10 Types of Complainer Which Are You?

What type of complainer are you?

What type of complainer are you?

I believe that there are many types of complainers. Whatever type you are, this book will help you become more effective in your complaining.

The Professional Complainer
This title annoys me. A lot. I often get asked if I am a professional complainer. It is an utterly ridiculous term. I haven’t trained to be a complainer. I haven’t got any qualifications in complaining and I don’t do it as a job although  I do now take up people’s complaints for them when all else has failed and they need some help. I see this as providing consultancy advice and  not  what people mean when they ask “Are you a Professional Complainer?” No-one is a professional complainer. It is insulting to those with a profession.

The Serial Complainer
I often get asked if I am this kind of a complainer too. I think this term is best suited to people who complain continually to the same company. Frequently they have been offered some redress but they keep on spending a disproportionate amount of time on complaints. They ‘phone the company, send emails, send letters and never give up – often over trivial matters.

The Extreme Complainer
Similar to the Serial Complainer, this person complains when the time spent is not comparable with the possible redress gained. S/he will complain about anything and everything sometimes with an end in mind but usually just for the sake of it and not because they feel genuinely aggrieved. There’s a difference between complaining about the principle of some rotten apples for £1 and complaining about the assistant who annoyingly asks “Can I help you?” and hangs around when you just want to browse. That’s subjective and annoys the heck out of me and I’ll moan about it but I won’t complain to anyone to gain redress!

The Dishonest Complainer
Serial and extreme complainers probably give people who complain effectively and regularly with good reason a bad name. In addition to wasting their own time they often waste customer service’s staff time which could be better spent with reasonable complainers. But the Dishonest Complainers are in a league of their own. They make up stories and complaints, putting hairs in meals for example, just to gain freebies.

The Opportunist Complainer
Similarities with The Dishonest Complainer, The Opportunist Complainers look for opportunities to complain and gain something to which they are usually not entitled, often keeping on at customer services until they are paid to “go away”.

The Rude Complainer
This type of complainer can often be ineffective, serial and/or extreme. Swearing and shouting at staff and/or writing abusive letters/emails rightly rarely gains redress.

The Amusing Complainer
These complainers are a little bit different. Really good amusing complainers have gained media coverage for their complaints, such as the Sons of Maxwell’s “United Breaks Guitars” song that went viral. (See it on Youtube) and the hilarious letter written to Richard Branson regarding the food on a Virgin flight. Amusing Complainers don’t always need to know their legal rights if their correspondence is entertaining enough and the receiver has a sense of humour. This complaining style is usually effective but sometimes humour doesn’t gain redress and to ensure that they will need to become an effective complainer.

The Innovative Complainer
These are to be admired I have to say. Being innovative will usually work. Often the Amusing Complainer falls into this category but to be truly innovative the quality needs to be more than just enough to make friends and family smile. My cousin ‘phoned up a toy manufacturer’s CEO’s secretary and pretended to be from the BBC in order to gain access to the CEO. She was put through to him directly and went through her complaint. It can’t be done with every complaint but when a complainer is innovative the response is usually good.

The Ineffective Complainer
This person tries. Not assertive, not knowing their legal rights, ineffective complainers try to get refunds but rarely get them. They get fobbed off when they try and complain. The Ineffective Complainer may vent a tweet or a post on a Facebook page but not follow it up to gain redress.

The Effective Complainer.
In order to always gain redress one needs to be an effective complainer. The Effective Complainers know their legal rights, assert them politely and will not be fobbed off – when the company they paid tries to blame the manufacturer or delivery company for example.

Do you want to become more effective? Tips on my Youtube channel and Top 20 Tips here. So, what kind of complainer are you?

 

I believe that there are many types of complainers. Whatever type you are, this book will help you become more effective in your complaining.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Your Rights, Mail Order, Online and Deliveries

Mail order and online purchases
Your rights when purchasing items through an advert or catalogue are exactly the same as buying from any other retailer, so your correspondence about faulty items would be covered under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended  The Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994). In addition, under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 consumers have 14 days cooling off period for changing their minds. There are some exceptions to this such as bespoke items. Whether or not return postage has to be paid depends on the trader’s terms and conditions.

