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How to Get Excellent Customer Service -- and Your Money’s Worth -- from Any Organizat

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  • How to Get Excellent Customer Service -- and Your Money’s Worth -- from Any Organizat

    It's likely happened to everyone: you purchase a brand new computer, television, or other big-ticket item, or even just a pair of shoes or a new coat, only to bring it home and realize it is not what you expected. Perhaps the shoes make your feet hurt or, even worse, the computer is flawed and not working correctly. You attempt to bring it back to the store, only to be met by an uncooperative customer service representative.

    When this happens, one of two things may happen. You may tackle the situation too meekly or even feel bad about wanting to get your money back (or get a suitable replacement item). Conversely, you may enter the situation with aggression and anger, demanding that the store do as you say. Either way, the end result is likely to make it harder for you to get your true money’s worth from the organization.

    This can be even more of an issue, of course, in challenging financial times when your dollar needs to stretch even further.

    In order to be treated with respect, and to receive the refund or replacement you’re owed, it’s necessary to be aware of both the practical, and the emotional, steps to getting great customer service.

    To be a savvy shopper, you must know your rights as a consumer.
    • The Cooling-Off Rule: The Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) 'Cooling-Off Rule' gives you three days to cancel certain purchases of $25 or more. The Cooling-Off Rule applies to sales at the buyer's home, workplace or dormitory, or at facilities rented by the seller on a temporary or short-term basis, such as hotel or motel rooms, convention centers, fairgrounds and restaurants. The Cooling-Off Rule applies even when you invite the salesperson to make a presentation in your home. For more information, see the FTC's Facts for Consumers.
    • Unordered Merchandise: If you receive merchandise you didn’t order, you can consider it a gift, according to federal law. Although it’s not obligatory, you can send a letter to the seller informing them of your intentions to keep the merchandise, in order to discourage them from sending you bills or to notify them of the error. You cannot be forced to return or pay for the item.
    • Mail and Telephone Order Sales: If you shop by phone or mail, your order must be shipped within the timeframe stated by the seller. If no timeframe is given, your order should be shipped within 30 days. If the company does not ship in the promised timeframe, they must give you an “option notice,” which offers you the choice of agreeing to the delay or canceling your order and receiving a refund.
    • Pricing Accuracy: When purchasing an item, always make sure it rings up at the correct price. If it does not, tell the cashier immediately and ask them to make the correct adjustment.
    • Warranties: Always be aware of what’s covered under product warranties, and expect companies to uphold such repairs or replacements during the warranty period.

    The Emotional Considerations

    If you've purchased an item you're unhappy with, it's important to get your emotions in the right place before you attempt to solve the problem. Otherwise, you may allow the store to take advantage of you, or your aggressive attitude may make customer service reps unwilling to work with you.

    “Most of us go into situations that require customer service with dread based on both our past experience and the experiences of others. It doesn't need to be that way,” says Hale Dwoskin, CEO and director of training of Sedona Training Associates. “If you have the tendency to be too aggressive or pushy when you're trying to get customer service you may have already noticed that the customer service representatives have a tendency to push back. And if you have a tendency to be a little too meek or mild-mannered, or just too nice, you can easily get neglected.”

    “The best way to break the pattern of being too pushy is to let go of wanting to control or manipulate the customer service representative. The more you let go of pushing, the more likely they are to come your way,” Dwoskin continues. “And if you find yourself being too mild-mannered, the best thing to do is to let go of wanting them to like you and allow yourself to stand strong and do what's best for you. This will result in them taking you seriously and giving you what you need.”

    If you're not sure how to let go of these self-sabotaging emotions, The Sedona Method can show you how. The Method is a simple tool to easily release insecurities, anger, anxiety and concern so that you can perform, and feel, at your best.

    “No matter what your tendency, the more you release as you deal with customer service representatives the more likely you are to have a positive outcome,” Dwoskin says. “You’ll also feel better every step of the way.”

    Keep in mind also that if you let go and approach the customer service representative in a fair and respectable manner -- but STILL do not have your problem resolved -- you can take further action. The FTC recommends:
    • Contacting the seller and explaining your problem (keep a record of all conversations, their times and dates, the people you spoke with, etc.). In some cases you may need to contact the manufacturer in lieu of the seller.
    • Write a letter. Keep it clear and concise, and be sure to include all facts and copies of necessary documents (sales receipts, repair orders, warranties, contracts, correspondence with the company, etc.).

    If that doesn’t work, you can contact the following agencies for further help:
    • Your state attorney general’s department of consumer protection issues
    • Your local consumer protection office
    • The Better Business Bureau in your state and where the company is located
    • The local media (television, radio, or newspaper consumer action lines)
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