How to make a complaint to customer service and get results!

Not getting your complaint heard? Read these tips from the man who made a complaint and got millions to listen.
By Dave Carroll
megaphone, communication, effective speaking Photo, Getty Images.

Dave Carroll watched as airline staff recklessly tossed his guitar around the tarmac. His precious instrument was broken. Snubbed by customer service, he created "United Breaks Guitars," a video seen by over 14 million viewers. He now helps people complain effectively.

1. Ladies and gentleman, please remain calm

Remember that the customer-service person you speak to is not the person who caused your complaint. They are likely wage earners, paid to share bad news with customers. Killing the messenger won’t help your situation, and it could hurt your effort.

2. Be clear and concise

Customer-service representatives spend their days listening to complaints. If you’re clear, concise and calm when you share what happened and what you’d like done about it, you’ll stand out from the crowd. Even if your matter remains unresolved you’ll increase your chances of speaking to someone higher up.

3. Reach for the top...


If the person you are speaking to is unable or unwilling to help, don’t be afraid to insist on speaking to someone with more power. Front line agents are often unauthorized to deal with uncommon problems, but that doesn’t mean no one can help you. Reach for the top to get the result you want.

4. Be sensible in what you ask for

If your suitcase is destroyed by an airline, demanding $2 million in compensation may be a little excessive. Companies, especially those that appreciate the power of social media, want quick resolutions, so ask for something that is desirable but reasonable.

5. Get creative

Innovative ideas and formats can help get your story out. I’m a singer-songwriter, so I used music videos to garner support for my situation. Just remember, content is still king. Make something that looks good, sounds good and encourages people to tell their friends about it. No organization that cares about its reputation will sit by idly while customers look at their brand disapprovingly.


6. Go social!

If you can’t get satisfaction from the company, take it to the people. Share your story on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Tumbler and Gripevine. The more creative your presentation, the better the chance your story will get out there.


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