Picture this. Your precious vehicle breaks down multiple times. You call your preferred service center to book the car in for repairs. Many months have passed but there are no updates about the status of the maintenance work. You can only squeeze out vague answers and hasty promises from your service adviser.
There is no doubt that a situation like this is extremely frustrating. You paid good money for your car and its maintenance, so it is only natural that you expect to be treated like a valued customer when things go wrong. But from your perspective, no one seems to put you at ease and deal with your concerns in a timely manner. So, what do you do?
Well, you could simply just make a really lengthy post on social media. After all, it is a powerful tool that can increase the impact of your tweet or status exponentially in a short span of time. But before you hit that “post” button, this article from Consumer Reports says that you must ask yourself if you need solutions or you just want to vent. If the former is what you want, then escalating your complaint methodically is one good way to get it.
First, reach out to the car company’s official customer-service channels. This is not just the dealership or the service center of a particular brand: We’re talking about the parent firm itself. Try calling its hotline or sending a direct message to its verified social-media accounts. Automakers appreciate this a lot as they know you can make your complaint public but have decided against it. Additionally, doing this safeguards your privacy instead of excessively exposing it with a viral post.
Take notes such as the names of company representatives you have talked to and their contact details, and reference numbers related to your complaint. Do your best to take as much grief out of your system as possible, and be polite to the people you’re talking to. Calmly and clearly tell them about your situation and what kind of resolution you want. And give the company a reasonable time frame to address your queries. Getting in touch during weekdays or office hours increases your chances of getting a timely response.
While you’re at it, you can lodge your complaint with the Department of Trade and Industry. The agency is quite reliable when it comes to resolving issues regarding shoddy customer service. Again, gather details about your interactions with the car company in question. The submission process can be found on this website. While this won’t be the fastest way to solve your problem, it is a legal avenue that is worth exploring.
But if you feel like you’ve waited for an unreasonably long time for a response or an update, then and only then should you even begin to think about using social media. And just like when talking to car-company representatives, never make your post when you’re angry. Create a clear narrative of your situation including the outcome that you want. Include as many pieces of evidence as you can.
Of course, just like when you’re conversing with a human representative, you must avoid using strong or foul language when creating your social-media post. Giving your writeup an angry tone is not a guarantee that your complaint will be given priority. Your frustration is understandable, but including expletives in your story won’t do your reputation any favors and your case might even be dropped to the bottom of the queue.
Now, this process isn’t really a hard rule on how to send complaints to car companies. No one will stop you from using social media first, and it certainly isn’t against the law. But even if your post goes viral and reaches all corners of the world, it is not an assurance that you’ll get what you want in terms of the type of response and the time frame. You’ll just be exposed to people you don’t know, and comments you don’t want.
Speaking of comments, let’s avoid behaving like trolls when engaging with complaint posts. It doesn’t help the complainant or the car company, and it is a representation of your true color. Let’s not invalidate another person’s ordeal simply because everyone else’s experience has been nothing but positive. If the post creator decides to stop patronizing a particular brand, we should simply respect that and refrain from fanning the flames even further. Likewise, we should refrain from criticizing people who choose to continue supporting said brand.
As for vehicles or vehicle parts that break far earlier than they reasonably should, it happens. Even top-tier companies will produce lemons every now and then, and it doesn’t matter how expensive they are. Remember the pair of almost brand-new Boeing 737 Max airliners that crashed within a few months of each other? Each jet retailed for at least $100 million (P5.66 billion), and yet both failed prematurely with hundreds of lives lost.
Car companies should conduct a review of their processes when handling customer complaints. Even though their products are sold and serviced by franchisees, a negative experience at one outlet can potentially tarnish the reputation of the vehicle brand itself. Word spreads like wildfire on social media, so it is imperative that good customer service is delivered in a consistent manner at all dealerships and service centers.