Consumer advice1- Are you dealing with a reputable company? If you've dealt with scam artists don't do it again.
2- Is your complaint legitimate? Look at other problems on the internet. If the problem is largely your fault, own up to it and don't clog the system for people with serious cases
3- Do you have good records? Have as many records as possible. Disclose only what's absolutely necessary.
4- Calling (or e-mailing) consumer services. Don't be deceived by the name. "Consumer extortion" is closer to the truth. These are not human services people; these are sales people trained to get the most out of you, "sharks" if you will. You begin with a small shark (an inexperienced salesperson) and are passed to increasingly larger sharks. You encounter human services people only at corporate headquarters (and sometimes not even then).
5- Do you need to be assertive? These people go for the jugular. If you're not prepared to go for the jugular don't even bother.
6- Why are they so concerned about my privacy? They want to gang up on you. Insist that all communication be public. This reduces intimidation. If you have a good case, advertise it. If the company already has a bad rep, find a "niche complaint market". Shop till you find a "niche market" where the case darkens their reputation. Be ruthless!
7- Should I involve the better business bureau? Absolutely! The better business bureau has an ethics code which the company is obliged to be follow even if against their instincts. How to contact BBB.
8- Should I talk to people on the phone? Not if you can avoid it. You'll only get sales pitches. Whatever you do, don't agree to anything unless it's in writing.
9- What advantages do you have? Complaints are expensive. If your case is good and involves little money, help them spend maximum time and resources. If they're sensible they'll drop your case for more profitable cases. You have more time and intellectual involvement than they do. To them, your case is one of many; they'll know only company policy and what's in the computer. Don't give them info they might use against you.
10- What advantages do they have? Power, money and knowledge of their business sector. Since you know little about their business, go slowly and get as much advice as possible.
11- Don't settle until you get to competent human services people. Get things in writing!
12- Be polite! These people are only carrying out company policy, however odious. Creating bad will can only hurt your case.
Past cases:Bank of America - Corporate headquarters was more than fair (once I got there).
Priceline - These people are hardball sales even at headquarters. They were itching to screw me, but they'd been tossed out of BBB and were trying to get back in. Without BBB I'd have been in court. Hint - get things in writing; they bait and switch. Read my Priceline story.