Whine a little for me

Got a problem? This site will serve your complaint -- for a fee.


As if we needed further proof that the United States is a nation of
demanding shopaholics, the PR pipeline is gushing with news of
innovative technologies and services promising to empower consumers and enhance their experience. In May it was Ebay’s href="http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,36522,00.html?pt.salon">move to offer a
paging service that can instantly alert auction fans when they’ve been
outbid on that plastic John Lennon figurine or some other must-have item.
And now, it’s the June 1 debut of href="http://www.complain.com">Complain.com, a site that aims to
address consumer dissatisfaction. CEO Steven Ericsson-Zenith calls it
“a letter writing service with leverage.”

If you think you’ve been ripped off or unfairly treated in some way, you
can post a note to Complain.com, and — for $19.95 — the service will find
the “customer care executive” and the CEO of the company that failed to
serve you well and pen a finger-wagging letter on your behalf. Complain.com sends you the letters, so you can include any supporting evidence for your claim. If the letters don’t work, Complain.com will send faxes. And if that doesn’t work? You’re out 20 bucks.

It sounds a little pricey for hunting down the CEO and tapping out your
troubles on the keyboard. But Complain.com expects to build a reputation
with retailers, credit bureaus and the like, so that its letters will carry
extra clout. And, when it gets an executive’s ear, Complain.com will
suggest that the company that caused your pain reimburse you for using
the service. Eventually, the site hopes to offer legal assistance — or at
least a bevy of loud complainers who will call and harass those CEOs on
your behalf. Still, it doesn’t sound too different from that old standard,
the href="http://www.bbb.org/complaints/consumerform.html">Better Business
and its dispute resolution service.

But wait — there’s more! Consumer advocate David Horowitz (who is not the same person as neoconservative Salon columnist David Horowitz) is also getting
into the picture with his href="http://www.fightback.com">FightBack Web site, promising to
“facilitate the resolution of consumer problems!” And href="http://www.complaintous.com/">Complain To Us offers a similar
service, with a very hands-on approach: writing, faxing, e-mailing,
calling — whatever it takes to get your problem solved — at a cost of
$50 an hour.

With everyone and their brother trying to emulate Ebay and Amazon.com by
setting up auction and e-commerce sites all over the Web, maybe it’s only
natural that another group would rush behind them to set up consumer
complaint shacks. At least the next time there’s an href="http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,36924,00.html?pt.salon">outage at Ebay — or, God forbid, the paging service fails to alert you and you miss out on that Lennon doll — you’ll know where to write.

Kaitlin Quistgaard, Salon's former technology editor, writes frequently about the arts and South America, where she once lived.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>