|You ordered that T-shirt weeks ago and your credit card has been charged, but it still hasn't arrived. Now what?|
While it's tempting to go running immediately to the media or the BBB, you should start by seeing if you can resolve the complaint via the company's own customer service channels. "Definitely contact the company first and see if they're willing to work with you," says Katherine Hutt, a spokeswoman for the BBB. "Be polite, don't start off angry." Indeed, there's a right way and a wrong way to file a complaint, and we have looked at the talking points you can use to make your complaint (the short version: be polite but persistent).
If the issue hasn't been resolved within a day or two, you'll want to bring out the big guns. If you paid by credit card -- and you really should have -- flip your card over, find the customer service number and give them a call. You should be able to dispute the charge and have it taken off your statement. Go public.
From there, you can take your fight more public if you so choose. Filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau should light a fire under the company to take action, especially if the gripes start to add up and a company finds itself besieged with bad reviews. If you have a decent social media presence, post on the company's Facebook page and tweet at the company's account (tip: To maximize exposure, don't begin your tweet with the company's Twitter handle, or it's likely only you and the company will see it). And if you think your experience was particularly egregious, we'd recommend reaching out to the media, focusing on consumer sites such as MainStreet.com and local news sources that advocate on behalf of angry consumers. Determine if it was a scam.
Finally, consider the possibility that your problem could go well beyond simply not getting your item. Hutt says that if you ordered from a lesser-known online retailer and never got your merchandise, it's possible the website itself was some sort of scam intended to steal your money and credit card number. She says warning signs of such scams include privacy policies written in broken English and Web addresses that don't use the secure "https" prefix during the checkout process. In these cases, you should strongly consider calling your credit card company and canceling the card before any damage can be done. >To submit a news tip, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow TheStreet on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.