The Real Reason the Customer is Always Right

buyer_bewareYou’ve done everything right. Set your budget- and stuck to it. But- what if you spent money and didn’t get what you wanted or expected in return?

The customer is always right, right? Beyond that, the customer has support should something go awry in their purchase of a product or service.

Unfortunately, there are vendors out there that are not completely on the level. If you’ve fallen prey to one of them, and experienced consumer hardship (ranging from disappointment, to criminal behaviour), know that your hard-earned dollars don’t have to disappear. Consumers do have power, and there is help available.

Make a Smart Buy

Aim to avoid problems before they even arise by thoroughly vetting the person or company you are thinking of purchasing a product or service from before you buy.

Don’t be shy. Ask for references, work samples or check if any complaints have been lodged through official agencies.

And be warned- if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Businesses exist to make money- and you need to may sure that your expectations match what they intend to produce for you or sell to you.

Consumer Resources

A good resource is sites like this (depending on where you live). This is the Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services (other provinces and territories have similar info available for their respective areas). You can find out about a broad spectrum of consumer services, including consumer alerts for specific vendors, gift card scams and cancelling a contract.  Consumers can become aware of their rights under the Consumer Protection Act.

Before signing a major contract, it’s always a good idea to check with your local Chamber of Commerce or with the local chapter of the Better Business Bureau to determine if the vendor in question is worthy of your business. Multiple complaints? Go somewhere else.

Look for Flags

Back to your potential vendor. Is there a no-return policy?  Why is that? Are you purchasing deeply discounted or as/is items (which is common). However, shifty vendors looking to make a quick buck may also adopt the same method. Maybe this establishment doesn’t deserve your money!

Where do I go for Help?

Maybe you made a rash decision when you purchased, and didn’t have time to do all the research. Maybe despite your best efforts, you were stung by shady vendor.

What’s a disgruntled consumer to do? There is recourse.

First, you should call the company to voice your complaint. If that doesn’t resolve it, the next step is to put your complaint in writing with specific details, dates, events, monetary amounts, etc.  The key here is that you are documenting things.

The letter needs to clearly state what happened and why you are disgruntled. You also need to clearly state what it is you seek in return (money back, alternative service, etc.).

You can reach out to your Better Business Bureau or to your Provincial regulator of Consumer Affairs to officially lodge a complaint. Consumers that have been left high and dry have to realize that, in doing so, they aren’t “complaining”- but hopefully helping others in the future from experiencing the same fate.

If none of these options gets you where you need to be, Small Claims Court may be your next stop. Processes and procedure vary province to province, so you are best to check in with local info.

Bottom line: guard your dollars. You earned them. Buyer Beware.