Frustrated customers will find something helpful in ‘The Consumer Playbook’

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We’ve all experienced a customer service headache or two. How could that situation have been approached so that you got what you wanted faster?
Main Line area resident Mauree Miller, who has worked as a psychologist and written columns for the online version of “Colliers,” has just about seen it all. She shares her stories about, and solutions to, dealing with customer service roadblocks in her book “The Consumer Playbook.”
You’ll laugh out of recognition for her real-life, frustrating situations — deceptive promotions, returns, refunds, repairs, cellphone data plans, car repairs, banks and challenges of the health care system — and realize that it isn’t just you who gets a run-around. More importantly, “The Consumer Playbook” gives ample pearls of wisdom to shop smarter, and comes up with strategies ahead of time for getting customer service issues resolved.
For instance, ever had a problem with a rebate card? “The Consumer Playbook” counsels you to keep a written record of the rebate, and remind yourself to follow up with the company if you haven’t received it in six to eight weeks. Do not treat a rebate card like a gift card, the book says. If the card gets declined, don’t be afraid to contact the issuing company. You might not be the first one who’s had this problem. A point that Miller drives home again and again is there is always a higher manager or supervisor to ask for.
Sometimes a little negotiating goes a long way. Have a logical argument why that price is unfair, Miller advises. As one of the chapter titles states: “Ask and You Shall Receive — Most of the Time.”
And believe it or not, those service surveys are worth doing because speaking up can, and does, lead to change for the better, according to Miller.
What about inconveniences from mom-and-pop businesses? Apparently there are even ways of getting around being stonewalled at that level too.
If it sounds like Miller is one of those exceptionally persistent people that doesn’t take no for an answer, she is. There are times when you find yourself feeling sorry for that poor cashier just trying to do their job who unwittingly ends up on the receiving end of haggling with the author and her barbed wit. Or the unlucky customer service representative that fielded a call from Miller complaining that she somehow managed to cut her thumb opening a jar of peanut butter.
However, the consumer crusader writes, “You have to decide how far you can go and how to choose your battles,” and “My preference and general style is to create positive relationships with contacts. Most of the time it works, but once in a while it doesn’t.”
Visit www.consumerplaybook.com.

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  1. Mauree has extensive experience in reviewing poor service and suggests alternative approaches to provide a win-win scenario between the seller and the receiver of services. She uses common sense if available. If not she aims higher within the organization to find a reasonable arbitrator. Her approach will ultimately find a successful solution. Her tenacity to bring a successful transaction to fore is outstanding. Her instructions can help anyone who want to think through the negotiating process. A must read.

  2. Terrific guide to deal with the wild curve balls thrown our way. I think i have found a great holiday gift for about 50 of my closest friends. john

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