By Ryan McGreal
Published March 20, 2009
I recently endured a very frustrating, ongoing "customer service" ordeal with a large retail firm and had exhausted the normal channels of attempting to get hold of someone at the company who could help me.
Everyone's been there at some time or other, but in the past there really wasn't much you could do short of calling into the "customer service" line once more and banging your head against more virtual walls.
After three weeks of canceled appointments, rude service agents, dismissive supervisors (one customer service agent told us, "There's no one higher in the company that you can talk to."), aggravation and wasted time, we decided enough was enough.
We looked up the company's website, got a list of the executive team, and proceeded to send them a letter explaining our situation.
The response was rapid and impressive. Within an hour, we had a reply from the CEO and by the next day, we had an 'executive care' agent promising to deal with us directly until the issue was resolved and advising that the CEO had ordered a top-down review of what had gone wrong with their process.
This blog entry explains how we were able to get the email addresses of the company's executives.
Most companies follow one of a handful of naming conventions for employee email addresses. It's usually one of the following (using my name as an example): firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com.
You can often discover this naming convention by looking up contact information, e.g. for public relations people in the company; but even if you can't find that, it's reasonably safe to assume the convention will be one of those listed above.
I would definitely recommend against doing this before you have exhausted every other avenue. If consumers abuse it, executives will quickly move to insulate themselves from email access by the public.
However, if nothing else has worked, this may be your last-ditch method of getting some action on your complaint. Below is a form that generates the email addresses automatically (tested on Firefox 3, IE6 and IE7). Just follow these instructions:
Bonus tip: watch your inbox to see which email addresses bounce back as undelivered. Whichever ones don't bounce back are the real addresses.
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