Most manufacturers/companies will help you solve problems with their products. On this site I have articles for specific products that are based on this approach. A few examples are plumbing fixtures, Genie garage openers and Crayola marks.
Look for the phone number on the manufacturer's website in a Contact Us link. Try to find the manufacturer's phone number on my list, or by calling 800 information at 1-800-555-1212, or using an internet business phone index. Call and ask them about your problem. They'll usually want your model number and maybe the serial number. When their tone jail asks if you want to order parts or speak to a technical support person, you want the person. If they don't offer a person you can sometimes get one by pressing '0'.
The following are somewhat less likely to bear fruit, but they often do, especially for simpler problems.
If the above fails, look up dealers who specialize in this brand and product -- first
look in the local yellow pages, then on the internet, taking those with 800 numbers
calling until you hit one who will explain what to do.
A Corollary -- Getting Replacements
I've had good luck getting defective small items (Up to a pound and $20) replaced by finding the company on the web and emailing them a picture of the defect or broken item. Digital cameras make this pretty easy. If they give an email address on their website then attach or include the picture with your email explaining the problem and asking if there's a fix for your problem. If they only have a web email form that won't accept attachments, upload your pictures to this free website and include links to the pictures in your message -- like this . Very often they will offer to send you a replacement part or item. The really good ones (e.g., Aspects feeders) will send you one outright with no fuss. This isn't the common case. Most want your defective item back Second to no fuss are the people who will send you a prepaid mailer, third are the ones who send you a prepaid label and you supply the package (e.g., Dioptics). Fourth are the ones who will send you a coupon for a replacement and ask that you package and pay mailing to send yours back when you get the coupon (e.g., Kong. Fifth, are the ones who demand you package and ship your failed item to them and, upon receipt they will send a replacement. Last are the ones that just say "We're sorry you had a bad experience with our product, but up yours, Jack." I've found these about as uncommon as the really good ones. Actually they're not the worst. The worst are the ones in the group five who demand you package and ship your failed item to them, then refuse to send the promised replacement for one reason or the other. Usually, because "I'm sorry sir, but there is no record of our receiving your item." Because I've met this number five guy, I no longer send the item first unless the trouble and cost make it a good gamble. Be sure to get a "care of" person's name to ship to so you know who to blame if they claim they didn't get it.