How To

5 Times You Should Have Asked a Company for More

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Sometimes, customers let a company get away with murder — figuratively speaking.

When something goes wrong, they take the first offer, whether it’s a voucher for a future hotel stay, a refurbished product, or an empty apology.

You should almost never take the first offer.

Last week I introduced you to the term “gimme pig.” But there’s an opposite problem that affects far more consumers. I call it “aw, shucks” syndrome. As in, “aw, shucks, I don’t deserve anything.”

But sometimes, you do.

Here are five times when you should ask for more than you’ve received:

1. When a company isn’t being fair

If two customers with the identical problem are offered different resolutions, then you have a right to ask the company to be equitable. I sometimes deal with travelers who are turned away from a hotel because it’s overbooked. One person will be offered nothing more than a refund, while another will be given a room at another property. The one left high and dry should not be content with the initial offer, especially when it’s obvious the company isn’t being even-handed.

2. When the contract or terms say you deserve more

I encounter this problem constantly when I deal with airline passengers. The company wants to offer a voucher or lesser compensation for a customer-service problem when, in fact, its own contract (called a “contract of carriage”) promises more. Reading the contract is almost always enough to ensure the company does the right thing.

3. When the law says otherwise

You don’t have to be a lawyer to know that when you say, “there ought to be a law” there probably is a law somewhere on the books. A simple online search can reveal state or federal consumer law that applies to your situation, such as a state’s lemon law for new cars. When you’ve found that your company isn’t following the law, you should tell it – nicely.

4. When you feel completely ripped off and are ready to walk away

Customers often know in their gut when they’ve been taken advantage of. The polite ones often hold that feeling inside and just decide to go to a competitor the next time. But why not give a business the chance to make things right?

5. When they promised you something else

And that promise would preferably be in writing, but it doesn’t have to be. If a representative said: “We’ll trade out those defective tires for free” or, “We’ll replace the faulty switch on your new blender” then you have every right to hold the company to its promises. And you should.

Bottom line: Don’t be a pushover. Stand up for what you deserve.

Christopher Elliott is a consumer advocate who blogs about getting better customer service at On Your Side. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook or send him your questions by email.