Complaining about service when things get really bad (2). See yesterday’s posting

Still no favorable resolution? Fortunately, there are third-party programs that can help.

If you paid with a credit card, the federal Fair Credit Billing Act and the policies of credit card issuers help you withhold payment for goods and services you think  are defective or not delivered as promised. If you cannot resolve the matter with the service provider, contact your credit card bank to dispute the charge (you usually can do this even if you’ve already paid the bill). Once you’ve requested this “chargeback,” your credit card bank will place a hold on the disputed charge and investigate. The service provider can protest the chargeback, but sellers rarely successfully reverse chargebacks if the customer has returned (or tried to return) the goods or can document the service defect.

Another option in the united States is to file a complaint with the local government consumer agency. These consumer protection offices have legal authority over many types of businesses, and should refer matters it can’t handle to a more appropriate state or a federal agency. The matter might be resolved via phone or email, but these offices may also perform inspections, gather evidence from third parties, do legal or technical research, or mediate the dispute. Staff might do more than resolve your complaint; they might get the supplier to agree to change it’s business practices or even force the business to pay penalties.

The Better Business Bureau can also  help, but government agencies have the force of law behind them. The government can conduct formal investigations and use law enforcement tools to obtain the facts that will help them negotiate a settlement on your behalf. even pursuing legal action if evidence shows the merchant has violated the law.  There are also private-sector mediators who can help you and the business come to a resolution, although such mediation may be of little value with businesses that have no incentive or desire to work out a settlement.

The last resort is to bring an action in small claims court. Most courts have legal advisers to help you prepare your case. But the Epicurean way is always to negotiate a resolution quietly and politely, if you can.  

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