Monday, June 12, 2006

A Four Part Series On Protesting & Complaining: Pt II

A couple days back I started a series on Protesting & Complaining. Today I will continue the series with part two.

Pt II: Rally The Troops & Drop The Nukes!

I last left you with an anecdotal story of getting ripped off by an online teeth whitening company. I laid out the steps of getting a refund. Now I want to lay out the steps of letting others know. Think of this as helping others to help yourself. Take the energy of being upset and do something constructive. It's real therapy for a bad situation.

After I made sure I sent the product back to WhiteOverNite and got my friend's money back, I went to GODADDY.COM and registered: WHITEOVERNITEONLINE.COM I'm using this site to expose the WhiteOverNite scam and hopefully others will learn about it before they too are scammed. Don't look at anything you do as revenge. If you are vengeful minded, then a protest isn't for you.

I registered a blogspot blog (such as this site is) and quickly created a site with information concerning the scam. No biggie, took me about an hour to do the whole thing.

After finishing up my protest website I went to RIPOFFREPORT.COM to file a report. WhiteOverNite has one of the highest numbers of reports on the site! I filled out my report and submitted it.

* Tip: You may think that reporting someone to the Better Business Bureau is effective, but it's not. Certainly you should take the time to fill in an online complaint for a company with whom you have a grievance with, but most bad companies know that they can surpress bad BBB reports by either A) Telling the BBB they plan to sue you over the matter or B) If they are a member of the BBB, they are given special consideration and mediation. Most likely the report will be tossed out. RIPOFFREPORT.COM is also called The Bad Business Bureau. They aren't politically correct and they don't cater to those who are members.

Next, I filled out an FTC Consumer complaint. This reports the business to the federal government. Enough of these reports and the government will make an example of the business to the public. Also, since these records are public domain, this is often where investigative news shows such as DateLine NBC get their leads for stories.

You can file a report here: FTC.GOV Consumer Complaint Form

Next ... give your state's Attorney General a call. Let their office know that a constituent has been ripped off. Again, this is usually a "case building" matter. That means, that while your particular case is important to report ... usually action isn't taken if the item is under $10,000 or a dozen or more people haven't reported the exact same scam.

You can find a list of Attorney General phone numbers in the Fix Your Thinking reference section: Attorney General Phone #'s By State

* Most Attorney Generals will give you an aside that they hate the Better Business Bureau and realize the ineffectiveness of a complaint filed with them.

Next ... report the company to the IRS. You don't have to make up a story. Just print out a form and say you think there's impropriety ... they may be flagged for investigation. Most scammers don't report their revenue properly. This is one of the less known, but more effective ways of reporting a bad business.

Go to this page to fill out a form: Suspected Tax Fraud Reporting

If your complaint doesn't involve money and you think others may know your cause and feel the same way ... construct a short but sweet PETITIONONLINE.COM petition.

As for what else you can do that is effective online ... find websites such as the one you are reading. If I don't want to report on it, I will guide you to a place where you can. Try to find a website with a high readership and then, if the story is reported on that website ... submit it to the big news aggregating services like Slashdot. A well told story even posted in the forums at Slashdot can generate millions of hits. Submitting the story to other places like DIGG helps too. Don't be hesitant to send emails to any entity related to the company either ... their Internet Service Provider (ISP), their local Chamber Of Commerce, businesses that you know well that do business with them.

My rule of thumb is usually 10 ways is adequate as I find 10% of complaining is effective. 1 in 10 of the methods I have shown here is usually effective ... it varies as to which one gets attention.

In the next segment ... I will detail physical protests, sending a cease and desist letter to a business, and filing litigation against a business.

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