How to Protest and Complain to Receive a Refund

Two Methods:Sample Letters of ComplaintProtesting and Complaining to Receive Your Own Refund

Didn't get the product or service you wanted? By approaching the matter maturely and methodically (rather than kicking and screaming) you can increase your chances of receiving fair treatment.

Sample Letters of Complaint

Sample Protest Letter to Manager

Sample Protest Letter to Corporate Office

Sample Protest Letter About Shipment

Protesting and Complaining to Receive Your Own Refund

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    Stay calm. The most important thing you can do is to stay calm. Taking on the persona of a loud, irate jerk who verbally abuses the customer service representative and makes other customers feel uncomfortable never helps and is likely to make your situation worse. Even worse than getting poor customer service is getting arrested for harassment or disorderly conduct.
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    Be sure you have a case. Know the business's policies and/or the law that surrounds the issue about which you want to complain. If you don't have a solid basis for your complaint, then you are asking for special consideration -- which you may or may not receive, depending on the business and your value as a client.
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    Speak with a decision-maker. Most front-line customer service representatives have very little decision-making power so it would be best to summarize the situation and discover whether or not the person you're talking to can help meet your goals. It is almost always preferable to speak with a supervisor (who are trained to resolve larger issues) and is doubly beneficial to the customer service representative who needs to keep his/her call time to a minimum.
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    Write down your goal. This should be something well-defined: "replacement cushions" or "partial credit" or whatever. If your goal includes "revenge" you have officially made yourself a loser. Take a few deep breaths and calm down, or you'll quickly be classified with the "nutballs" who have an axe to grind and your (legitimate) grievance will be dismissed.
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    Come prepared. Bring your product brochure or the store's customer-service policy with highlighted points on it. It undermines your case completely for the business to point out a written requirement that you didn't notice or comply with. If it's a legal issue, look up the pertinent statutes using your favorite search engine and print them out. Find a telephone number for the business's regional or corporate headquarters, just in case you need it.
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    State the problem clearly. Your new clock radio is so bright it keeps you awake at night. Your toaster burns your pop-tarts even on the lowest setting. You bought a trampoline and when you opened the box, not all the parts were included (be prepared to state which parts are missing).
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    Communicate your goal. If what you want is a replacement, state this clearly. If what you want is a refund, make this clear. The business cannot satisfy you if you do not know what type of relief you expect.
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    Explain your situation simply, without embellishment. Tell them how much you shop at the store and about any rude or unreasonable personnel you've encountered.
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    Give the business three chances to correct the problem at the store level. This usually follows a chain of command: Customer Service (or cashier), Service Manager (or supervisor), Store Manager. Important: write down the first and last name of every person you speak to -- ask if the name is not on the employee's badge.
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    No matter how frustrated you feel, never yell at cashiers. Most times they are the lowest paid and most stressed employees in the store because they are the first to hear complaints and generally the least able to resolve them. Yelling at them will do two things 1) make them NOT want to help you 2) show the manager that you are a jerk and make him or her not want to help you either.
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    If the complaint cannot be resolved at the store level, take it to a higher level. Calmly tell the store manager that you will resolve the situation with Corporate and find the nearest phone. If you have a cellphone, stand just outside of the store to place your call. As above, explain your situation without embellishment. You will be given instructions about what to do next -- email a certain person, send a copy of your receipt to a certain address, etc. Listen to the instructions carefully (write them down if possible) and follow them exactly.
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    If no corporate structure is available, or if Corporate also fails to satisfy you, report the business.
    • Most legitimate businesses will respond to a Better Business Bureau (BBB) report. Find the BBB that is local to the business you are complaining about. File an online complaint. Wait a few days to see whether the business responds.
    • If no response is forthcoming within fifteen days, file a http://RIPOFFREPORT.COM report to let others know your experience.
    • Go to the Federal Trade Commission website and file an FTC Consumer Complaint. It's a possibility your report will be used in an investigation.
    • Find websites that are reporting similar issues. Add your comment to the discussion. You never know; an attorney may be scouring the web for a class action lawsuit.
    • Describe your situation on your blog. Ask all of your friends to pimp it. Remember, don't defame the business and remain truthful without embellishment!
    • See the Tips and External Links below for additional reporting options as well as website addresses.
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    Protest physically. Round up as many friends as you can to help you protest. Make your signs exact and non-defaming, like "X sold me a defective trampoline" or "X overcharged me and will not refund my money." Do not use signs like "(expletive) X" or "X breaks the law." If you know anyone who can help, let your contact notify a local newspaper or TV station about your protest. Be sure to check the local laws concerning picketing first. These laws vary from municipality to municipality. In most cases you must obtain a permit to protest. Permits are generally issued at City Hall.
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    Get a lawyer. This should be your last resort, but if you have exhausted all the other options, still haven't gotten a proper resolution, and aren't willing to give up, then find an attorney.


  • Remember: always stay calm.
  • Dressing nicely is not strictly necessary, but it does not hurt to arrive looking decent.
  • Listen to responses given to you by store personnel. If the supervisor apologizes, then you have made your case and can move on to resolution. If you restate your problem again after hearing an apology, you will only frustrate whomever you are talking to, reducing your chances of a successful resolution.
  • Make sure to write down the name of every person you talk to so you can refer to them later. If you need to make a complaint at a later time this will give your complaint more credibility.
  • Remember, pick your battles. If it is a ten dollar item, it may not be worth the effort of talking to the manager or calling a lawyer. You can always give the item away as a gift if you do not like it or donate it to Goodwill.
  • Never use lines like "I spent $xxx at this store" or "I shop here every day". It's sure to get your legitimate complaints ignored by service staff.
  • It's very important for you to make the business feel as if you are a potential return customer. If you say, "I'm never shopping here again!" the business has no incentive to make you happy.
  • Smile and keep your body language non-threatening. Appearing positive and reasonable is likely to engender a similar response from whomever you are speaking to -- and so is appearing hostile and threatening!
  • Keep all original receipts and agreements; make copies to attach to any letters you write.
  • There is nothing wrong with a good sob story, as long as you are being truthful.
  • You can always perform a charge back through your credit card if the business does not respond to a legitimate concern. Many businesses, especially those over the internet, will respond to the threat of a charge back.
  • When dealing with internet-based businesses, when filing your complaint be aware that under the Section 230(c) of the Federal Communications Decency Act, some interactive sites are not required to remove allegedly defamatory postings unless served by a court order.
  • Sometimes threatening to change providers (e.g.,from Comcast to DirectTV) can make things run along much more smoothly.


  • At all times, remain truthful without embellishment. Being untruthful will come back to bite you.
  • Do not threaten a lawsuit to anyone unless you plan to follow through.
  • Don't give more information than is requested; over-explaining sounds 'fishy'.
  • Bad businesses know a trick concerning the Better Business Bureau. If they say you are threatening litigation against them, or they plan litigation against you, the BBB will not file the report. This is why only legitimate businesses will respond to the BBB.
  • Don't attempt to get a full refund when you created the problem, i.e. special ordered the wrong item, didn't read the terms and conditions, damaged the item yourself, etc.

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