Angie's List: Top Consumer Complaints

Telephone and Internet are utilities most of us can't live without. It's frustrating when your service isn't keeping up to speed with your busy life - dropped calls, spotty service and customer service issues can slow you down. The consumer review website, Angie's List, found that cell phone, landline and Internet providers were among the website's "Most Complained About Categories" list in 2011. However, all of the options out there put consumers in the driver's seat and no longer do you need to settle for bad service.

Here are some tips to help you get quality Internet and phone service:

  • Have the facts at your fingertips: Documentation is key in winning the complaint war. If there is an issue with your bill, have a copy of the bill in front of you. Also, record the name of the person you're speaking with and note the date and time you called. These details will increase your credibility if you need to follow up later. Finally, be prepared with what steps you would like the company to take to rectify the situation.
  • Act assertive, not angry: Starting out nasty will instantly put the other person on the defensive. A great opening line is to tell the company that you have a "problem" and are looking for help in how to solve it.
  • Always, always follow the Golden Rule: You should try to treat the company with respect, even in the way you explain your complaint. For example, if it appears a repair has not worked, rather than accusing the company of doing the job "wrong," let them know you're still having the same problem and are in need of their help. If a bill turns out to be higher than expected, ask for a detailed breakdown of the bill before you accuse them of wrongly charging.
  • Go to the top: If the person answering the phone is not responsive to your complaint, ask to speak to the company's consumer retention department. If you don't antagonize the person, they will be more inclined to refer you to the right higher-up. Another hint: Be sure to tell that person you will be sure to explain to the manager how well you've been treated.
  • Explain the consequences: If you're not getting a positive response, explain what will happen if you don't get action. If you have been a long time customer, let them know this and assert that they will no longer have your business. If you have referred others to them, point that out as well.
  • Scope out the competition: If you are looking around, be sure to keep an eye out for special promotions from competitors. If your provider can't match the competition's offer, don't hesitate to change companies. However, make sure to take into account the price of any new equipment you might need to install. Be prepared to end your service if you can't get the service you deserve.