Sunday, April 5, 2009

Don't Be Afraid to Ask for What You Want

Have you ever gone to the store, had your hands full at the register and not noticed until you got home and went over your receipt that you were overcharged? Have you ever purchased an item or a service, only to find out it wasn't all it was promised to be or it broke with normal use? Most of us, if not all of us, have had some bad experiences as customers. The good news is that there is something you can do about it.

Often, you can get what you want over the phone. If you've got decent verbal skills, this can be an effective way to resolve your problem and get what you want. The key is persistence and patience. When we bought our house nearly four years ago, we upgraded the appliances. We thought if we went with the higher brand name that they would last longer and work better.

In our case, we were mistaken. The first year we had to call on our freezer twice (the ice maker was having issues), our microwave once (it started sparking when we used it), our dishwasher (the silverware tray hinges broke), and we had to trip the breaker on our electrical to get the self cleaning oven to turn off (thankfully that never happened again). We couldn't believe it! But thankfully everything was covered under warranty, and so we didn't have to pay for anything.

I can't believe, considering all the trouble we had, that I didn't get around to extending the warranties. Blame it on being busy with the little ones and working on getting all our landscaping done. In any case, we didn't extend our coverage. Six months after our coverage expired, all of our lights and the digital display in the refrigerator when out. I called, hoping that it was one of the few parts that was covered under the longer warranty. It wasn't, and it was going to cost several hundred dollars to replace.

I was furious, but I kept my cool when I called the company to see if they would pay for it anyway. They told me no. I asked to be transferred higher, that person told me no, I asked to be transferred even higher, that person told me no. I told them I wasn't getting off the phone until they told me yes. I told them how we had bought all of our appliances from them, and they were supposed to be top of the line. I told them how many times we had to call on said appliances, and how we were less than satisfied with their performances. I told them how I would tell anyone and everyone who would listen about my experience with said appliances and their manufacturer if they didn't do the right thing and cover the part. I basically let them know that I wasn't going away. Finally, over an hour later, they said "okay, we'll pay for the part if you'll cover the labor." I took it. The labor was only $60 and so I was satisfied with that deal.

Never once did I raise my voice, curse (though believe me, there were times I wanted to--haha!), or act offensive to them. I let each person know that I realized that they weren't actually the ones who made my appliances, and that this was just their job, but I wasn't going to let this go. They listened.

Another customer service issue: If I've been overcharged at the grocery store by a few cents, or even a dollar, I'll usually let that go. But there was actually a time that I was overcharged over five dollars. That was when gas prices were much higher, and I would've spent about that much to go back to the store and get my money back. That didn't appeal, so I wrote a letter to their corporate office, letting them know my experience, how I was overcharged and how it made me feel as their customer to know that if I took my eyes off the scanner for a moment, I would lose money. They sent me a $10 gift card and a letter of apology.

I've received refunds on items, replacement products and other things, all as a result of being able to keep my cool over the phone or in a letter. This can be a great way to get your money back, or to get something replaced. Sometimes they'll even send valuable coupons with your replacement (usually food manufacturers do this).

If phone calls, or letter writing doesn't get you anywhere, you can always file a claim with the Better Business Bureau. I did this with AT&T once. They charged me $3 for a collect call I refused. It wasn't the amount of money I was upset about, it was the principle of it, and the way they treated me when I asked them to remove the charge. Their representative really should've considered their words when they told me that it was basically too bad, I had to pay it and there was nothing I could do about it. That was a challenge to me, and I accepted it. I went to the BBB's website, filed a report, and what do you know? My account was credited! Hah!

I thought I'd share this information with those who haven't tried this. You don't have to settle for less. Get more for your money, or at the very least, what you paid for. Go get what you paid for!