The Citizen’s Manifesto – What You Didn’t Learn in School

    We live in a democracy, but what does that really mean?


Frugal Fiction is proud to offer Frank B. Trejo’s ebook, The Citizen’s Manifesto – What You Didn’t Learn in School to our selections for only $3.99. With a touch of humor, Trejo delivers lessons about what our Founding Fathers intended and the democracy we face today. It’s a lesson every American should take. (G)  



The Art of Complaining or How to Get Pain & Suffering Compensation from a Retailer

When retailers fail to deliver, the frugal among us find it doubly insulting. Others spent cash. We also invested time & energy. After all, we don’t spend frivolously. Endcaps are not designed for us. We decided to let go of our $$ for this item. And, now, those dollars are wasted. We feel cheated. SOMEONE is going to pay!!!

STOP there!

There is an art to turning frustration into compensation and it starts with,

1) Do nothing. 

What? I’m angry, I’m mad. And you want me to “Do Nothing?”

Yes, exactly. Because you are angry, mad, frustrated. Those emotions generate more of the same from the person on the receiving end, and most times, little else. Seldom do I address the issue at the store level. If they delivered customer service, I wouldn’t have an issue. This is the time to take notes, record the event in your mind, get names, dates, times, etc.  Venting is great for relieving frustration. It is not great for achieving results.

Let me give you an example. You’ve had a lousy meal. When you pay your bill the person asks, “How was everything?” You reply, “Our food was cold and we had to send out an SOS to find our server.” He chuckles, “Yeah, Susie oughta be retired but the bust did her in.” 

This is not a person who will deliver any satisfaction. Pay your bill and get his name, too.

2) Once you’re calm, it’s time to write the company. Check out their website. See what their mission statement is. If it’s a small company without a website, call and find out who the owner is so you can send a letter. 

3) Start with a compliment.

“Are you serious? A compliment? This is a complaint! I don’t have anything nice to say!!!”

Find something. You chose that merchant for a reason. State it. Remember, anger is not part of this equation.

EX: “I love your grilled bananas. No one else has anything close. (wisely, I might add)

3) State the visit details – date, time, person(s) you interacted with. Be a reporter. Give facts, not feelings about the situation.

EX: On April 11 at 11:18 am, receipt #12867597, I visited your Southpole location for those yummy grilled bananas. We were not seated for ten minutes because the greeter was on his cell phone discussing the Mavericks chances this year. When we were seated, our server, Susie, yelled across the room, “Hang on.” We hung on for another ten minutes. We ordered and waited twenty minutes. Our grilled bananas were cold charcoil briquets. We couldn’t locate Susie, or anyone else. The water we had to request did have a nice, cold, not-too-chloriney taste, however.

4) Now, you can express some feelings, in your sweetest, most respectful way of course.

EX: We left very disappointed because we had accumulated our coupon savings for over three weeks to enjoy this treat.

5) Tell ’em why you wrote.

EX: I understand that you can’t be on site all the time, and wanted you to know about our poor experience. With all the competition out there serving yummy grilled bananas I know you want to deliver a great experience so customers come back. 

6) Close with more kind words.

EX: I hope my information will help you so next year your grilled banana sales triple.

7) Wait.

Now, who could ignore that? YOU are not complaining! YOU care about THEM. YOU are helping THEM improve their business! YOU are a wonderful human being worthy of a reward!

8) Go enjoy your results, be they a coupon, gift card, or refund.

Will you always win? No. Will you win more often than not? Absolutely. And, a reward is far more satisfying than telling ten of your friends or getting it off your chest!

Complain – It’s the Frugal Thing to Do!

Let’s face it. The word “complain” has a negative connotation. We’re taught that complaining is a bad thing, something only malcontents and nasty people do. Nice people quietly suffer whatever disservice done them without uttering a syllable – well, at least not ones others can hear.
So, I took out my friend Webster and looked the word up:
1)      to claim or express pain, displeasure etc.
2)      to find fault; declare annoyance.
3)      to make an accusation; bring a formal charge.
Do you see, “A Jerk’s tool…” in front of any of these definitions?
“Fine,” you say. “Maybe it doesn’t make me a jerk. But what does shooting off my mouth have to do with being frugal?”

Psst: First tip about complaining. You don’t “shoot off your mouth.”


Frugal people manage their dollars carefully.

When a purchase gives you angina instead of enjoyment, you wasted money.

