“Some days you get the bear and some days the bear gets you.”, Commander William T. Riker, USS Enterprise NCC-1701D.In the last week, I got a refund at CVS for a faulty tube of mascara, and the manufacturer sent me a gift certificate for more than I had originally spent, as well as free shipping to order directly from their website.
My MP3 player, which I’d purchased 5 months ago, stopped working. The Amazon seller sent me a brand new replacement, which was fully charged right out of the box. He also told me to keep the old one.
And, due to a computer glitch and a misquoted fee, I was able to negotiate my co-pay from a trip to the Emergency Room from $250 to $35.
This week I got the bear.On average, I would say that I get the bear about 75-80% of the time. Very rarely am I completely rebuffed and rejected when I have an issue with a company or product.
I’m not unusually special or charming. I’m not an attorney, nor do I have one on retainer. And, I’m not scary or violent. So, how do I end up with refunds, apologies, and satisfaction while other people wind up on the receiving end of negativity and frustration?
I was in the library one day, and the guy working checkout informed a patron that a lost card replacement would cost $5.
The woman next in line lost her ever-loving mind. She did a good five minutes on how the entire system was rigged against the little guy. How every time she came in, she saw some other poor, benighted soul jacked by the man.What this irate woman failed to realize was that the employee in whom she was taking such joy in pummeling, was not ‘the man’. This guy had no more say in library policy than the books we were borrowing. He had no authority to waive that fee.
That episode illustrates two important things to remember when you decide it’s time to take a stand.
First, and most importantly, the person that is on the front lines, the first to hear your issue, will almost never be the one who makes the rules, and can make things right for you. But, this is the gatekeeper. This person is the one who will either plead your case or see to it that your case is ended before it ever gets started. You are wise to be genuinely kind and respectful. Frequently this attitude will persuade them to act as your advocate.
Secondly, if you’re spoiling for a fight, take up boxing, or throw down with a rap battle (The east coast-west coast thing is still pretty volatile, I hear. Or maybe hip-hop versus chap-hop). If you approach this encounter with anger, threats, and abuse, rarely will things go your way.
Rather, express your bewilderment and disappointment. How could such a thing happen with a company or product you’ve used for years and believe in? Explain how this completely uncharacteristic, unfortunate event has impacted your life. You want an empathetic ear to help you overcome an injustice, not a punching bag to abuse.
And, these are not tactics to get free stuff. This advice is to redress legitimate grievances. If you possess a larcenous heart, you deserve nothing—in abundance.
People don’t get up in the morning looking forward to messing with you. If you are friendly and reasonable, they will find ten reasons to help you out. If you have the same complaint but are rude and abusive, they can find 10,000 reasons to shut you down.
Thanks for your time.