"Some idiots will say to email the CEO, but if you're lucky, that will just get down to the lawyer, and the lawyer will already be miffed because you've piled more work on him from above. Better to go straight to the lawyer."
You think the CEO reads anything like a publicly-accessible email account? It all goes to "the right department" exclusively via some email-reading minion. You think emailing the CEO of Dell about a laptop return is going to make them go yell at a lawyer?
Apparent reading comprehension fail. I said to email the lawyer because if you email the CEO, it will only get to the lawyer if you're lucky.
Email the company at head office and it will end up at the person they deem right to deal with it. If you yell a lot it might go to their line manager. It won't get close to an expensive lawyer (or even legal department) until you get a court order at the very least.
The plural of anecdote is not data, but in my 10-15 experiences (probably closer to 30 if you count the experiences of the people I have individually counselled on how to deal with obstreperous customer service), it is extremely easy to get a lawyer's attention if you go about it correctly.
Welcome to the world of modern customer service, where "the boss" is the guy who was good at answering the phones last month, and you can never get hold of him anyway.
Right. Which is why you spend a bit of time doing that, document it well, and then go to the lawyer. Again, you are not trying to convince the lawyer that you are in the right. You are trying to convince the lawyer that you will be able to convince a judge or jury that you are in the right. Completely different things.
As someone who - in the past few months - has complained to Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (who demanded tax returns going back 6 years despite me not being required to file them any more), had their car insurance settle out of court after cancelling my contract - without notice - in breach of contract (and actually a shed-load of other laws), and have several companies referred to Trading Standards (some of which dragged on for months), I can tell you that not until there's a real, genuine threat of a lawsuit (i.e. a court paper coming through the post) will anyone even CLOSE to a legal professional get involved.
And I'm telling you that, in my considerable experience, you can convince them that (a) you are capable of managing the lawsuit; and (b) you are perfectly willing to do so -- without actually directly threatening.
The first guy is always useless. Their boss is usually useless. But in any organisation of a decent size, there are dozens of layers in between. If you're really lucky, you'll get a letter signed "on behalf of" (P.P.) a qualified lawyer by his legal secretary who signs a pile of similar papers every day, from those people who bother to complain enough that they probably have a genuine cause but it's just not worth chasing to court.
I have always either (a) gotten communication from the lawyer; or (b) just had the right thing happen (for example, several times I got no response, but a full refund on a credit card. Obviously YMMV.
People do not know how to complain.
And I'm trying to rectify that. You're helping to make my point for me. I have had a dozen positive outcomes after following the approach I outlined.
Of course, you address your letter to Head Office but if you think for a second that a corporate lawyer does more than flick the paper onto a pile for some underling to sort out, until an actual court-stamped paper comes to them, then you're sadly mistaken.
I didn't say to address a letter to "Head Office." I said to address it to a lawyer. The lawyer the company says is in charge of its legal stuff. An actual living, breathing, human being, who probably has some power and who also actually probably understands the risk/reward scenario you are presenting.
And, fuck email. In the UK - at least, I assume the US is similar - every company has to provide a postal address of their head office on demand. It's a legal requirement (and I've got a company fined for failing to do just that while I was complaining about something else).
But most lawyers have and use emails.
Emails go to an underling that sits in front of an inbox and spam folder all day. Letters are verifiable proof-of-receipt and instantly admissible in court and undeniable if you send by a recorded delivery.
If you actually hit the inbox of the lawyer, even if it's their underling sorting through the inbox, you have almost certainly given them notice. You are right that you might not be able to prove they received it, which is why you should end the email with the equivalent of "please respond so I don't have to send you a letter." That shows a knowledge of the process and (if you phrase the rest of the email properly) should also show a willingness to follow through. Seriously, for whatever reason your mileage differs from mine, I can tell you that email has worked for me when dealing with CompUSA (RIP), Fry's, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Wells Fargo, for a start. In all cases, my issue was resolved extremely quickly after the initial communication with the lawyer. In most cases it was all by email; in a few cases they actually telephoned me.
They also get more attention because every idiot can send an email to complaints@ or headoffice@ but not every idiot will bother to send you a letter stating in black and white that you are wrong and these are the facts as they know them.
So, are you agreeing with me, or did you have a reading comprension fail? I advocated against sending an email to a generic address.
And you have to READ THE DAMN THINGS. Emails you can scan for keywords and auto-reply from a standard template . Letters some git has to type up a reply to, print it out, address it and send it back to you.
Apparently emails are just like slashdot comments.
People just don't know how to complain any more.
Obviously, we disagree on the best method. But mine works for me, and is a lot less effort and stress all around than what you appear to be advocating.