New company resolves business grievances

Gary Robinson, director of SMU's Center for Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management, talks about helping consumers resolve business disputes.

By William Pack
The San Antonio Express-News

Jo Ann Lopez got tired of the runaround from local hospital officials after being overbilled for a surgery she had a year ago, so she sought assistance early this year from a new neighborhood business, Customer Service Advocates.

Lopez said Customer Service and its founder, Kelli O'Keefe, knew exactly what to do. . .

Customer Service Advocates takes on customer complaints about business practices for $60 an hour after an initial consultation. O'Keefe said most cases are resolved within five to 10 hours.

O'Keefe said other customers have had the same kind of results as Lopez from her services, which started about 10 months ago when O'Keefe decided the skills she developed in the sales arena could be used to resolve grievances in business. . .

Gary Robinson, director of the Center for Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management at Southern Methodist University, said the center trains people to intervene and help the sides resolve business disputes without advocating for one party or the other.

The field is growing, and Robinson said he assumes companies like Customer Service Advocates that make claims for only one party in the dispute also are in demand.

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