Part Two “Fearless Consumer” in the Allegheny Highlands and beyond

Conflict is something most of us prefer to avoid, but I recently talked to some one for whom that’s not true.

“I’m looking for people really who are having a dispute.”

Barbara Nordin, of Warm Springs Va, writes the Fearless Consumer column for the Bath-Highland Recorder. In one of her former cases she worked with a couple who were employed by a state university for less than a year, and purchased a car with the understanding that because they were going to only be driving locally, and not for long, the car would hold its value pretty well.When they took the car back to the seller, they were quoted a much lower trade-in price. The couple stood to loose thousands of dollars based on what they’d been promised, and they didn’t know there was any recourse until they met the Fearless Consumer.

“If sales men were going to be allowed to kind of go rogue, and basically steal from a customer, and here they were, probably not with great English skills, and probably just felt so cowed they didn’t have a choice, well, they were going to have to answer for that.”

Each situation may call for a slightly different approach, but basically the hope is, a company cares enough about their reputation to listen.

“So, I called their customer service manager, and we had a really frank talk.  When he started telling me how much their customers loved them, I interrupted to say,  ‘Nooooo, actually when water cooler conversations hit on car repairs and car dealerships, they were at the top of the list.’  It was constant. How many people you would hear telling these stories about this dealership. He was pretty taken aback.  The salesman surprisingly wasn’t working there at that point.”

As Barbara describes , a positive transaction should be neither a case of “the customer is always right”  or,  constantly one of “buyer beware”.  She admits there have been a few times when a customer wanted some type of recourse with a merchant that was not entirely justified.

“But nine point five times out of ten, the business really was caught red-handed doing something that was just anything from rude to really basically came down to grand theft as far as I’m concerned.”

My guess is there are as many different ways of being dissatisfied as there are products and consumers.  Barbara  mentioned some of the possible situations where consumers might want extra help resolving a conflict: cell phone carriers, package delivery services, perhaps satellite TV companies, or a big box store. 

“Maybe some one got appliances from some place like Home Depot, or Lowe’s or Best Buy, and are upset about how this has gone, having trouble getting them serviced etc.  Hearing about an airline, something like that that we can all relate too.”

For the opportunity to use your scenario to write about, Barbara will work through the dispute to a conclusion.  Her website is a valuable resource on its own, documenting her experience and a range of past reconciliations.

“My website also has links to all my columns from the years I wrote for “The Hook”, and a lot of them are just entertaining, some of them are absolutely infuriating.”

If you find yourself facing a struggle with a customer service department, remember there is someone who would like to help. 

You can read about her past successes, and provide her with a new one.  Visit and let let her know what you’ve been experiencing. 

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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