Almost every product sold nowadays comes with a satisfaction guarantee, but how many people actually hold companies to these claims? It’s usually not worth one’s trouble to complain about a $3 bag of stale chips and maybe the manufacturers are banking on this. However, it’s also likely that manufacturers want to keep consumers happy so they will purchase the product again. It’s also likely that the manufacturers want to collect data – data about you, your address, your age, your household income, as well as data about the defective product, when and where it was produced, and if it was limited to a particular batch.
I’m sure the manufacturer will send a refund check if a consumer insists, but more likely, the company will send coupons for free or heavily discounted items. It’s not worth their time and money to verify the purchase and cut a $3 check. Furthermore, coupons entice the consumer to try their products again. The good news is that the value of the coupons are often worth more than the value of the defective product. For instance, I complained to Huggies about a couple of diapers that leaked a gel-like substance when it got wet and they sent me coupons for two free boxes of diapers. It’s possible that a consumer can abuse this privilege, but I suspect that after too many requests, the manufacturers will have that person’s information in the database and catch on.
Yes, I write to the manufacturers to voice my disappointment about a poor quality product, but it’s more than that. It’s also the hassle of a separate trip back to the store to buy another box of diapers, or it’s the embarrassment of serving your guests stale potato chips. In that particular incident, I was concerned about my child’s safety if his skin touched the gel-like substance that was leaking out. I feel that the manufacturer should know about such defects because if enough other people complain, they may need to go back to the drawing board and redesign the product. With email and the internet, it has become very easy to contact the manufacturer and this helps me justify the time and effort I spend to file a complaint.
So the next time you are not satisfied with something you bought, do something about it. Jump on the manufacturer’s website and look for a “Contact Us” or “Feedback” form that you can fill out. They usually want to know the package number or some other label that helps them track down information about where the product was produced, packaged, and shipped so try and have that information handy. But tell them more than just why you were not satisfied with the product. Were you concerned about your health and safety? Were you inconvenienced because you had to go back to the store? Was the product no longer on sale so you had to pay more? Go ahead, do it! They will appreciate the feedback. And it will be fun to see what they send to you as compensation.
PS – This applies to companies that provide services as well. I complained to Comcast when my internet went down 3 times within a month, sometimes for 2-3 days at a time. They adjusted my bill plus gave me an additional $20 credit. I would much rather have uninterrupted service, but at least I was compensated for the inconvenience.
Have you ever complained to a company about a defective product or unsatisfactory service? What was the outcome and was it worth your time?
28 December 2012
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