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Know more about Consumer Rights

By Jakki Bendell

Jakki Bendell is a business trainer and coach, and has helped hundreds of people write more effectively. Her qualifications include an MBA from Manchester Business School, a Certificate in Coaching and a Certificate in Training Practice. She is an Associate member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development.


Jakki lives with her husband in East London, and in her spare time writes a website, http://www.better-writing-tips.com/ she loves camping, hiking, travelling and scuba diving. Also enjoys going to music festivals, art galleries and meeting people.

Consumer Forum

An online assessment of Consumer Complaints

If you feel cheated after purchasing a defective product or deficient service and are planning to go to the Consumer Court, know that instead of approaching the consumer courts directly, it is more effective to file a complaint with an Online Consumer Forum. Now, what basically Consumer Forum is? An Online Consumer Forum is for posting online consumer complaints against products and services of various companies. It is particularly an online consumer complaint website where a consumer can complain or query regarding the products and services of the different companies and the products can be related to any category. In this process the customer has to fill up an online complaint form mentioning a brief detail regarding the query or complaint to be made and for or against which company. Then the team of experts will look into the complaint and advises the legal action or step to be taken. This process not only saves enough time but also make people aware of many legal things and consumer rights which people are not aware of.

Every government of every country has given certain rights to each and every person and if these rights are not protected than the consumer can go for lodging a complaint against the respective organization or person. Many of the companies related to any of the services or products fool the customers by sometimes providing the expired or outdated products to them or sometimes providing inappropriate services or sometimes selling the products at a higher cost and many a times by the hidden terms and conditions.

Many of the consumers living in villages or on the threshold of the cities don't know their rights and even don't know how to lodge a complaint. But the increasing awareness regarding Consumer Form made the consumers to complaint against such forge companies.

For this the consumer has to fill up a complaint letter on Consumer Forum Website online. This website teaches people their rights and educates customers how to take action against the Fraud firms. The main objective of the consumer forum is to increase awareness among the people regarding the forge things. The second objective of the forum is to provide fast and online support to the consumers so that they can get an easy solution online only. Third Objective is to sort out the unregistered companies and Firms so that people may also know that which company to be preferred which to be not. A complaint letter is a legal way of lodging a complaint.

Consumer Forum provides the legal options to the customers if the customers go for the legal advice than the person or the organization against which the complaint has been made are punishable under law. This illegal or forged action done by them is considered as a criminal offence by the Forum as well as by the Consumer Court.

Apart from Consumer Forum, customer should also remain aware and self update when investing in any product. For this he needs to follow some steps:

- First of all whenever you are buying any product, be sure that the company which you prefer should be a registered company.

- Check the expiry date of the product (if applicable).

- Check all the terms and conditions before investing in any financial firm.

- Take the help of the internet to check the background of the company i.e. When it was launched, what other products it offer, whether any complaints against it or not.

These steps will surely increase your awareness and make you choose the right thing always.


Writing a Complaint Letter

5 Tips to Help You Get Your Complaint Noticed

Life today can be full of frustrations and annoyances. Your car gets clamped when you were only away for a few minutes. The 'peaceful, ocean view' hotel room you booked actually overlooks a busy nightclub. Or perhaps it's more serious - a dental procedure goes wrong, or you find your pension is worth a fraction of what you expected.

To make matters worse, when you call the organization to complain you get nowhere. The call handler says there's nothing they can do. You can't speak to the manager because she's on leave. They suggest you call back next week. When you do, they have no record of your complaint. Meanwhile your blood pressure continues to rise...sound familiar? It's time to put your complaint in writing. 

There are many reasons people complain - to get compensation, to vent their anger, or to be helpful. What? How is complaining helpful? Well, many companies spend thousands of pounds on market research, to find out what customers want and how they are doing compared to the competition. If you complain, you are effectively offering them free market research. It enables them to change their product or service to meet their customers' needs, which is ultimately what keeps them in business. Think of your complaint as a gift. 

Of course, not all organizations see it that way... 

So, how do you ensure that your 'gift' doesn't get brushed off or ignored? Here are five tips that will help you get your letter noticed and understood. 

1. Prepare 

Start by writing down the points you want to make - not necessarily in order just yet. These will be your paragraphs. 

Then put the paragraphs into a logical sequence. This can be chronological, but order of importance often works better as it grabs the reader's attention. Always start with a brief sentence explaining the purpose of your letter (I am writing to make a complaint about the quality of your product/service). Finish with the action you expect, including timescales if appropriate (Please send me a full refund and a written apology by 21 October). 

2. Be Concise 

Get to the point quickly and avoid repetition. If you are rambling on for twenty pages you'll come across as an old windbag, and you almost certainly won't get what you want. 

Also keep your sentences and paragraphs short. Your aim is to get the reader to understand your message in one reading. Sentences over 20 words and paragraphs more then 10 lines will dilute your message. 

Concise doesn't necessarily mean brief. You may need to give factual details to support your complaint. Just make sure they are relevant, accurate and placed in the appropriate paragraph. Avoid the 'Oh, and one more thing...' syndrome in your letter. 

