The Best Way to Complain to a Company on Social Media

Public rants may not get the results you want. Instead, send a private message to give it a chance to respond.

A blue speech bubble with red scribble in it Illustration: Lacey Browne/Consumer Reports, iStock

You’re angry at a company. Its product or service stinks, and you can’t reach anyone to complain. You’re tempted to expose its ineptitude on social media for all the world to see.

But before you send that tweet or Facebook post, consider this: Do you want to get your issue resolved—or do you just want to vent?

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“Give the company the opportunity to fix the issue before you make a scene on social media,” says Shep Hyken, a customer service expert who works with companies to build loyal customer relationships.

A less confrontational approach can often bring better results, Hyken says. With that in mind, here’s a guide to help you get what you want—without raising your blood pressure:

  • Don’t Twitter-shame the company right away. Instead, send the company a direct message rather than a public tweet. “When a company sees you’re direct messaging them through a social channel, they know you have the ability to not direct message them, and sometimes they appreciate that you did it this way,” Hyken says. “It may elicit a quicker, more helpful response.”
  • Be sure that you’re reaching out to—and interacting with—an official company account. On Twitter, it will usually have a checkmark in a blue circle next to it to indicate its authenticity.
  • Especially when you’re dealing with a bank or a financial services company, sending a direct message also helps you avoid scams. Some fraudsters may respond to your public tweet by saying they’re a company representative when all they’re trying to do is steal your money.
  • Don’t threaten the company in your DM. Simply say, “I thought the best way to reach you would be through social media, and I thought, even better would be to direct message you, so I can get a quicker response.”
  • Once you engage with a customer service rep, explain your situation, but no matter how frustrated and angry you might be, it’s important to be nice. Don’t put the person on the defensive. You want them on your side. If they’re properly trained or they understand the situation, they’ll show you empathy and help you with your problem.
  • Manage your expectations. Don’t plan on getting a response in 5 minutes; you can realistically expect a response within a day or so.

Image of Octavio Blanco, editor at CR with Money CIA

Octavio Blanco

My mission: To write stories that broaden readers' horizons and offer new solutions they can apply to their lives. Who I write for: My family, my friends, my neighbors, myself, and—most important—you. My passions: Music, art, coffee, cheese, good TV, and riding my electric bike (for now). Find me on Twitter: @octavionyc