MIAMI (CBSMiami) – One of the most maddening things you can deal with as a consumer is what to do when you have a complaint. Who do you turn to? It turns out there’s a growing industry that is making it much easier for consumers to finally get some action when they’ve been wronged.
The companies pledge to take the pain out of complaining.
For example, Neal Alderson had a pair of expensive sunglasses that broke in half. He requested a replacement pair from the manufacturer but got the runaround. So he posted his complaint on Gripevine for free.
Gripevine turned around and contacted the sunglasses maker for Alderson and not to long after that, Neal got some not so shady news.
“I got exactly what I wanted, which was a replacement pair of sunglasses,” Alderson said.
Gripevine and other consumer problem-solving companies like Scambook and Peopleclaim have taken the traditional complaint resolution avenues and accelerated them into the digital age.
Gripevine’s founder, Dave Carroll, became a YouTube sensation a few years ago when he posted a video about an airline he said damaged his guitar and refused to pay for it. After a million hits on his video, Carroll said the airline changed its mind.
“In the first two weeks I received 10,000 emails congratulating me,” Carroll said. “But also saying that they felt that they didn’t have a voice and they wished they had a voice.
But between sites like Carroll’s and social media, companies are taking a much harder look at angering customers in the digital age. Simply tweeting a company with a complaint is sometimes enough to get a resolution to your problem.
Some sites do the work for free, but others like Peopleclaim have turned it into a full-fledged money making business. PeopleClaim allows you to file a claim for free and the site will notify the company about your problem.
If the company doesn’t respond, a customer can pay $7.95 to have the dispute posted publicly online or for $14.95, PeopleClaim will also notify watchdogs, regulators, and the media with the problem.
Scambook also allows you to file a complaint for free. You can also pay $4.99 a month for a personal investigator to be assigned to your case. The investigator will mail certified letters to the company for you each month.
So do the sites get results?
Scambook said, “We have resolved over $10 million in reported damages.” PeopleClaim said, “Far more than half the complaints are resolved,” while Gripevine said ask any of its customers.
None of the companies provide mediators or legal services. Some of the dispute resolution companies said they know how to get your complaint through to key decision makers at companies and that posting it on their website will give it greater visibility.