What to Do When Big Business Rips You Off!

Darwin suggested that the survival of a species depended on its degree of fitness. In today’s world of lose business morals, survival of your rights as a consumer often depends on the volume of your complaints.

There was a time when laying claim to a legitimate business gripe was a rather genteel sport. But in an age where every tenth of a profit point counts on Wall Street, getting a bank to reverse a charge, an airline to give a credit, a retailer to fix a problem, has become more of a blood sport. The simple truth is that corporate America today plays hardball. If you’re going to score a few points from Team Little People, you’re going to have to play a little hardball of your own.

In my parents’ day, there were such things as “complaint departments.” Today those flesh and blood people have been replaced by 1-800 numbers with virtual operators that are designed by many companies to send you off into caller hell. Want to speak to a life operator? Sorry, that person doesn’t work here anymore.

Government regulations are way down, and consumer rip-offs, not surprisingly, are way up. United States Congressional committees sit in wood paneled rooms and with great sobriety questioning oil company, banking, communication executives about “grave concerns.” After the hearings fade from the front page in a few days, it’s back to business as usual and the consumer, more or less, is back to her own resources.

So what can you do when the odds are stacked against you?

In this game, the fittest are the loudest. Here are five quick tips that will come in handy the next time you’re ready to wage consumer war:

 

 

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