NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Internet Complaint Boards

Internet Complaint Boards


            The popularity of the Internet has spun off a new option for consumers. If you feel you have been dealt with unfairly in a consumer transaction, you can now post your complaint on one of many online complaint sites.  Websites which specialize in helping consumers vent often have hundreds of postings and regular followers. But does it work?  Other than maybe lowering your blood pressure by expressing your view does it have any benefit?

            The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) recently released a report that highlighted the pros and cons of such sites. Researchers for the consumer advocacy group considered about a dozen such sites.

            A con is that according to the report, “there is little evidence that the websites help consumers resolve their complaints.”  The report also highlighted that the sites rarely point users toward the right government officials or agencies that could deal directly with companies and get results. Another con is that companies seldom, if ever, respond to the complaints posted.  Contacting a company directly is still the best way to resolve a conflict.

            Now for the pros - consumers in the middle of a dispute can sometimes find useful tips in the complaints of others who have had similar experiences. Another poster may suggest which specific department within a company to call for help.  Some complaint boards are specific, such as for vehicles, and they can have direct contact with manufacturers so the consumer can find some resolution to their problem.  Product specific complaint boards had a higher rate of success when it came to helping consumers and keeping them informed such as for recalls.

            The report also found that the main benefactors of the sites might be consumers who are looking to make a purchase and by reading earlier posts can insight as to products they might purchase.

            Adding Internet complaint boards to your reading list might make for some interesting reading but business savvy consumers probably want to still look elsewhere for info on products or services they are looking to buy.




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