Friday, February 23, 2007

Appealing to a Higher Shopping Power: Call the Manager

During a recent shopping trip for work supplies, a sales clerk initially challenged my right to use a professional discount. His argument: 1) I had to apply online first, 2) It would take a few weeks for my discount card to arrive and 3) I should buy the merchandise at full price and then apply for a refund later.

My argument: Thanks and where's the manager?

Conclusion: I found the manager. He handled my online application for the professional discount, printed out my enrollment form and in less than three minutes, I had my discount papers.

Lesson: Be polite. But appeal to higher powers -- managers and supervisors-- when the initial customer service staff fails to address your issues. I've used the art of polite complaints when dealing with utility companies, hotel staff and retail stores.

We must find "The Yes" person, according to The Complete Idiot's Guide to Winning Through Negotiation by John Ilich.

"Most employees lack the authority to give you the satisfaction [for dealing with a store-related problem]....Insist on dealing directly with the "yes" person --usually a store manager or owner.-- The Complete Idiot's Guide to Winning Through Negotiation .

Rules of Engagement:

1. I try not to be overbearing. If I use a loud voice or broad gestures, I could come off as a "crank or crackpot," according to Winning Through Negotiation.

2. Make sure the manager knows that you are a loyal customer.

3. Clearly and calmly provide a time line of your purchase and problems.

4. Layout the paper trail.

5. Make a request: Sometimes I just want my money back, a replacement item or a rain check. Sometimes, I just want the advertised discount or a resolution of the conflict.

6. Get the manager's name.

My Best Frugal Friend Melisa Neuman also has an excellent strategy for resolving customer conflicts. Here's the link.


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