Picture this:  
You’ve set this month’s coupon savings aside for a special dinner out. You pick the restaurant, a place you don’t even have a coupon for, and enter the door full of anticipation. The greeter isn’t greeting. They’re chatting with a server about… who cares.
Five minutes you wait; then seven. Already, your anticipation is turning to aggravation.
“Oh, hey, sorry,” when you are acknowledged doesn’t help much. But, this is a special night so you regroup mentally and settle into a nice booth. Where you wait. And wait. And wait…
In the end, the food was so-so and you wish the service came even close to that. Still, you tip, because, you know, you’re frugal, not cheap. And you leave; angry, disappointed, hungry, and darn sure not going back there with next month’s coupon savings stash!!
Or this:
You run to the store for an item that would normally bust your budget if not for “the sale.” Ad in hand, you check where you think the item should be. Nope. You ask for help. “Oh, that’s back in the dairy section.” Off you go, across the store. Search, search. Not there. So you ask someone else. By the time you’ve made four laps around the store, someone finally tells you. “Oh, we don’t have that item. It’s a closeout and we haven’t had it weeks.” Now, you’re angry. The ad doesn’t say close out and you wasted twenty minutes. Still, you say nothing. You don’t even sputter until out of earshot.
Let’s not forget this one:
A huge banner plastered on a building catches your eye as you whiz by. You get whiplash turning to see if it’s true. Yes, yes, it’s screaming for your dollars: 20 % off Everything in Lawn and Garden. A quick u-turn and a few blaring horns later, you’re running across the parking ready to replace that #*?@% wet/dry vac that no longer sucks up anything but your energy when you use it.
You select the model. You’re thrilled. You can’t wait to get it home and suck up enough dead foliage to keep the neighbors from turning you into the HOA. You smile at the cashier, hand over your plastic and… watch it ring at full price.
“What about the 20% off?” you ask. 
“I’m sorry. The 20% off is only for Dept. 73 items.”
Now, you’ve already bonded with this vac. You have to have it. You actually speak up. “The banner didn’t say anything about Dept. 73! How the heck am I supposed to know what’s Dept. 73!   I want my 20% off!!”
“I’m sorry…”
Right now, the only one sucking it up is you. You take the vac anyway. The neighbors are happy. You aren’t.
And, last but not least, the ice cream cones:
You find the cones on sale. You have a coupon. It’s a (F) frugal purchase so you treat the kids. But, you get ‘em home (the cones, not the kids) and find the product damaged. Unless you want ice cream dripping all over, the kids are stuck eating their cones out of a bowl. If you wanted ice cream in a bowl, the half-gallon tub would have been far cheaper.
Each of these incidents did occur. And, in each case I complained because I did not receive the value I expected for my hard-earned dollars. So, how did I do?
The Islands sent me a gift card to try them again. Our second experience still didn’t wow us, but their customer service attitude did. 5 Star Service.
Albertson’s  went above and beyond. The store manager not only brought the product in, he gave us the item at no charge and gave us a gift card for our trouble. 5 Star + Service.
Sears, well, they weren’t so accommodating. We eventually received a credit for the 20%,  but it was WORK to get, and their corporate office, which is how far I went to achieve satisfaction, doesn’t even offer an 800 number. 2 Star Service. I haven’t been back to a Sears since.
And my ice cream cones? I love Nestle. We received coupons for free Drumsticks and coupons for future purchases. Then, they sent more coupons a few weeks later. They were terrific! 5  Star +++ Service!
Don’t misunderstand. Fabricating a complaint is not frugal, it’s theft, and not what we’re advocating! But, when a complaint is rightly earned, it is a disservice – to you, to other consumers, and to the company itself – if you do not allow the organization an opportunity to learn and then make good on their failing. They have hundreds, thousands, who knows how many times each day to make a mistake. Telling ten of your friends they failed doesn’t help them stop future problems, and honestly, most of them do want to meet, if not exceed, your expectations.   
Oh, and by the way, I gave Sears another try. I swear, never, ever, ever again! When confronted with an issue their attitude is just so… snippy. I don’t like Sears. They may have great tools, but  trust me, they don’t have any ‘craftsman’ in their customer service departments!
Next time I’ll give you my top ten, seven, maybe five tips for successful complaining. I haven’t written it yet. Check back, and remember:

A Frugal Fiction book? $3.99. Reading to your child 15 minutes a day. Priceless!