Are You a Vocal Consumer?

When you receive good service at a restaurant or store do you let the manager know? When you buy something that doesn’t meet your expectations do you inform the manufacturer? Do you know which items in your home have warranties and do you request replacements when the items fail to meet their expectations?

I do. I’m a vocal consumer and over the years I’ve been well rewarded for speaking up. I’ve received coupons for products, free meals and cash back.

Here’s a perfect example, a couple of weeks ago my family and I went out to dinner at a favorite local establishment. Our waitress was absolutely outstanding. She was friendly, courteous and attentive. When my 80+ year old grandmother asked her question after question about the menu she responded kindly and gently and offered great suggestions.

I appreciated her service so much that I sent an email to the restaurant manager to let him know the waitress was outstanding. One week later I received a phone call from the manager thanking me for my comments. Two days after that I received a letter in the mail with dollar off coupons to use on our next visit. I felt great providing feedback for our waitress, the coupons were just a perk for speaking up.

While I prefer to contact companies for good service, I’ve certainly been known to contact them when products don’t meet my expectations. When the $100 knife set I purchased began to rust after only one month of use, I emailed the company to find out if anything could be done.

I provided order details like dates and numbers, a detailed explanation of how I cared for the knives and also mentioned that I purchased similar knives three years earlier from that were still in perfect shape. A company representative contacted me within 48 hours with a couple of follow-up questions. I also offered to mail the defective knives back. Three days later I received a brand new box of knives, not just replacements for the defective ones, but the entire $100 box set.

I don’t let the price of an item deter me from contacting manufacturers. I’ll contact a company just as quickly for a $100 item as I will for one that cost 5 bucks. When the brand new bag of candy I opened contained discolored, distasteful chocolate I emailed the UPC and expiration date to the company and asked for assistance. I received multiple coupons to purchase a replacement product within a week.

Most of comments and inquiries take less than five minutes to document and submit. Through the power of the Internet I’m able to locate contact information, trace order numbers, document dates and provide necessary details. 80% of the time I’m rewarded for my efforts. More often than not the manufacturer’s make good on their products and mail me out replacement items or coupons for a product of comparable value.

In those rare instances when I don’t hear back from a company I typically return to the store with receipt in hand and ask for cash back. Just to be safe I keep receipts for all items, including groceries, for up to a month.

4 thoughts on “Are You a Vocal Consumer?”

  1. I think we're generally inclined to speak up only when things are negative, but I've been trying to make an effort over time to speak up when things are great as well. I think it motivates the person that gave you great service to continue to do so, and everybody loves a compliment. Great post, I will include in a future roundup!

  2. I'm pretty vocal. I sent an email to the customer service department of a cereal company to let them know that recently about 50% of their product was broken in fragments. I can understand the portion of cereal at the bottom of the box being in pieces, but not 50% of the box! They mailed me coupons good for free boxes of cereal and lately the boxes I've been purchasing have far less broken pieces.

    If you do have a complaint, I think it pays off to calmly and rationally let the company know that you're a long-time and generally satisfied customer, explain the situation that's a problem for you and allow them to rectify it. If they don't do right by you, escalate the issue up the chain of command.

    I usually get a satisfactory result this way–although as others have pointed out, I generally make myself heard in negative situations. I have praised outstanding customer service reps to their managers on several occasions. Hopefully, they were rewarded for their efforts.

  3. @me in millions – You aren't alone. I speak up much more frequently in negative situations than positive ones.

    @Stella and Money Beagle – I do hope people are rewarded when I speak up. Even if they don't receive monetary compensation they might get verbal recognition. A simple "good job" can go a long way in boosting morale.

    @Money Beagle – Thanks for including me in a future roundup.


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