Complaining to a company--address?

Hardly a GQ, so we’ll try here…

For long and boring reasons, I was just pointed to the web site of a company/association/.org that offers college scholarships with all the markings of a scam. While I wouldn’t care so much about this on the surface (there are plenty of them out there), on a couple of pages there are advertising banners for a major consumer electronics company. I’m a little pissed that this company would advertise with people that are so blatantly ripping students off (their BBB record is not exactly pretty) and excluding students from a very particular university (mine; if everyone else is going to be scammed, why can’t we?). More importantly, however, I get the feeling for various reasons that this may not be real advertising; i.e. I think it may be there without that company’s knowledge, as a means to lend some sense of legitimacy to the whole thing.

So (getting to the point), I want to write to the supposedly advertising company, to point this out if they don’t know about it, and to complain if they do. I found the address of their main US headquarters, but all of the contacts are just “division name”, then the same address. So, to what division or title should I write if I want this to make it past a mail clerk or secretary somewhere? Thanks for any help!

Go to a library and ask. There are reference books that most large libraries have. I believe it is Dun and Bradstreet. It lists the officers of the companies and their addresses. Since you say it is a major company, it should be listed. I agree with you that it is better to send your comments to a specific person in the company.

I’d recommend the VP Marketing, and write on the envelope CUSTOMER COMPLAINT. Printouts from the website with the advertisement would help big time. The electronics company should have a website with a way to send e-mails to them. These typically get to Customer Service or Marketing. Keep copies of everything, and re-send in two weeks if you do not have a reply. Give your telephone number in the correspondence, it is MUCH easier for them to call you, than write you. Good luck.

UncleBill is on the right track, but if I can refine it a bit within the Marketing department, I’d suggest getting in touch with the Public Relations/Public Affairs department or group. They are often part of the Marketing department.

Public Relations departments are usually concerned with the company’s name–they like to, for instance, make sure that the company is well-treated in the press so that the name carries no bad connotations.

For this reason, it seems to me that they would be most concerned if the company’s name was being used in the advertising appearing on a website that is a scam.

Just as an aside, get the name of a person to whom you can write at the company. Telephone first and ask for the PR department. When you’re connected, get a person’s name. PR flacks are usually pretty free with handing out their names, and from what I’ve experienced, an envelope addressed to “Mr. John Smith” will usually make it past the mail room quickly and safely while one addressed to “Marketing Department” sometimes won’t–it has to be opened and somebody has to figure out whom to forward it to.

If that’s a real ad on the scam site, it quite likely comes from one of the companies that place ad banners. It wouldn’t hurt to complain to them as well.

To find out, view the page source (it’s under View on the menu in both Netscape and IE) and look for a link to some other server whose name sounds like an advertiser. Copy the base name of the site (e.g. “http://www.whatever.com/”, up to the first single slash) and paste it into the location bar. That page will probably give contact info.