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[ The PC Guide | The PC Buyer's Guide | Purchasing PCs and Components | Vendor and Order Problems and Solutions | Dealing With Difficult Vendors and Order Problems ]


An important first step in resolving a difficult issue with a vendor is simply keeping good documentation. While it may seem like a trivial matter, having your documentation in proper order will simplify any problem resolution attempts you make, and quite possibly speed them along in some cases.

First, keep all your written correspondence with the company organized and somewhere that you can find it. Receipts, invoices, order tracking papers, and anything else you receive from the firm should be kept in a folder. All electronic communications (email notices, letters from company employees) should similarly be stored. Also keep copies of anything you send to the company, physical or electronic.

Keep notes describing each interaction you have with the company on the phone. Get the name, title, phone number and extension of each employee you interact with (ask them for their information as soon as you start talking to them; if the call becomes confrontational they may not cooperate later on). Keep notes about roughly what you said on the call and what the employee said. Document any promises or assurances made by the employee. And of course, record the date and time of the call.

Taking these steps is a bit of work but can pay substantial dividends. For starters, you will find that it helps keep you focused on your goal; if you don't keep track of what happens as you deal with the company you may forget to follow up regularly and "keep on" the issue.

Even more importantly, these notes show the company you are dealing with that you are organized and someone who takes this matter seriously. Sometimes, a vendor in a dispute situation will try to push off a customer in the hopes that he or she will get fed up and drop the issue. When you can show that you are keeping track of what's going on in detail, they know you mean business and will treat you with more respect. (Suppose that you speak to a manager at the company, who asks you what the past history of the problem is. There's a big difference in your perceived credibility if, instead of saying "Uh, I spoke to someone last week", you say "I spoke to Mr. Jones, a customer service representative, last Wednesday at 4:00 pm, who told me this matter would be resolved by Friday". Imagine yourself as the manager: which would you take more seriously?)

Finally, the "paper trail" you keep will help you greatly if and when you get to the point of filing complaints or claims against the company. A credit card reversal is easier to justify if you can show a clear pattern of neglect on the part of the vendor, and consumer protection agencies will similarly find your documentation useful.

Next: Standing Up For Your Rights

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