to trace. Be sure to outline what wrong you feel has been done and what the business can do to resolve the situation.
If talking to them or corresponding via email doesn’t work, send a letter via certified mail. Repeat your complaint and what steps need to be taken for resolution. If the business fails to respond in a reasonable amount of time, you can move on to the next step.
When You Aren’t Getting a Favorable Response
If you decide to take your frustration with a company to the internet, be very careful what you say because you could find yourself being sued for libel or defamation.
State the truth and stick to the facts if you end up posting on their Twitter, Facebook or other social media channels.
Reviews on websites like Yelp should clearly state the problem and the response you received concerning your complaint. If your review is over the top or extremely bitter, people are likely to disregard it.
If you used your credit card to pay for the product or service, dispute the charge. Provided you haven’t abused this power in the past, your card issuer will generally take your word against the merchant and restore the money to your account.
Your credit provider will then start an investigation and petition the business to prove that they did no wrong.
If your claim is denied and you feel you are in the right, the next step is to contact a government agency.
Get the Government Involved
Sometimes, just being contacted by the government is enough to scare a company into working with you.
Most merchants aren’t keen on having complaints filed against them on local, state and federal levels.
Check with your local consumer protection agencies to see how they can help you resolve your dispute.
If you feel that any laws have been broken, contact the Federal Trade Commission. They specialize in prosecuting businesses who unlawfully take advantage of their clientele.
Call a Lawyer
If all other avenues have failed, it’s time to break out the big guns and call a lawyer.
Litigation is not to be taken lightly as it can be extremely expensive and time-consuming. Like contacting the government, sometimes just the threat of a lawsuit can persuade a business to settle your complaint.
Consider using an affordable legal service to send a letter written on your behalf. While suing a business may result in compensation, legal costs can seriously reduce the amount you receive.
Know When to Walk Away
If you reach a point where the time and cost involved just isn’t worth it, perhaps it’s best to accept the loss and move on.
By making your voice heard, notifying the government and warning other consumers, you’ve won a small victory.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net