It often pays to speak up. We, as consumers, carry a lot of clout, and companies large and small are clamoring for our input. Most love to hear from us, and our feedback is invaluable to them—enough so that they often reward us.

When I find a product I like, I make a point of contacting the company.  For example, at our house, we really like almond milk. Our two favorite brands are Silk Pure Almond and Blue Diamond Almond Breeze. Both of their websites offer coupons—and a money-back guarantee. By the way, the Silk Pure Almond Dark Chocolate is very good!

Whenever a product does not meet your expectations, contact the company. Almost every company has either a toll-free number or an e-mail address. In most cases, the company will send you one or more coupons that more than compensate for your purchase price. It’s helpful to have the packaging so that you can provide the barcode number and any imprinted manufacturing information. This will help the company investigate the source of the problem in order to prevent it from happening again.

Recently, I purchased four jars of mild salsa. When I used the first jar, it was more than mild—it was hot! All four jars had the identical manufacturing code on them. I e-mailed the company, provided the information, and promptly received five coupons for replacements in the mail.

Although not as likely to garner any coupons, contacting companies with compliments or concerns is still a potent path for consumers—especially vegans. In fact, since complaints are the norm for most customer service reps, compliments can carry much more weight. If a consumer goes to the trouble of contacting a company in order to praise a product, the company is more likely to take note.

Sometimes I contact a company with a suggestion or a quirky question about a product. For example, I keep several jars of banana baby food on hand to use in recipes that call for mashed bananas. It’s convenient since I never seem to have overripe bananas when I need them. Just one problem: there’s no indication of how many bananas are in a jar. So I called the company. Turns out, a 6-oz. jar equals one-and-a-half bananas—and the company loved the idea of its product serving as a baking ingredient!

When a company changes ingredients, making the product vegan—whether intentional or not—I let the company know that as a vegan, I appreciate the change, and I urge the company to pass my comments along. On the other hand, when a company changes the ingredients of a product and it’s no longer vegan—or it introduces a nonvegan variety of a product I like—I let the company know how disappointed I am, and I ask the customer service representatives to pass my comments on to management.

Food Should Taste Good is a great company that makes all natural—and delicious—chips. Its website offers a coupon. Until recently, all its chips were vegan. Then it introduced two cheddar-cheese varieties. I immediately contacted the company, praising it for its many vegan varieties but expressing my dismay with its nonvegan additions.

Let your consumer voice be heard—and you might even be rewarded. Do you have any examples to share?