Best and worst in customer service

HOUSTON But there's plenty of poor service to go around. The good news? Consumer Reports says there are ways to get better help.

George Starr knows how to fish around to get good customer service. Starr got Sony to send him a $1,500 flat-screen free of charge when his old TV broke, even though it was out of warranty.

He said, "The only thing I could really summarize it would be, 'Wow!'"

But Consumer Reports found plenty of people aren't happy with customer service. Sixty-four percent said they'd walked out of a store because of poor service in the past year.

Among the worst stores for service are Sam's Club and Walmart. Overall, people complained about phone service, too.

Tod Marks with Consumer Reports explained, "Sixty-seven percent of those surveyed told us they didn't get their problem solved. Their biggest complaints -- too long a wait on hold, can't get a human being and too many menus to navigate to get to a real person."

But websites like Dial-a-Human or Get-Human can help. They list customer service numbers that will get you to a real person. Or do what George Starr did and use social media.

"I found a Facebook site going through Google called 'I Have a Defective Sony TV.' And it gives you the e-mail address, phone numbers, tells you exactly the steps that you need to do," Starr explained.

"Social networking sites such as Facebook and especially Twitter are powerful tools because companies are actually monitoring these sites to listen to what's being said about them," Marks said. "So if you have a complaint, go online."

According to Consumer Reports, some companies do a very good job when it comes to customer service, including Apple, Southwest Airlines and, which sells electronics.

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