SCAMS, FRAUDS and HACKS: Seven steps to fighting back

 Bought a product that has not lived up to its promises? A service that is unsatisfactory? There are steps to take to fight back, to get a product replaced, to get a poor service rectified or corrected, and/or to get a refund.

However, be aware that:

  • You cannot change the price you paid
  • Anger will get you absolutely nowhere
  • Asking rather than demanding increases your likelihood of success

Seven Steps in fighting back (in short):

  1. Avoid the problems in the first place
  2. Use a major credit card
  3. Keep all receipts and a record of the “bad”
  4. Read the fine print about the REFUND POLICY
  5. Phone your complaint, record the conversation in detail, follow up by letter
  6. Keep calm, cool and DO NOT GET ANGRY
  7. Ask rather than demand, promise a follow-up, and follow-up to credit card companies and the Better Business Bureau


1. Avoid the problems from the start
Do some preliminary investigation about the product/service seller before you buy something. Read reviews on the Internet, at your local library. Ask the company for referrals who you can talk to. Do your homework about the company and what they sell before you buy.


2. Use a major credit card
Pay for your purchase using a major credit card. The card has clout behind it should you need artillery when a purchase goes awry. No retailer wants to cross swords with a major credit card company. Imagine the effect on your business when your company gets ‘blacklisted’ by Mastercard or Visa. No retailer ever wishes to violate one of these large credit card corporations.
Just as importantly, when you pay for a purchase with a major credit card and something goes wrong, the least the credit card will do will be to advise you as to how to work toward a resolution of your issues. If the product/service is not what is promised, the credit card may even take on the burden of pursuit themselves as they may view it as a fraud.


3. Keep all receipts and a record of the “bad”
Always keep all your receipts, paper transactions for future reference. This way you have proof of purchase. Claiming a refund or resolution to a problem when you cannot prove you paid for the product or service is likely doomed to failure.
Keep a log of the “bad” with your product or service. Write an objective factual description, date, what happened? When did it fail? Did it fail more than once? How did it fail in your view? Keep your information clinical, objective and without emotional supplements.

4. Read the fine print about the REFUND POLICY
When you buy something from a first-time retailer, ask about their refund policy. Get it in writing. Verbal statements carry no weight. Obtain a copy of the refund policy and keep it in your records.

5. Phone your complaint, record the conversation in detail, follow up by letter
You may begin your resolution process by phone. Write down all the details of the call as you are in it, not after. You can even tell the retail representative to speak slowly, or repeat things they have just said, or to clarify what they just stated so that you can record the information correctly. Your conversation will now take on more ‘weight’ as it unfolds. Repeat what you are told. If it is not clear, ask the rep to “re-explain it” in a different way. Be sure you have a clear understanding before proceeding.
Be sure to record:

  • The date of the call;
  • The case # if one is assigned;
  • The name of the rep;
  • A short description of the problem;
  • Any promise or resolution the rep promises and its date.

6. Keep calm, cool and DO NOT GET ANGRY
Be sure to keep calm and unemotional in dealing with the retail representative. Anger will result in failure. Indicate that you are phoning about a dissatisfaction with the product or service and you wish to find what the company is willing to do about it. Do not demand; do not pose ultimatums; do not threaten; do not promise litigation or legal action.

Give the company an opportunity to rectify matters. Reputable companies are in business to sell and service the public, not scam or defraud them. Deal with the company representative with respect and you increase your chances of getting a successful resolution to your issue.

7. Ask rather than demand, promise follow-up, and follow-up to credit card companies and BBB ( Better Business Bureau )
The most important thing in dealing with “trying to resolve a problem” is to be unemotional and non-threatening. No matter how justified you feel your case is, a threat only builds barriers to the successful resolution of your problem.Ask what follow-up the retailer will take and when you can expect it to take place. Patience may be called for here as retailers are not working with just one client.If your purchase was made using a credit card, follow-up the retailer call with a call to your credit card company where you explain the whole problem as you have recorded it.  Note the NAME of who you have spoken with, along with case # if it is given one.

BELL TELEPHONE   1 877 877 2426
BOSE AUDIO           1 800 869 2114
CANON CANADA   1 800-652-2666
DELL COMPUTERS    1 866 335 5720
            US: +1 855-836-3987
            Cda: +1 514-670-8700
HUAWEI PHONES   888 548 2934
McAFEE AV  1-866-622-3911
MICROSOFT 1 800 642 7676
                        1 (877) 568-2495

Use support or assistance wherever you can find it. Watch/read/confer with family, friends and pros who do the fighting as part of their journalistic beat:

PAT FORAN – CFTO TV “On your side” [ Consumer Alert ]

Personal Financial Consultant – TORONTO STAR
[ Ellen Roseman is quite amazing at getting back to people who contact her. Even more amazing is the success she has in her endeavours. Read one consumer’s letter to the Star regarding Ellen’s work: CROSBIE ] 
[ Link to reaching Roseman: ]

DALE GOLDHAWK – Advocacy journalist, retired radio show host: “Goldhawk fights back”

LIBBY ZNAIMER – Zoomer radio show host: “Fight Back”



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