Mike Mandel and I take pride in giving our customers great service. We’ve all been mis-treated by other companies before, right? We don’t stand for it, and we don’t think you should either. This article is a story about how I used a language technique to get my way in a dispute with an online toy store.
Here’s the story.
My wife was invited to a baby shower. Needing a gift, she went to the website of a well known store that sells baby items and toys. She selected an infant carrier and paid with a credit card. When the box arrived a few days later she was a bit puzzled. Baby carrier? No. Plastic T-ball set? Yes.
Oops. Mistakes happen. No big deal. Just call the customer service department and tell them, right? Wrong. Customer service was absolutely brutal.
The customer service agent told her to return the shipment at the closest store. Closest store? We live in a small town. We don’t live anywhere close to their stores. They were asking us to do a lot of work to solve their problem. Not cool.
Amazon would have immediately issued an apology and a full refund. They’d send us a return mailing label and we’d return the package to the local post office for them. Naturally, my wife asked this toy store to do the same thing.
After wasting an hour of her time, they finally agreed to an immediate refund and to send us a return label. But they never did either of those things!
Once we realized they had wasted our time AND failed to do the right thing, I decided to escalate this to our credit card company. I called them and explained the facts.
I told the credit card company to open a dispute, which is also called a “chargeback” in the industry. It means the credit card company gives us our money back right away and then chases the misbehaving toy company to get their money back.
It’s your credit card company’s job to protect you. So imagine my surprise when they tried to convince me to deal with this myself.
But I knew what I wanted and I made it very clear. I was not willing to let the toy store waste more of my time with crappy service, and I ended up getting my way.
So here come’s the use of the Agree and Repeat strategy. This is what made it possible for me to get my way.
Remember that in order to get what you want you simply need to state your demands and then agree (in principle) and repeat your demands until you get what you want.
Here is how my conversation went with the credit card company service agent.
Agent: Sir, we can’t do that for you unless you try to resolve it with the vendor first.
Chris: We already wasted an hour talking to them. I want to file a dispute.
Agent: We can’t open a dispute though. You need to speak to the vendor first.
Chris: I’m sure that’s normally how things are done. However I’ve wasted enough time with them and I want to open a dispute.
Agent: Even if I could open a dispute, based on what you’ve told me (no written evidence, etc) you might not even win the dispute.
Chris: That’s probably true. But I want to open a dispute right now.
Agent: I’m sorry sir, but you really need to speak to the vendor again first. I’m not authorized to open a dispute for this.
Chris: I understand that you may not be authorized. But someone is authorized. And I want to open a dispute immediately.
Agent: (a few seconds of silence) …you’re SURE you want to file a dispute?
Chris: Yes. Please make it happen.
Agent: Let me speak to my manager to get approval for this.
It was a bit frustrating to be treated this way by the credit card company. I understand that they don’t want to spend their time (and time is money) to deal with my problem. They’d much rather push the issue back on me. But I knew how to win because I was armed with the right language tactic.
The Agree and Repeat Strategy works brilliantly for many types of situations. We encourage you to adopt it and use it ethically.