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Friday, May 02 2014 03:00 PM

Calling all consumers: responding to unethical businesses

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    By Contributed photo

    Blair Looney, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau of Central California.

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BY BLAIR LOONEY Contributing columnist

Dear Action Line, Last week, I heard from a friend that there was a new plan offered through my cellular service provider that could lower my monthly payment. So, I decided to visit my cell provider to get more information on the plan.

I spoke to a sales representative and inquired about the new plan. The sales rep stated the new plan would also come with a new phone free of charge. This sounded like a great deal, so I switched to the new plan and received a new phone. I asked the sales rep if there were additional fees with the phone and was told I would only pay the taxes.

A few weeks, later I realized I was partially charged for the supposedly "free phone." Besides calling the business and requesting a refund, how else can I hold the business accountable and what else can I do?

 

Dear reader, Unethical behavior in business can affect employees, the company as a whole and stakeholders. It's good business to be ethical and respond to customer concerns.

First, do your homework and plan your action. If your complaint involves a contract, warranty or guarantee, read all the fine print that came with it.

The second rule is know your rights. Those are usually outlined in your contract or bill of sale. Know what you want as a resolution to the problem. Be clear in all your communications with the company about what you want to happen and your expectations.

Talk to the manager at the location you purchased the phone and explain your concern. If the problem is not resolved you should contact the headquarters of the company and inform a manager of your concern.

Most companies want satisfied customers. Listen to the company's side and possible resolutions; it could be better than what you are requesting.

If you believe you have given the company enough time to resolve the problem, you can file a complaint with your local Better Business Bureau by visiting bbb.org/central-california. BBB will act as a third party to help the consumer and business reach a satisfactory resolution of the problem.

You can file a consumer complaint with the Attorney General's office by visiting oag.ca.gov. By taking this step, your complaint can get to the government agency that directly regulates the business you have a complaint against.

And you can file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission by visiting ftc.gov. According to the FTC, consumer complaints can help it detect patterns of fraud and abuse.

-- Blair Looney is president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 1601 H St., Suite 101, Bakersfield, CA 93301 or info@cencal.bbb.org.

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