This Act provided specific coverage for digital content. Digital content must not be supplied by the retailer within the 14 cooling off period unless the customer has agreed to it and that once the download starts the cancellation right is lost. If the customer does not give consent then s/he will have to wait until after the 14 days before downloading. Having bought the wrong download and realising it before I actually downloaded but before this new law came out I welcome this Act! All I could do was tell them that the Law was changing!

Delivery
The aforementioned Act also states that goods must be delivered within the time frame agreed with the seller. If one hasn’t been agreed (you have agreed a time frame if the listing supplies a time frame) the trader must deliver ‘without undue delay’ and at the very latest not more than 30 days from the day after the contract is made. After this time you are entitled to a full refund.

Of course, deliveries must also be carried out with reasonable skill and care. See my experience with the Body Shop here. I was on the ITV news regarding that story, I gave advice which they cut and Martin Lewis said if we complained more then service would improve. Something that followers of me on  Twitter and read this blog know that I bang on about a lot!

It was on the Meridian ITV website with an article. (Peter’s story is here). Told my Mum who just pointed out that they had spelt my name incorrectly. So I said did she watch the clip?! “Yes ok” was the response. I had told her that I might be on Ripped Off Britain again, I think she has visions of me being a presenter and getting above myself! However, a couple of pops at ranting do not a presenter make! And even if it did can you see me getting above myself? I think not, more likely to have a go at anyone I come across who is rude! Mind you, Laura (the presenter) said the carpet was cream. She must have thought the carpet was filthy because it was never cream! It is a dark pinky purple beigey type thing!

Further protection
Should consumers order an item from an advertisement in a newspaper which is signed up to the Safe Home Ordering Scheme (previously known as the Mail Ordering Protection Scheme) they can get their money back if the trader goes into liquidation or stops trading. Keep a copy of the advert when ordering until the item has been received.

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The Ultimate Guide to Complaining When Eating Out

We all love eating out, but sometimes it doesn’t always go right. What to do when that happens:

Bookings
A booking for a meal should be honoured. If it is not speak to the manager and try to come to some agreement perhaps a free drink while you wait for the table. If this cannot be done then ensure you inform the manager that you will be taking the matter further to claim compensation. If the booking was for a special occasion then this could be reflected in any compensation claim. Make sure that the establishment knows that the booking is for a special occasion and what that is. You can claim for loss of enjoyment and disappointment. You can also claim for out of pocket expenses such as travel. In theory you could take the matter to court but I would advise only do this where you have clear evidence that the establishment was aware of the occasion and there was significant inconvenience, otherwise it is very subjective and risky but yes of course I would and I would win!

Do try to find an alternative place to eat and evidence your attempts when complaining at the time and follow up. Remember a booking works both ways and whilst an establishment is in breach of contract if it fails to keep a booking it could, in theory, charge you for not keeping a booking!

Don't eat it and complain

Don’t eat it and complain

Unsatisfactory food
When it comes to unsatisfactory food or drink many of us, me included feel awkward complaining. Well, I never feel awkward complaining, more specifically I mean never knowing what someone may do to your food if you send it back. Before the many good restaurant, café and pub staff throw their arms up and say “Not me” we have all heard of stories where staff have spat on food and worse. Many have been on the media telling us what they do so it is a difficult decision. However, you must complain at the time to be taken seriously and to be able to follow up. Quote the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 which entitles you to food and service that reflects the establishment. i.e. compare  a similar place serving similar food. You do have the choice of refusing a replacement course and deducting the price of the unsatisfactory item from your bill. If you are made to pay under protest complain in writing later and if possible write “Paid under protest” on the bill and take a photo of it.

Do not eat the food that you are complaining about.

Now most of us have our mobile ‘phones with us it is possible to take photographic evidence of food which can be used as evidence. Ensure that the photo clearly shows that it is from the establishment. You can of course, if technically savvy enough, get the location and date and time on it. Bear in mind that one person’s view of what is satisfactory may be very different to another, so be sure of your claim to redress.

Service
You are legally entitled to not pay the service charge if service was poor. If the charge has been absorbed into the meal then you can deduct a reasonable amount e.g. 10%. Again, use the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 which entitles you to services to be carried out with “reasonable skill and care”.

