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Where to complain

Once you master the art of complaining, you have to figure out where to complain. This is all part of your strategy. You need to work your way up the chain of command and realize that different complaint mechanisms will yield different results. The good news – there are resources out there to help you get action.

Website complaints
Many consumers are taking their complaints straight to message boards. Consumer Affairs and Ripoff Report are two fairly common boards where consumers can vent.

Some sites work with the company to resolve the issue. Other companies monitor these complaint sites and may take action on their own.

Find the decision maker in the company
The key to successfully solving a problem is finding the person within an organization that has the power to make decisions and offer refunds to customers. Every company calls this office something different. To find this office within a company, ask to have your call “escalated” or ask to speak to a “supervisor.”

If you can’t get satisfaction on the phone, you can try putting the complaint in writing. The Consumer Action Handbook gives you a sample copy of how the letter should be drafted. I think this is more of an old days approach, but it might work for you. Just keep it short, keep your anger out of it, and clearly state how the problem can be rectified.

Click here [then click “Where to File a Complaint” on the left hand column of the page] for a list of contacts, phone numbers, and addresses for major companies. Before computers and the Internet, this list from the Consumer Action Handbook was extremely helpful. I think it’s less effective now. The key to solving the problem these days is finding the person who can actually help and a lot of these numbers are generic customer service numbers, but I’ll post it as it might help you.

Report the company to the appropriate trade or professional organization
Some trades are better than others in resolving complaints. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry is one I really like for contractor disputes if the company is a NARI member.

At last check, the Kansas City NARI office gets less than a half dozen complaints a year. That’s too many in their eyes. They resolve complaints quickly and hold their members to high standards. Other trade groups may or may not have an arbitration or mediation process to resolve differences between parties.

Click here for Northeast Ohio NARI list of contractors

Click here for a list of trade & professional organizations by industry

File a complaint with the BBB
The Better Business Bureau is an agency that will send letters on your behalf and try to resolve your complaint. They give the business a chance to respond, and then each of you can rebut what the other says. Some of these complaints net results, others don’t.

Call for Action
Call for Action is an international non-profit organization run mostly by volunteers. CFA teams up with newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations all over the world. Click here to find the local affiliate. If there is not one, try the national organization. Those volunteers will also try to work your problem toward resolution.

If you can’t find a Call for Action office, try to personally contact a local consumer advocate at the local television station or newspaper.

Attorney General
The AG is yet another option, but don’t expect big results. They typically send letters as well, but their chief job is not to act as your lawyer. From what I’ve seen, most of the complaints they get are used to find bigger investigations. It’s worth a try, though, to complain here while alerting the state to this company that’s less than desirable.

In Missouri and Ohio, you’re also alerting the public about the company. You can search the complaint database online.

Complaint Searches
Missouri — Know MO

Ohio — Speak Out Ohio

Filing a complaint
File a complaint with the MO AG

File a complaint with the Kansas AG

File a complaint with the Ohio AG