We’ve all been there. We make a purchase, only to find out that the item is defective. Or, the merchandise that we order never arrives. At times, the product isn’t the problem. Instead, really horrible service ruins a long-anticipated celebration. What’s the next step?

A lot of times, we are so upset that we think, “Oh, just forget it. It’s not worth complaining about!” Other times, our wrath takes control and we’re tempted to fire off a letter, laden with expletives or threats.

Either way, we’re likely to not get a satisfactory resolution. Here are some tips to getting the matter fixed.

Take a Deep Breath… or Two

While you’re reminding yourself to breathe, go ahead and vent with a trusted, non-judgmental friend. The empathy you’ll get can help ground you and put the situation into a clearer perspective.

Don’t pick up the phone or start writing – yet! You still have some work to do first.

Sit Down and Write Out the Details

Write down the place, time, situation and any people who were involved. Try using the old journalism format – who, what, when, where – and write objectively, in the third person, as if you were reporting for someone else.

Then, let the above-mentioned friend read your account. Ask them to use the same unbiased view and give you feedback.

Decide What You Want to Make the Situation Right

In order for your request to be granted, it needs to be:

  • Stated in a calm way
  • Realistic

It’s not likely that your screamed demand for the restaurant staff to be fired is going to be honored. Besides, you will come across as a b****.

What might work is quietly negotiating a refund for the meal with the manager. You don’t have to burn a bridge with an establishment you might otherwise want to patronize in the future.

Work on the Solution With a Person in Authority

You’re more likely to get cooperation from a supervisor than from a nervous staffer who only knows the parameters of their specific job.

This is where your written description of the situation comes in handy, especially if it contains names of people involved (servers, online or telephone sales staff, etc.)

If You Get Push Back, Climb the Ladder

Even in this Yelp-conscious business climate, there are still people who simply don’t care. If you come across someone like this, it’s okay to take their name and escalate.

Sometimes, you’ll find this information out easily. In other cases, you’ll have to do some digging outside the company.

If the person digging in his or her heels is the boss, turning to your local Better Business Bureau can be an option.

Once You’ve Registered Your Complaint, Keep Records of Any Emails or Calls

If you are told that “someone will get back to you,” keep the details of your last contact (date, time, person spoken with). This is especially important if you end up not getting follow-up within a promised time frame.

The bottom line: don’t trust that everyone will do his or her job.

Do Your Homework for Your Next Purchase and Hold People Accountable

Yelp.com has become a wonderful tool for researching goods and services. Reviews, positive and negative, cannot be influenced by businesses, even those who are paying for listings. This is truly “power of the people” in action!

Stop Being So Darn Nice All the Time

Even in 2016, women can be handicapped by their “be nice” upbringing. Some women balk at “getting someone in trouble,” even if it means paying the price for shoddy or dishonest business practices.

On the other hand, saying something nice can help a good business to do even better. It’s not just about saying negative things. It’s about helping people who deserve it too.

Your voice matters. If enough of us speak up, we can influence the way a business – or a whole industry – treats its consumers.

When was the last time that you received bad service or a broken product? What did you do about it? Do you agree that we all have a responsibility to keep companies honest and consumer friendly? Please join the conversation.

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