'Great Equalizer' Websites Prove To Have The Clout To Get Disputes Resolved

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Trying to get a refund or a replacement for a product that has already been paid for is something that everybody has experienced, but some companies are notorious for giving customers the runaround and making satisfaction hard to come by.

Neal Alderson recently told CBS 2’s Dana Tyler that he was struggling to get his pricey sunglasses fixed, until he posted a complaint on a site called Gripevine.

“I got exactly what I wanted, which was a replacement pair of sunglasses,” he said.

The idea for Gripevine was born after an airline broke founder Dave Carroll’s guitar and refused to pay for it. Carroll posted a video about the guitar online and 1 million hits later the airline paid up.

“In the first two weeks I received 10,000 emails congratulating me…but also saying that they didn’t have a voice, and wished they had a voice,” Carroll said.

By giving consumers a place to voice their concerns publicly websites like Scam Book and Peopleclaim level the playing field, according to advocates.

“Social media is what I call ‘the great equalizer’ when it comes to getting your complaint resolved,” The National Consumers League’s John Breyault said.

While filing on some sites is free, others may charge a fee. Peopleclaim charges $7.95 to file a complaint, but offers a refund if your problem is not resolved in 90 days, CBS 2’s Tyler reported.

Filing a complaint is free on Scam Book, but for $4.99 a month it will send a monthly complaint letter to a company on your behalf.

Gripevine does not charge.

“It’s a very quick easy way to get your situation dealt with,” Alderson said.

Scam Book claims to have resolved more than $10 million in disputes. Peopleclaim says that it has resolved more than half of the claims filed on its site.

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