You only bought your laptop last year and now it suddenly won’t turn on. Your trudge back to the store you bought it from, a copy of your receipt in hand. They cut you off mid-sentence to quickly point out that they ‘don’t do refunds’. You learn that your warranty period expired last month. You find yourself listening to the sales rep rattle off a rehearsed spiel about ‘normal wear and tear’ before quoting you the astronomical price of another laptop. Sound familiar?

When we’re faced with this all too common situation, we resort to firing off a series of angry tweets or phone calls– but this rarely fixes the problem. The most effective way to manage and resolve your complaint is to lodge it in writing. If you’re a little rusty, follow our top four pain-free tips to getting your complaint resolved.

1. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS UNDER THE CONSUMER GUARANTEES

It is critically important that you have a firm grasp on the consumer protections relevant to your claim. When you purchase a product or service, there are automatic protections and rights afforded to you as a consumer. However, companies push policies and warranty periods that are expressly designed to limit their liability in respect to your purchase. They’re essentially looking out for themselves, while the consumer protections are looking out for number one – you. Consumer protections operate in addition to the terms and conditions provided to you by some retailers. Often, they completely override them. That’s where your knowledge of consumer entitlements comes into sharp focus.

Is the product you purchased faulty? Under consumer guarantees, you’re entitled to a refund or replacement, irrespective of what your warranty says or any claims made by the company at the point of purchase. Did you take the faulty product back to the place you purchased it, only to be told that you have to contact the manufacturer to get a replacement? The consumer guarantees say otherwise. Is the company claiming that because you purchased the faulty product on sale, that you’ve waived your right to a refund under their terms and conditions? The consumer guarantees completely override such claims.

To ensure that you aren’t being taken for a ride, don’t take the responses fired back by staff members merely on face value and call it a day. Actively reason with the company by clearly articulating your position throughout your letter of complaint. This course of action is the best way to increase the likelihood of a successful outcome from the start.

2. BE RESULTS ORIENTED AND CLEAR ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT

To get what you want, be very clear about what that is. The consumer protections shed light on the types of remedies that you may be entitled to. Be sure to clearly state in your complaint the most appropriate remedy and a reasonable time-frame within which you expect a response. Seven to ten working days is the most appropriate standard for most matters.

3. MAKE SURE YOUR COMPLAINT IS CONCISE AND CONTAINED

An effective complaint is an accessible complaint. When it comes to efficient complaint letter writing, less is usually more. The more succinct your complaint, the greater focus on your desired outcome. Your claim should be polite and well thought out, following a chronological order of events. A minimalist approach will encourage a sense of professionalism that will help you stick out from the crowd. In the absence of any clutter detracting from your claim, your knowledge of consumer protections will speak for itself.

4. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ESCALATE YOUR CLAIM

You’ve received a response to your initial complaint and you aren’t satisfied with the outcome. Perhaps the allotted time frame has passed and you didn’t get a response at all. It isn’t the end of the road, so don’t give up yet. When you have lodged an articulate complaint to a company, it is likely that you have compiled a valid claim that must be answered. It may be the case that you will need to escalate your complaint up the corporate ladder before you get the outcome you deserve. Don’t hesitate to continue to politely request a response that adequately addresses your claim. They key is to focus on being as polite as possible when drawing attention to your initial complaint. If the responses you receive continue to be inadequate, calmly suggest an alternative. Tell the company that if they remain unable to reach an appropriate resolution, that you would be happy to abide by a decision of the most appropriate complaint body. Then sit back and watch your initial complaint do all the talking.

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