3. Be Clear 

Write in plain English that most people will understand. Avoid jargon, slang, legal words and formal words like 'hereunto' and 'circumvent'. Imagine you are talking to your reader face to face. Do the words sound odd in the context of a conversation? For example, we might write 'I request that my policy is terminated forthwith' but 'please close my policy immediately' is much more effective. 

The free guides on the Plain English Campaign website are useful here, especially the A-Z of Alternative Words. 

4. Be Polite 

It's tempting to be sarcastic, insulting or witty when you are angry, but it's unlikely to help you get your message across. What it will do is alienate your reader, and make it more difficult for them to respond positively to your letter. 

By all means state that you are angry or upset, but always be respectful and polite, even if you feel they haven't shown you the same courtesy. You give up the moral high ground when you use insults, and that will weaken your case. 

5. Be Accurate 

When you have finished, print out and read your letter. Ideally get someone else to read it as well. First check that what you've written actually makes sense, and that the facts (names, dates, and numbers) are correct. Then go back and check your layout, grammar, spelling and punctuation. Don't rely on spellchecker or grammar checker to do this for you - common mistakes are writing 'there' instead of 'their', or 'affect' instead of 'effect', which won't be picked up by editing tools. 

Finally, put your letter in a stamped, addressed envelope and post it. Can't you just email it? Yes, but it is much more likely to be acted on if you send it through the post. Most companies are still organized to handle letters, and the fact that you've invested in a stamp shows you are serious. If you want, send it by email and post. 

So there you have it - five top tips for getting your complaint recognized and acted on. Good luck!

Advice From The Experts

Consumer RIghts

Having taught business management, marketing and customer service for many years I decided to write a short article the rights of the customer and how a dissatisfied customer should go about making a complaint. To read more articles about problem solving please visit our website at ITS Tutorial School - "A guide to problem solving"

A customer has the following rights.
- To find out information about a product
- To choose a product
- To buy a product
- To get value for money
- To be satisfied and well looked after once the product has been purchased.

If as a customer you are dissatisfied here is a simple list of actions you can take.

Making a Complaint

1. Complain to the supplier of the goods or service as soon as possible. Always give the supplier the opportunity to put the matter right first. Bear in mind that if you leave your complaint for too long you may lose some of your legal rights.

2. Make sure you take any receipt or proof of purchase with you. Don't part with this - in case you need it later.

Making a Complaint

3. If the supplier is some distance away, or if you get no satisfaction after calling in person, then you will need to put your complaint in writing. It's a good idea to ring the organization and to get the name of their customer services manager so you can send the letter to that specific person.

4. Keep your letter short and to the point. In the first paragraph stat when and where you bought the goods or service. In the second, state what has gone wrong clearly and unemotionally? If you hav already vicited the firm without any success, say when and where you called, the name of the person to whom you spoke and the outcome. In the last paragraph state what you want done and set a realistic deadline.


5. Keep copies of all correspondence. If the company telephones you, make a note of what they said and the date.

At this stage the problem usually solved. Remember that you don't have to accept the first offer you recieve. If you feel it is a poor one

Continuation

If you are getting nowhere then get expert advice. This could include expert opinion on the problem (e.g. by asking another trader to put their views in writing), by contacting your local trading standards department or another source of help and advice.

It is worth noting that increasing number of business now publish a customer charter. The purpose of such charters is to:

- Publish standards of service
- Continually improve customer service standards
- Ensure all customers are treated equally and fairly
- Ensure all customers know how to complain.

This is a trend you can help encourage by asking businesses you deal with and if they have one. If the answer is no. Ask why not?

Better customer service is better for all of us.

Letter Sample

This is a proven example that worked for me!

J Bendell
52 Caledonian Road, Manchester, M11 7RP

5 May 2010

The Manager
Hokey Kokey Travel Insurance
11B Victoria Street
Manchester
M3 7PL

Your reference: 3712/139/PB1

Dear Sir or Madam

Policy number: 1278645-YH


I am writing to complain about the above policy, on the grounds that the wording is misleading.

I sent you a claim form for non-refundable hotel costs incurred when my flight to Munich was cancelled by the airline, EasyAir, on 18 July 2010. Yesterday I received a letter from you informing me that my claim had been rejected. The reason given was that the policy only insures me for cancellation if I have to cancel my flight due to illness or redundancy.

The wording on the policy document (page 3) states:

“We will indemnify you for

1. unused charges associated with your trip that are not refundable and which were incurred before your departure date if you have to cancel your trip; and
2. the cost of a one way airfare if you have to cancel your trip due to illness …or redundancy.”

Illness and redundancy are only mentioned in paragraph two, which refers exclusively to the airfare. I am not claiming for the cost of the airfare, so these conditions are irrelevant. Non-refundable hotel charges that I incurred due to flight cancellation should be covered under any reasonable interpretation of paragraph one unless specifically excluded, which they are not.

Under these circumstances I want you to:
1. Reimburse my claim for hotel expenses.
2. Change the wording in section B of the Policy document so that it is does not mislead prospective customers.

I look forward to your swift response.
Yours faithfully

J Bendell 

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