Take complaints directly to business

A woman called People’s Platform last week with a complaint against the Salvation Army Store in Red Wing.

Her comments will not be published but have been passed along to the store manager. The comments overstepped the bounds of the Platform on a couple of counts.

The Republican Eagle has a pretty strict policy against publishing comments about private businesses – whether the comments are in the Platform or a letter to the editor, whether the comments are positive or negative.

That’s fairly standard policy among newspapers. Comments typically are out of order unless the business or issue happens to be in the public arena. For instance, we have published comments about Super Valu’s expansion and its effect on downtown traffic.

The Salvation Army is nonprofit and in some respects a quasipublic operation. As such, we gave consideration to printing the comment.

But our underlying message is that individuals should take complaints directly to businesses. It probably has a greater chance of spurring action.

A personal call or visit to the store will give the opportunity to discuss the complaint. Though this particular comment concerned a private business, we encourage callers with complaints about public agencies to first contact those entities as well.

Publicly “branding” a company – public or private – might result in embarrassment and give the caller some self-satisfaction. But it doesn’t really lay the foundation for meaningful resolution of problems between customer and business.