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Oct 8, 2011

Consumers are frustrated shoppers when they purchase poor products or disappointing services, particularly if the marketing has not been entirely truthful. The irritations rise when consumers attempt to resolve the problem with the retailer or manufacturer and are unable to get any satisfaction; not unusual in today's shopping experience.

Where is the customer relations department? The good will?

The poor quality of purchased goods and services is a fairly common topic in casual discussions these days. Selling at the maximum price, the least cost, and achieving the best profit, is the basis of the free enterprise system. It seems fair, yet as years pass there has been steadily increasing corporate competition for dales, and business ethic is a-changin'.

Where it is no longer practical to further increase the selling price, then operating costs can be reduced to achieve a net gain. This can be accomplished with production, delivery and sales efficiencies. Unfortunately for the consumer, these reductions may also be severely limited, and so the lowering of product or service quality enters the picture. This appears to be a growing practice for even some long established companies and the limit on this is when the product becomes near useless to the buyer. It is sad when we see the deterioration in good honest value in some retail areas.

Short changing buyers with poor quality at high prices and the popular use of deceptive advertising and sales methods must be working well for business judging from their spreading usage. The most callous of merchandisers are not much concerned about negative consumer reactions as their customer relations service can be non-existent, difficult to contact, or entirely unhelpful with empty acknowledgments.

Where it is no longer practical to further increase the selling price, then operating costs can be reduced to achieve a net gain. This can be accomplished with production, delivery and sales efficiencies. Unfortunately for the consumer, these reductions may also be severely limited, and so the lowering of product or service quality enters the picture. This appears to be a growing practice for even some long established companies and the limit on this is when the product becomes near useless to the buyer. It is sad when we see the deterioration in good honest value in some retail areas.

Short changing buyers with poor quality at high prices and the popular use of deceptive advertising and sales methods must be working well for business judging from their spreading usage. The most callous of merchandisers are not much concerned about negative consumer reactions as their customer relations service can be non-existent, difficult to contact, or entirely unhelpful with empty acknowledgments.

This hardhearted treatment of consumers should not have deteriorated to this state; where has government been? Free enterprise will no longer be a good political model if repairs are not soon made to the way good business ethic is disappearing. Commercial greed must be arrested in some way and interaction with the public made friendlier once again. It will require changing the apathy of consuming citizens of course, but also improving the integrity of politicians and the ethic of business people. A tall order indeed!

As the seller-buyer relationship has trended downward for so many years consumers have become complacent. Complaints have dried up considerably as many consumers have given in and try to shop more suspiciously. If stung they accept that they were trapped once again and then carry on, perhaps feeling a bit embarrassed that they were outsmarted. But this is a mistake that only encourages more of the same bad treatment. We must not take this; we need to tell them that we won't be treated in this greedy and unkind manner.

If we feel that a sales offer has been misleading or a purchase unacceptable and it appears to be a local problem, a complaint should be made to the local manager. However, if it is an obvious deceptive advertisement or display the effort may not be worthwhile. After all, if it was planned that way why wouldn't they make excuses and defend their actions?

In this scenario concerns should be directed to the corporate office, but finding a contact is not easy. Customer relations departments are not a popular business concept today. An internet search or asking at the local outlet should find a person and place to write to. There is often a related business association to consider contacting; however it exists for its business members. It is therefore unlikely to be helpful if the members in the industry of your concern are all marching to the same beat.

Does any industry come to mind?

My experience in writing complaints did not achieve much except to get it off my chest. I did observe that by addressing the letter to someone high in the organization, it could always be delegated downward. Also referring to the word 'ethical' seems to get attention and I once received a rebuttal from a corporate CEO. Yet the gooey replies are so often empty and discouraging.

"... the advertisement meets all legal requirements." - Legal yes, but I am being cheated.
"... subject to the ethical standards in the industry." - Painted with the same dirty brush.
"... our intent has never been to mislead and I believe our practices are . . ." - Liar!

Writing to a government agency or a consumer's group may be more helpful. Again not easy as there is not usually a clear direction or satisfying process in place. Canada's Competition Bureau carries out investigations and levies fines on businesses for bad practices such as bait and switch selling. However when I submitted a complaint I was informed of its receipt but that there would be no further correspondence with me on the matter. Persisting by letter a few months later, I received a phone call (no record) stating the same policy. No more information would be made available.

Letters to the editor can relieve some frustration if they get published and read by interested people. Yet if it is a complaint about a company that is a regular advertiser in the publication the chances of seeing it in print could diminish rapidly.

But we can't just give up if we want improvements to how we are treated in the marketplace. If we won't take the time to complain in person, by letter, phone or online, then we should expect worse from these corporations.

The public needs an advocacy system including a government consumer complaint submission department that will encourage participation from citizens. But will commerce oriented politicians ever do anything so helpful for its citizens?

Meanwhile let's talk it up at ground level; complain to the business, your next door neighbor, your friend, co-worker or anyone who will listen

Don't take it anymore!!

Writing a complaint letter:
You must keep receipts for all purchases where there is the slightest chance that you will need them later.
Describe the purchase: name of product, serial number. Include date and place of purchase.
State the problem and give history. Ask for specific action. Enclose copies of receipts and documents.
Keep copies of all your letters, faxes, e-mails, and related documents.

Visibility: Everyone
Posted: Saturday October 8, 2011, 6:31 am
Tags: poor quality service relations customer complaints [add/edit tags]

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male, age 79, married, 2 children
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