Consumer Action Escalation Levels. When you have a concern, complaint, disagreement or dispute with a business, make every effort to find a resolution through discreet channels of communication.
Many companies are responsible enough to respond, graciously acknowledge when a problem exists, and take corrective action through internal self-governance.
If you are working with a company that doesn’t respond, doesn’t acknowledge any problems exits, and doesn’t take corrective action, then you may need to escalate your efforts.
Below is a general guideline to severity levels of consumer action escalation. Consumerist has a great multi-tier collection of resources that are similar to what’s offered here.
- LEVEL 1 – Discreet Notification. Involving as few people as necessary, communicate with the company discreetly to have your concerns addressed by the company – not just with a form letter in return, but with genuine and sincere corrective action. Sometimes this can be as simple as filling out an online form. Most companies will quickly respond and the matter will be resolved promptly. If you are ignored, advance to LEVEL 2.
- LEVEL 2 – Internal Pressure. Contact various departments inside the company and request to speak with supervisors if necessary. At this point, you will probably get an apology for the delay in having your concerns addressed, and the matter will be resolved quickly. If you are ignored and/or treated rudely, contact the company’s legal department and give them one last opportunity to respond to your concerns. If your concerns are addressed and responded to with genuine and sincere corrective action, then return to LEVEL 1. If your concerns are still not addressed, advance to LEVEL 3.
- LEVEL 3 – External Pressure. If the company is willingly engaged in misleading, deceptive, illegal, or harmful activity and appears to have no intention to take corrective action through internal self-governance, you will probably need to contact local, state, and federal agencies. Some companies will try to find legal loopholes so they can continue in unethical and deceptive practices. Even without such loopholes, they may be able to continue in their activity benefiting from an overburdened legal system that is easy on corporate and white collar crime. In such cases it may be necessary to contact news agencies, trade journalists, competitors, consumer groups, and the company’s customer base. Consider organizing a boycott. This may need to happen simultaneously with government pressure, especially if the company has demonstrated an unwillingness to even respond to reasonable requests made in LEVEL 1 and LEVEL 2.
Collaboration With Government Agencies. Unfortunately, some companies are unwilling to take corrective action on their own or even admit a problem exists. In such cases, we will use every possible resource at our disposal to persuade the company to take corrective action. Only as a last resort do we engage state and federal agencies as well as law enforcement and the media, if necessary, to pressure stubborn and greed constrained companies that are operating outside of generally accepted practices and/or blatantly violating the law. For more information, see Consumer Action Escalation Level 3. In some cases, government agencies and law enforcement contact us for help researching leads about questionable business practices. We do all we can to help.