I can still feel my blood pumping.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been negotiating with someone to do some advertising on one of my blogs. We bounced several numbers and stats back and forth and eventually agreed on a price. I sent the individual a sample of the ad layout and everything was ‘great’ according to him.
I set everything up and asked for payment.
That’s when he said the rate wasn’t fair and he wanted me to double the advertising that I was offering.
The individual waited until I had invested a significant amount of time and put everything up on the site (not this one) before going back on the agreement and trying to get more out of me. I’m all for negotiation, but this was manipulation. He waited until he had my back in the corner and then tried to milk the situation for more.
I refused to have any part of it, as I think the most important element in any transaction is trust. If I don’t trust you, I don’t do business with you.
Anyway, needless to say, I was mad and frustrated about someone waisting all my time by falsely representing his position. It was time to complain.
How to Offer a Christ-Like Complaint
Sometimes I think Christians have misapplied terms like meekness and humility.
We think that those terms mean that we must always acquiesce to the actions of others. We must never do anything to challenge or confront others. This is not true.
Whatever those terms mean they allow for Christ to get raving mad and turn over tables at the temple.
God values justice. God embraces honesty. The Bible is very clear about the necessity for fair business practices (as a sample see: Prov. 11:1, Micah 6:11, Ez. 45:11). When people are mistreated, those who mistreat others usually get a healthy does of the wrath of God.
People who lie, cheat, and steal should be held accountable for their actions.
I’ve had several times when a company has not delivered what they promised. I always do my best to hold them accountable.
Still, we must have the wisdom to know when to quit. We need to evaluate the seriousness of every wrong. I tend to use the avoidance strategy when it comes to conflict, but there are times to challenge the wrongs of others.
4 Steps for Making a Productive Complaint
There is a difference between a productive complaint and blowing off steam. I am thinking here of doing something that will actually bring a useful result.
1. Be Clear
Say something like: “The reason I’m feeling disappointed/angry/frustrated/upset is because ___________”. Let them know specifically why you’re feeling what you’re feeling.
2. Be Nice (or Not, Depending on the Situation)
In a situation where you’re trying to actually resolve something, then you must be nice.
When my wife and I were delayed several hours on a recent flight, I wrote a nice complaint letter and received 12,500 SkyMiles. If you’re dealing with an organization, you must recognize the limitations of certain employees. If there is something they can do to help, you’ll be more likely to have success if you talk to them kindly. I always make it a point to say, “I know it’s not your fault …”.
When I’m trying to resolve a situation, I always do my best to be nice.
If, however, someone has clearly done something out of line, I don’t try and be nice. Instead, I try to explain as clearly as possible why I’ll no longer do businesses with that organization.
When Jesus turned over the tables, he wasn’t very nice about it.
3. Be Firm
If you or someone else is being taken advantage of by an unfair situation or policy, I think it is our right to let the company know in a firm way that the way they are doing business is not right. Typically, the best way to do this is refuse to spend money at companies that don’t do what they promised.
4. Propose a Feasible Solution
As a business owner, I like to make customers happy. Sometimes, I simply don’t know how to make them happy.
Above, I mentioned how I contacted Delta Airlines. In the letter, I told them I felt like it would be appropriate for them to give some miles for the delay. What I was saying was, if you give me some miles for the inconvenience, I’ll walk away a happy customer. They did, and I was.
I guess I’m just saying that to be Christ-like doesn’t mean to be a door-mat. It doesn’t mean to roll over and let people take advantage of you and others. At the same time, there’s no point in simply ranting and raving without any purpose.
How do you deal with bad customer service or a bad business transaction? How does the fact that you’re a Christian impact how you respond?