Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Sometimes you just have to get your money back!

Okay, nothing happened to me today, but I was inspired by Mary's post. Since I consider myself to be pretty good at this (and humble too), I thought I'd share.

I'm the one my friends and family know can talk people into giving me my money back for stuff. I really think that most people just don't try. But money doesn't grow on trees, and I refuse to be burnt by someone's bad products or service. On the other hand, I'm also far more likely than most people I know to go out of my way to thank people for good products or service. It's just good business. The business of running a home.

For example, a part went out on my dryer one month after the warranty expired, and I was nine months pregnant. They wanted to tell me that this was just too bad, but they were not going to get off that easily. Through eliminiation (dryers really don't have that many parts), it was obvious that a major part had gone bad. A part that, by their own admission, should not have gone bad for around ten years. Simple deduction: the part was defective. And they thought that I should be responsible for paying their technician for a new part to be installed. I DON"T THINK SO. Just because it didn't break a month ago, didn't mean it wasn't bad. What if I had had six kids already? It surely would have given up within that year then, right? Eventually I paid a $40 service fee and they covered the rest and gave me an additional 1 year warranty. The dryer's been great ever since. And do you know what? I would buy their dryer again next time now.

Toys are another big area in which you can lose a lot of money. My son took his birthday money and bought two similar toys at $15 a piece. He was thrilled with them. Until the first one broke and the second one wouldn't stay together one week later. I probably could have returned them to Walmart, but I hate to do that when it's not Walmart's fault. I have found that most major toy companies aim to please, and Hasbro absolutely outdid themselves. They sent me a prepaid label to ship them back for evaluation, asked if I would like to have them replaced with the same thing or something of equal value, and actually told me that I could write the item numbers for substitute choices on the return slip. It ended up that we wrote several items down with a note that this one particular Star Wars toy was what he had really wanted for his birthday, but it was completely sold out even before Christmas (his birthday is at the beginning of January). I mean this toy was gone from the market except fot a few collectors sites that had it for $200 instead of the original $30. Well, we got a package back from them expecting Hungry, Hungry Hippos, but it was instead, you guessed it - the Millenium Falcon!

Even bills can be helped by a polite conversation with a customer service rep. I always pay our credit card in full, but one month, I got online a day (really just a couple of hours) late. I was sick to my stomach. Late fee, interest.... I had nothing to lose. And the customer service lady just adjusted the date for me as sweetly as could be, and I was fine again.

So don't just give up on stuff. You can be polite, but persistent. Here are some tips. Some I've learned on my own, some from my brother (who actually goes way beyond what I would ever ask for, but has me laughing hysterically and scolding him at the same time. And he does get what he asks for).

  1. Ask for the person's name, write it down for future reference, and call the person by name when you're talking to them. If you are getting a serious run around (like the five month run around my mother-in-law got from a furniture company whose furniture she had under extended warranty, but they wouldn't replace) you can let the person know that you will let the next guy up know if they were helpful or not.
  2. Work your way up. There are a lot of things a customer service rep "just can't do" for you, but her manger or his manager most certainly can.
  3. Always be calm and polite. You can get a lot farther by kindly explaining that you need their help than you do by issuing threats. (Although, my brother once actually threatened to take out newspaper ads in the company's home town, and swears it was effective - but I wouldn't recommend it! :^)
  4. Don't assume that it's too late. If you feel that you've gotten a bad product, most companies will work with you. They want to keep their good name and your business. Try saying, "isn't it your goal to have satisfied customers? (yes) I am not a satisfied customer!" I had an infant toy that was used with Ethan for about a month or two, then packed away for two years until Anna Kate was ready to use it. But it would no longer keep it's shape and hold the little toys up; I was going to have to replace it. I decided to give Fisher Price a call (they are the best company to work with!). They couldn't replace it fully, but they did prorate it, which gave me back around 70% of what I paid - and I bought another Fisher Price toy.
  5. Don't forget to call about the good things too. I often call food companies, in particular, to thank them for a great product. They sometimes just stutter in shock and amazement, but sometimes they actually send me coupons or sign me up for a newletter. And I'll hold a long time just to let someone's superior know that they really went out of their way to help me out, even after someone else had told me that they couldn't do anything.


Hannah said...

Way to go Leash! You rock! If I could actually remember what all I wanted to say on the phone, I would probably do the exact same thing all the time. Poor me has a horrendous memory!

Terri said...

You & I think was like I was reading something I wrote. Good stuff, Lee.