The blender no longer blends. The flight was cancelled. That car turned into a lemon. You want your money back, but where do you start?

Consumer Protection B.C. hears from a lot of unhappy customers. It’s advice? Start with the first person you’ve had an issue with.

  • Be clear. Tell them what you want. Are you looking for a refund? Or want customer service improved?
  • Keep your cool. The most effective complaints are confident and calm. Don't make threats.
  • Give a timeline. Ask how long it might take and give a reasonable timeline for someone to respond to you.                      
  • If you're not getting answers:
  • Escalate. Even company presidents' emails can be found online or on networking sites like LinkedIn.

"Write down your timeline and keep copies what you've sent, whether it's mail or email, and then you can follow up," said Tatiana Chabeux-Smith, Consumer Protection B.C. spokesperson.

And don't dismiss the power of social media. A recent survey found 81 per cent of consumers think social media has made organizations more accountable.

Next to in-person complaints, social media has become the second most common way for consumers to complain.

"I would suggest sending a direct message to the company first which is a little bit more private way to start with rather than going on the public feed," explained Chabeaux-Smith.

If that fails, you can try Online Dispute Resolution. It's a free service to help settle disputes over the internet without going to court.

The Civil Resolution Tribunal is another online tool to resolve small claims disputes that are under $5,000.

It costs up to $150 to file a claim, cheaper than heading to small claims court.

Above all, stick with it. Many consumers have been successful winning their battles and chances are you can too.

And remember, it's also helpful to post comments on websites or social media when you’re happy with a service or business. That can really help other consumers make informed decisions about which companies to use.