I am terrible at knowing how to complain when things are not right and either do it really well or really terribly because I am just too emotional about something. Here is a guest post from Helen who is an absolute expert in complaining and shares her top tips for complaining effectively.
Helen Dewdney is The Complaining Cow, a consumer champion. She’s a blogger, journalist and consultant who works with businesses to improve their customer service and complaint handling. She is also an author of two books How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds Redress and Results! and 101 Habits of an Effective Complainer. Helen has provided a code “Jen15” which will give you 15% off these publications. Please let her know if you would like a special message inside the book when she signs them.
1) Always put your complaint in writing
This is really important.
If you phone you will not have a record of what you said, so will not have evidence should you need to take the matter further. In addition to this, you can forget things, lose the connection or lose your cool!
Many traders are now not providing an email address to force you to phone. However, do not be beaten! Go to CEOemail.com where you will find the email addresses of UK CEOs. The CEO may not respond personally, although some do, it will get the matter escalated and into the system so that you have a record of what you have written.
2) Be polite
However upset or angry you may feel you still need to be polite. If you are rude then the company to which you are writing is less likely to want to try and help you.
3) Be objective when you complain
Keep to the facts. Whether you liked the pink carpet in the hotel or not is irrelevant. Describing the broken bed is!
4) Refer to consumer law where you can
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 entitles you to goods that are free from defects, are of satisfactory quality, last a reasonable length of time and are as described. It also entitles you to services that are carried out with reasonable skill and care. If the product or service you have purchased does not meet these requirements, the trader is in breach of the law. This gives a lot of weight to your complaint.
5) Make it easy for the reader
If the complaint is complicated, use bullet points. Put things in chronological order and make them simple to follow.
6) Say what you want
People often forget this. You need to tell the trader what is it is that you want. Is it an apology? Is it a refund? A repair? If you do not tell the trader what it is that you want you won’t get what you want! It’s as simple as that!
Tell the trader when you expect to receive a response. In these days of emails, a week is fine, even if it is only to get an initial acknowledgement saying that they will investigate the matter. This deadline should focus them on responding, especially when you put all the other points in this blog together!
Any follow up correspondence should also give a deadline for response.
8) Provide your evidence
Attach evidence such as photographs, copies of receipts and any correspondence you may have received, etc. Refer to this in your email or letter.
9) Tell them what you will do
A good line to use at the end of your email/letter is “Should I not be fully satisfied with your response I will not hesitate in taking the matter further. This will include but not be limited to…” Here you can put things like going to the relevant ombudsman, making a claim through the Small Claims Court, sharing your experiences in online forums, etc.
10) Take it further
Should the trader not provide you with a satisfactory response, you can follow up once saying that their response is not acceptable and giving the reasons why. Then begin the next stage in the process.
If you haven’t already contacted the CEO, you can do that. If you want to threaten the Small Claims Court, go online, fill out all the details right up to where you have to submit and pay. In the section on claiming, add the court fee and any out of pocket expenses you would incur such as petrol, parking, etc. Take a screenshot and attach it to the email, stating that should they not respond appropriately (by a given date), you will start the proceedings with no further recourse to them.
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Books: How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and 5 ways to get rave reviews & referrals free download https://www.business.thecomplainingcow.co.uk
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