Websites promise results for consumer complaints

Sites claim to save time, aggravation, but some require fee

By Allison McGinley - News Director

ORLANDO, Fla. - We've seen a growing number of people taking to social media to air their troubles.  They're posting complaints on Facebook or posting videos on you tube.

Now, internet sites are capitalizing on the trend and offering digital dispute resolution.

Neal Alderson says when his expensive sunglasses broke in half he requested a replacement pair from the maker.

He says all he got was the run around. 

So, he posted his complaint on Gripevine for free.

Gripevine contacted the manufacturer, and soon Alderson got some brighter news about his shades

"I got exactly what I wanted, which was a replacement pair of sunglasses," said Alderson.

What makes Gripevine and other new problem-solving sites like Scambook and Peopleclaim different is the instant reaction and billions of eyeballs thanks to the internet.

Gripevine's founder Dave Carroll became a YouTube sensation when he posted this video about an airline he says damaged his guitar and refused to pay for it. 

After a million hits, Carroll says they changed their tune.

"The first two weeks I received 10,000 e-mails congratulating me. But also saying that they felt that they didn't have a voice and they wished they had a voice," said Carroll.

"Social media is what I call the great equalizer when it comes getting your complaint resolved," explained John Breyault with the National Consumers League.

While filing complaints on Carroll's site, Gripevine, is free, others may charge you.

Peopleclaim can help you resolve your dispute, for less than some people spend on coffee.

On Peopleclaim, you can file an initial complaint for free-- and the site will notify the company about your problem.

If the company doesn't respond, you can pay $7.95 and have your dispute posted publicly online.

For $14.95 Peopleclaim will also notify watchdogs, regulators and the media.

Scambook also allows you to file a complaint for free.

And if you're willing to pay about five dollars, they'll assign a personal investigator to your case who will mail certified letters to the company for you each month.

But keep in mind all of these are steps you can take yourself.

None of the companies we highlighted provide mediators or legal services.

And Peopleclaim says if the company you're complaining about doesn't respond to your public post in 90 days, it will refund your $7.95.

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