SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – If a customer service representative can’t solve your problem with a product or service, there are plenty of other steps you can take to get help.

That’s the lesson Ria and John Bomers learned after ordering a console from online furniture company, Cymax. Back in June, the Bay Area couple ordered an oak console from Cymax. But after they unwrapped the box, they discovered they’d been shipped a unit with a dark brown stain, instead of the light oak they had been expecting.

“Right away we said “Oh my gosh. This is the wrong one,” Ria Bomers told ConsumerWatch.

They didn’t expect it to be an issue. Cymax’s return policy states: “if for any reason, you are not satisfied with your purchase, we will gladly accept your return request on most brands within 15 days of receiving your item(s).” It does allow for exceptions for used merchandise, bedding, and merchandise without its original packaging. It also states customers will be responsible for shipping and possibly a restocking charge.

But, when the Bomers contacted Cymax’s customer service for help, they got a variety of responses over the next month and a half, none allowing them to return the item.

Finally, in August the company sent the Bomers an email suggesting they sell it on their own, “in order to obtain some of the purchase price back.” An unsatisfactory option to the Bomers, who paid more than $500 for the item, and worried they would take a big loss.

That type of runaround isn’t unusual, says customer experience expert Jeanne Bliss. But she says unhappy consumers have more options than they may realize. Bliss says if a service representative can’t or won’t help, go up the food chain and ask to speak to a supervisor. “As you escalate, the higher and higher levels have more power to do more things for you,” Bliss said.

If that doesn’t work, Bliss recommends reaching out to the president of the company. You can find their address and other contact information by Googling the company or on the company’s Better Business Bureau rating page.

Bliss also recommends using social media to air a complaint against an unresponsive company. “Tweet out that you are having a problem. Most good companies are reviewing their tweets on a daily basis,” Bliss said.

The Bomers took another tack and called ConsumerWatch. We contacted the head of customer service at Cymax. He told us there was a “misunderstanding,” that the Bomers had actually used the console. But says, in any event, they should have been escalated to a supervisor.

Cymax has now issued the couple a full refund.


(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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