While it probably won’t work well in the manufacturing industry, the complaint letter to the CEO is an outstanding method of receiving discounts/refunds from the service industry. Basically, the service industry makes money from word of mouth and repeat business. If you are unhappy with your experience for a legitimate reason, they are likely to try to make it up to you.
Last week, my fiancé and I decided to get out of town for a day. Using my hotel points, a free night in nice (think Hilton, Marriott, Sheraton) level hotel combined with a nice dinner seemed like a good winter treat. Unfortunately, things did not go well on the service front. At checkin, the hotel recommended their “very nice” steakhouse. Since there was bad weather, it seemed like a good plan until we discovered it was closed. The incident was one of six, documented cases of poor service. When we got home, I sent a letter to the CEO of the hotel chain and to the GM of the hotel.
Four days letter, the GM called me to apologize. He researched my complaints and verified the mistakes. To make me happier, he refunded my hotel points times two. While I would have preferred better service over the extra points, his response to my complaint was definitely appreciated.