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Resourceful customers get good results — after warranty expired

How about some good news for a change? Thanks to some readers who were assertive consumers, that’s the case this week.

While only a handful actually used the legal edge that Massachusetts consumers are supposed to have of “implied warranty’’ - that you have a right to expect that you have gotten what you paid for in both products and services - quite a few showed how they were able to work the angles and not let a little adversity get in their way.

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One consumer who purchased a cooktop that conked out shortly after the one-year warranty expired, and was facing a $200 repair bill, asked for a customer service supervisor. He calmly, but firmly explained that he was a longtime customer, had purchased many other products from the company over the years, and had come to expect more. In response, the supervisor made a one-time exception and agreed to authorize the repair at no charge.

A lot of companies will make one-time exceptions. But you can’t get the exception if you don’t ask.

Then there was the woman whose dishwasher buttons started to fall off after the warranty expired and after she learned the credit card she used doesn’t extend warranties (many do). She reached out to the company’s social media manager and received a speedy resolution.

The lesson there is to not underestimate companies’ interest in avoiding a public airing of your gripes. Going on Twitter or Facebook to ask customer service questions, or reaching out to their social media staff, is often a very successful way to get attention. Many companies will be far more responsive to a complaint brought through social media channels than one that is delivered the old-fashioned way over the phone.

In the last victory of the day - another appliance issue - the victorious consumer had a part that was replaced and then failed again in nine months. Properly peeved, she escalated her complaint to supervisors until she was able to connect with the consumer representative in the executive offices. That did the trick. When flustered, escalate as high as you can.

While you should remember that you have the implied warranty card if you want to try to play it, take note of these real success stories that are based on resourcefulness, perseverance, and the bottom line that the customers really were right.

Lipka has been helping consumers out of jams for the past two decades. He lives in Worcester and also writes the Consumer Alert blog on Mitch can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @mitchlipka.
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