Life Event Guides: Other Situations
What can I do to resolve a consumer complaint?
You should first approach the seller of the item. Then, get in touch with the relevant consumer agency. If neither of the previous provides adequate results, a lawsuit can be filed or you may use arbitration.
Approach the Seller
- Compile all necessary evidence such as canceled checks, receipt, photographs showing the issue, a warranty, bill of sale or contract.
- Determine your goal. Would you like the product replaced? Would you like a refund? Are you just looking for an apology?
- Schedule a meeting with the manager, customer service representative or other appropriate person by calling the store or service provider. In this meeting with the individual, describe as clearly as possible the nature of the issue and what your goal is. If you can only speak by phone, write a letter as follow-up and keep detailed notes of the dates and with whom you spoke with. It is important to note that if there is a valid warranty for the product, it is best to follow-up with the manufacturer and not the merchant.
- Take the issue to a higher level, if this doesn’t find a solution. This could be the corporate president or supervisor. At this point, you should put your complaint in writing if you have yet to do so. This letter should detail your name, phone numbers, address, and account number (if applicable). Include the date and place of purchase as well as the model and serial number if a product is involved. Concisely describe the issue at hand and the process you have gone through so far to reach a solution. Lastly, you should include what outcome you want and state a deadline for this outcome. Keep a copy of the letter for yourself and include relevant copies of documents. Make sure you keep the originals and retain copies of any correspondence you receive from the company.
Get in touch with an agency
If your desired goal has yet to be reached, you will want to look in the phone book or online for a consumer complaint agency, such as the county, city or state consumer protection office or the Better Business Bureau.
Another option is to go with the trade association method. There are industry trade associations that will offer to aid in mediating issues with regards to their members.
You may want to get in touch with the appropriate state-banking regulator if your issue deals with a bank. If an insurer is involved, you will want to get in touch with the state insurance regulator, for a securities problem contact the securities regulator or for utilities problems contact the public utilities commission.
Call the state-licensing department if you the issue deals with a state-licensed trade, such as a plumber.
Research the lemon laws of your state, unless you reside in Arkansas or South Dakota, by getting in touch with your state consumer protections agency in the event that you purchased a bad used car.
Get in contact with your area postal inspector, whose information can be located in the U.S. government section of the telephone book, for issues that pertain to mail order or mail fraud.
Look into finding a local television news program hotline for resolving consumer complaints.
Filing a lawsuit
When there are no more options, you will want to file a court case in either small claims court, if the amount is small (usually less than $5000) or if not, a regular lawsuit.
More than likely speaking with an attorney and having them draft a letter to the merchant or service provider giving the details about the lawsuit will resolve the issue.
You probably won’t need to hire a lawyer if a small claims case is involved. If the case is bigger than small claims, you will want to hire a lawyer.
What can I do to reduce my bank fees?
The following are a few ways to lessen your bank fees:
- Look into what is necessary to get free checking and free ATM usage and do it. This is typically done by having a minimum balance and only using your bank’s ATMs. Another thought is joining a credit union instead of a bank as they generally charge less for banking services.
- Investigate how to invest in higher interest accounts. Determine how much money you would need in case of an emergency and roughly six months’ worth of expenses and keep that amount in your savings. Take the rest of your money and make it work for you.
- Don’t order checks through your bank. Generally speaking, check printers charge less than the printers employed by the bank.
What can I do to save money on my insurance costs?
These tips will help you save on all types of insurance:
- Shop around for your life insurance policy. Take the time it takes to periodically check the prices on different policies, as it will pay off in the end. If you have recently quit smoking, you will probably be able to get better rates in a few years.
- Evaluate your needs in terms of life insurance to see whether you are being charged too much for coverage.
- Use the same insurer for home and auto insurance, as you will more than likely get a break.
- Look around for auto insurance to find the best possible rate.
- Save on your homeowner’s insurance by installing burglar alarms, smoke detectors and sprinkler systems. Consult an insurance agent to learn more.
- Do away with private mortgage insurance. Ask your lender to cancel this as soon as you have enough equity in the home (this is required by law).
What can I do to cut my utility costs?
These are a few tips to remember to help save money with utility costs:
- See if your utility has a subsidizing program to make your home more energy-efficient. If that turns up nothing, you can still caulk your windows and check the insulation to make sure it has a high enough “R” factor.
- Use fluorescent lights instead of incandescent bulbs for lights that are constantly on.
- Maintain the thermostat at the highest and lowest temperature for comfort in the summer and winter, respectively.
What can I do to reduce the cost of my phone bill?
There are many opportunities due to today’s cost-cutting competition among phone service providers, such as:
- Verify that your long-distance charges are competitively priced. Research which long-distance carrier will give you the best rate and switch if you are not with that carrier.
- Use the phone book instead of dialing “Information.”
- If you have children at home, block all “900” numbers.
- Stay in touch with relatives and friends through e-mail.
What can I do to reduce the cost of my mortgage?
The options that follow will help in reducing the cost of your mortgage:
- Think about paying down your mortgage. This is an effective way for saving and raising net worth for many people. Make a decision to pay a specific amount more than the mortgage principal and faithfully stick to it.
- Think about refinancing your mortgage. Determine if refinancing your mortgage will save you money. Calculate to see if the costs for refinancing are worth a reduction in your monthly payments. If you intend to remain in the house for at least five years, the common guideline is that at least two points reduction will make it worthwhile to refinance.