Getting better service

It's nearly impossible to get customer service these days without waiting in line, on hold, or for a technician to show up within an eight-hour window. Kelli Grant, Senior Consumer Reporter for SmartMoney.com says with a little effort you can get better service.

Try reaching out online before calling. Many companies keep a dedicated customer service staff monitoring their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. You can often get a faster, better response there than you would calling the toll-free customer service line.

It never hurts to tout how long you've been a customer, or point to status in a loyalty program. Many retailers offer a special customer service line to members of their loyalty program, or extra perks. Best Buy, for example, extends its return policy from 30 to 45 days for "silver" members - people who spend more than $2,500 a year in its stores.

Keep good records by making sure you note who you speak with, when you called, and what transpired. Save all your related emails. Having good records detailing the steps you have taken to resolve a problem can be helpful when you get a chance to talk with a manager or rep with more seniority.

Some companies offer consumers the chance to pay more for better service. Pay roughly an extra $15 per month, and Time Warner cable shortens your install window from eight to three hours. Apple lets you cut to the front of the line for repairs for $99 a year. Weigh the fee against the value of your time and the service provided. *

If service is so bad, ditch the company for another in your area that has decent customer reviews. Yes, it's a hassle to switch banks or cable providers, but it can be worth it if you're going to a company that will treat you better.

For more information on getting the customer service you deserve and other consumer tips click here.

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