Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Phone It In: Making Complaint Calls When Things Don't Work

When Ranger came home from the hospital, my parents had a new car waiting for him. They had bought Ranger a new, bright yellow and red Little Tikes' Cozy Coupe II (Son of Cozy Coupe?) for Easter, but we had left it unassembled in its box.

Dad, an engineer, had assembled it while we were at the hospital. Ranger was playing in it for about 4 minutes before he pulled the steering wheel loose (and then cried). Jim and I worked to get the steering wheel assembly in well, but to no avail. We could get the steering wheel to stay in as long as no one tried to turn it. Everyone, included Ranger, ended up pretty frustrated.

After a few days of finding the steering wheel parts and returning them to the car, Jim and I started discussing hacks to fix the design problem. After we struck upon one that might have actually worked, we thought to call the company first.

I called Little Tikes' consumer number (1-800-321-0183) and selected the "order replacement parts option" to get to speak with a human being. The customer service representative was aware of the problem (apparently some of the steering wheels' holes were drilled too small) and sent us at no cost a new steering wheel assembly in 2 days.

We also had success resolving our Diaper Champ problems by calling about the heinous smell. Earth's Best Baby Food sent us innumerable coupons in addition to replacement coupons when we found some of their baby food we'd purchased had been recalled.

If you have a problem with a product, call the manufacturer before you condemn the item to the rubbish pile. We've been quite satisfied each time we've called for assistance.

Jim offers these tips:
  1. Describe your problem thoroughly.
  2. Details help. If you have your purchase date or the approximate date you first noticed the problem that may help. Have this kind of info in mind when you call.
  3. Be nice. The customer service person isn't the one who manufactured this problem, and they are one of your few outlets for recourse. Stick with "I statements" rather than "you" statements. Say "frustrated" instead of "angry enough to tear out your still-beating heart," etc.
  4. Have a solution in mind. If this problem is new to them, they may not know what course to take. If you most want a refund or a replacement, tell them that.
  5. Even if you caused the damage- call about replacement parts if the item may still be salvageable. Repairs are often much cheaper than total replacement. Plus, repairs can extend the life of goods and keep useful items out of the landfill.
Call now (or between 8 & 5 Eastern Time)- operators are standing by...

photo credit: babytoolkit.blogspot.com, 2007

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