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Have you ever gotten bad service at a restaurant? Didn’t get what you expected when you bought a product? You could complain, but you need to know how to complain correctly in order to get what you want.

According to U.S.  News & World Report (via MSN), there are four steps to take:

1. Write it down:  Have a written record of what happened. This, notes U.S. News, “allows you to organize your thoughts into a powerful argument. It also allows you to put both the damage and your requested solution into proper perspective.” You will also have all the details on hand when you need them.

2. Stick with the facts: Don’t exaggerate. “If you have the facts on your side, your case is much stronger,” states the article. “You’ll begin by stating what happened: what was promised to you and who made the promise; what was delivered and how it differed from the promise. Be clear on how the promise differed from the results.” Make sure all the details are precise.

3. Know who can resolve your complaint: Complaining to the wrong person will get you nowhere. Always ask for a supervisor or manager—someone who can make decisions.  Sometimes it isn´t easy, however, to get to the right person. “That might take some detective work, such as a phone call to the store to find out the manager’s name or an Internet search to identify the CEO. But be realistic when you choose your problem solver,” reports U.S. News. “A $10 problem should be resolved by the store manager, not a corporate officer.”

4. Know what you want: Don’t just complain for complaining’s sake. Complain to get what you want.  “Unless your goal is just to be heard, know exactly what you want to resolve the matter. Are you looking for a replacement product? A refund? An apology from the company?” according to U.S. News. And be prepared to negotiate. You may simply ask and receive, but you may have to settle for less.  “Know in advance what the minimum is that would make you happy,” the article advises.

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