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Smart Buying

Complain and Get Results

What do you do when entry-level customer service representatives cannot resolve your concerns? Here are the steps to effectively escalate a consumer complaint.

1. Call in a supervisor, if necessary, or write to the CEO or the company's customer service manager.

2. State your case. Be specific and succinct, and include your expectations. Provide a time frame -- say, 14 days -- in which you expect a resolution. On day 15, take the next step.

3. Enlist a referee. Some groups exist to broker disputes, although you may have to accept a compromise. Get help from Call for Action or the Better Business Bureau.

4. Bring in the big guns. Complain to the appropriate agency: a local licensing or consumer-affairs bureau or the state attorney general's office.

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5. Tell it to the judge. Small-claims court will resolve disputes involving a few thousand dollars or less, and you can argue your own case. The court doesn't enforce judgments, but reputable companies honor them.

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