Would you rather do almost anything other than try to resolve an issue with the cable company, bank or other business? Instead of avoiding the problem, help yourself by complaining more eff ectively.

Be realistic – Before you speak with anyone, were your expectations realistic? Did you expect five-star service from a two-star hotel? How much time are you willing to put forth for your desired outcome?

Take good notes – Write down the name of those individuals you speak with and the date and time of the call. Note the options off ered, the agreed-upon next steps and how long it should take for problem resolution.

Be a part of the solution – Use phrases like, “I think I figured out why this happened” or “I want to discuss a different approach to the problem.” If you are not willing to contribute to the solution, you shouldn’t complain.

Put it in writing – If the matter involves money, legal issues, taxes or your credit report, put everything in writing and send the letters certified mail, return receipt requested.

Know your rights – If the product or service involves a contract, warranty or guaranty, read and understand the fine print. Find out who regulates the company and whether you have additional consumer rights under federal or state law.

Enlist the service representative – Appeal to the representatives as experts by asking, “What would you do if you were in my situation?”

Be positive – The author of “The Squeaky Wheel: Complain the Right Way”, Guy Winch, Ph.D., suggests this technique: Sandwich the complaint between two positive statements. The first positive statement makes the complaint easier to hear, and the second motivates the listener to help.

Gratitude – When your complaints are resolved, be sure to thank all those involved.

Source: How to Complain and Win, MSN.com, June 2011.