How to get help despite bad customer service


George Starr knows how to fish around to get good customer service. He got Sony to send him a $1,500 flat-screen free of charge when his old TV broke - even though it was out of warranty.

Consumer Reports found plenty of people aren't happy with customer service. Sixty-four percent said they had walked out of a store because of poor service in the past year.

Sam's Club and Wal-Mart were among the worst stores for service. Overall, people complained about customer service over the phone, too.

"67 percent of those surveyed told us they didn't get their problem solved," said Tod Marks of Consumer Reports. "Their biggest complaints - too long a wait on hold, can't get a human being and too many menus to navigate to get to a real person."

But websites like Dial A Human or GetHuman can help. They list customer service numbers that will get you to a real person.

Or do what Starr did, and use social media.

"I found a Facebook site after going through Google called, 'I Have a Defective Sony TV,' and it gives you the email address, phone numbers, tells you exactly the steps that you need to do," Starr said.

Marks said social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are powerful tools.

"Companies are actually monitoring these sites to listen to what's being said about them. So if you have a complaint, go online," Marks said.

Consumer Reports finds it's not all gloom and doom when it comes to customer service. Some companies do a very good job, including Apple, Southwest Airlines and, which sells electronics.

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