While doing my nightly forum browsing, I stumbled across a pair of public complaints against a couple of reputable companies, and it got me thinking about the common courtesies of vendor and manufacturer feedback. In both of the complaints we read, neither of the thread authors seemed to have made much of an attempt to communicate with the respective companies prior to putting them on blast publicly. The lack of effort was so apparent, in fact, that several other forum users attempted to explain the correct actions that should have been taken prior to venturing into the online world. We completely understand the frustrations involved when a brand new piece of aquarium equipment fails in a short time, but there are certain steps that consumers should take before ruining the good name of an aquarium company.
The first step to take upon receiving a new piece of aquarium equipment is to inspect it thoroughly and immediately report any damage or improper operation to the store from where it was purchased (either online or local). Do not contact the manufacturer or distributors at this point, as they would likely want you to go up the retail supply chain first. On top of that, the store where the item was purchased from may just replace the item without question…especially if it is local.
If after step one the retailer directs you to the manufacturer or decides to not be too helpful in resolving the issue, then you should direct your problems to the aquarium equipment manufacturer. Don’t run to the local forums with a complaint. Don’t send scathing emails back and forth. Just contact the manufacturer and get the items to them as soon as possible. Most items have a one year manufacturer’s warranty, so replacing or repairing the product shouldn’t be an issue if it occurs in that time frame.
Only after exhausting all of the proper channels should you even think about taking your complaint online. And even then, you should avoid overly negative feedback and try to lay the groundwork for a smoother transaction. Sure, you think that you’re only ripping the company a new one to draw attention to the issue and get it resolved faster, but that sort of negative feedback doesn’t move the process along in a meaningful way and it might actually hamper the process altogether. On top of that, it damages the reputation of a company over an issue that may already be on its way to being resolved.
One last thing to consider is time, and just how much of it is required to get an issue fixed satisfactorily. Some companies will have quick turnaround times, while others may have a more complicated repair and replacement process. Emails won’t always get replied to right away, and there may not be anyone to answer the phone on the first ring. You might have to try to establish communication on more than one instance, but that certainly isn’t deserving of severe negative feedback on the aquarium forums.
The bottom line: please filter yourself when thinking about blasting a company because you had a bad experience. Be patient and make the efforts to resolve issues, and if things just get way too out of hand, then try to get other hobbyists involved. Use the resources at your disposal to get you and the equipment company on the right page.