We truly live in an affluent society here in the US of A. There are a plethora of services available to make our lives more comfortable and more fulfilling, and more seem to be added every day. And most of the time, we get what we pay for.
Sometimes, though, a breakdown occurs between what is promised and what is delivered. You complain, but to no avail. What should you do? Reading this book would be a good way to start. Jon Yates is the Official Problem Solver of the Chicago Tribune, and in this book he shows how he has helped people overcome myriad problems and get the service they deserve. I have had my share of problems, but they pale in comparison to those mentioned in this book, which range from dreadful to downright scary. Take the case of the lady who survived brain surgery only to find she owed the hospital $300,000 when the insurance company wouldn’t pay her claim. Then there is the ice-cream store owner who realized why his utility bill was so high: he had been paying the bill of a neighboring business for four years, and when he confronted the utility company, they refused to reimburse him.
Jon Yates’s strategy is based on what he calls the “Problem Solver’s Golden Rule” that people must stick up for themselves and at least try to fix their own problems. You have to get tough if you are going to fight the big guys, those companies and agencies that treat you like another number or statistic. Yates cites three basic and universal keys to solving your own problems. First, businesses are out to make money, and you must convince them that NOT helping you is going to cost more than helping you (by complaining, which he turns in to a fine art). My favorite and probably the most helpful advice can be found in his 10 consumer commandments. You will learn how you can complain to get the best possible results, the importance of keeping all of your paperwork (which can be challenging since more and more transactions are done online now) and several other important things to keep in mind, such as never giving out your personal information to anyone you do not know in any medium, whether it be in person, over the phone or in an email.
The book is broken up into 16 easy-to-read chapters and covers a wide variety of businesses and bureaucracies to look out for, from health insurance companies to airlines to public utilities. There are chapters to help you with a specific task, like “Dial H for human being,” which is filled with tips on how to get what you need from those dreaded customer service calls, and “Poisoned Pen,” which explains how to write a successful complaint letter. One of the most valuable aspects of the book is the appendix, which includes all of the phone numbers, websites and other resources that are mentioned in each chapter.
I have added this valuable resource book to my personal collection, and I recommend that you check out a copy from WRL.
Check the WRL catalog for What’s Your Problem?