Here’s an example about complaining about poor service in a café.

Food poisoning
If you believe that you have received food poisoning from an establishment where you have eaten then contact your doctor immediately. Proving that the poisoning was caused by the trader may be difficult, obviously it is made easier if more than one of you was affected. Under the Food Act 1990 it is a criminal offence for a business to serve food unfit for human consumption. You should therefore also inform the local Environmental Health Department.

Depending on the severity of the illness and your out of pocket expenses (such as loss of earnings) you may want to take legal advice regarding how much compensation to which you are entitled. In the first instance you can write directly.

Water
Personally, I object to paying for water. I am lucky to live in a developed country and therefore do not need to have bottled water. In addition I pay water rates therefore the water IS paid for! It is perfectly safe. People who drink bottled water for “health reasons” confuse me as there are no proven health benefits whatsoever.

The reason for including this here is because new licensing conditions came into force April 2010 ensuring that pubs, clubs and bars are obliged to provide free water where reasonably available. Annoyingly this does not include restaurants. However, it is illegal for a restaurant to try and pass tap water off as bottled water.

Tell us about your experiences eating out?

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7 Common Fob Offs that Companies Use to Not Give Refunds!

Many companies and individuals will try and fob you off in order not to give you a refund or redress. Below are some common ones of which you should be aware and know how to deal with.

Know the rules

“We do not give refunds” signs like this are illegal and you can report them to Trading Standards. Traders do not have to give you a refund if you have simply changed your mind about a purchase or the jumper didn’t fit for example, but if the item is faulty you are legally entitled to a full refund. (Unless the fault was pointed out at time of purchase).

“You/we will send it back to the manufacturer” Your contract is always with whoever received your money. If you buy a kettle from store A which was made by company B and that kettle stops working after a few months you are entitled to a full refund from A.

“You will need to contact the delivery firm” That kettle you bought from store A was delivered to your house and the delivery driver dropped it, or left it on the doorstep and it was stolen. Store A is wrong to tell you to contact the delivery firm. Your contract is with store A and you claim your refund from it. It can claim from the delivery firm!

“You should have taken out a warranty” Warranties are rarely worth the paper they are written on in my opinion! Items should last a reasonable length of time, a washing machine should last more than 6 months so it is wholly irrelevant if you have taken out a warranty. You do not even have to accept a repair in this instance, you are entitled to a full refund.

“We don’t take back items bought in the sale” unless the fault was pointed out at time of purchase (and therefore contributed to the sale price) your legal rights remain the same as if the item was sold at full price.

“You caused the fault” As a general rule of thumb, if an item breaks up to 6 months from purchase then it is up to the trader to prove that the fault was caused by you and was not there at time of purchase and therefore you are legally entitled to the full refund.

“You don’t have the receipt so we can’t give a refund” the law states proof of purchase so this could be a credit card bill, easier to find online now than an old receipt.

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How to Use The Misrepresentation Act 1967

Misrepresentation Act 1967

Been mis-sold a contract? Use the Misrepresentation Act 1967

This is a much underused Law. (It doesn’t cover Scotland but Scottish Law is broadly similar). It protects the consumer from being mis-led or mis-sold goods or services. If you enter into a contract and purchase an item or service because you believed a statement (not an opinion) regarding it, then you can end the contract, get a refund and claim compensation. There are three types of Misrepresentation where a false statement was made:

Fraudulently – statement made by someone that they know is untrue, believe it is untrue or is made recklessly
Negligently – statement made carelessly or without reasonable grounds for believing its truth.
Innocently – statement made without fault

Fraudulent/negligent statements
If you entered a contract as a result of a fraudulent or negligent statement you can cancel the contract. You can also claim damages in most cases. These claims are on the basis of negligence or fraud. The person who made the misrepresentation has to disprove the negligence. So for example, if you book a holiday on the basis that it is a holiday where children are not allowed and find that when you arrive the place is overrun with children then this is a clear breach. I used the Act  as part of a complaint for a story regarding misrepresenting a holiday booking.

Innocent statements
This is considered to be when either party enters into a contract having reasonable grounds for believing that his or her false statement was true. The contract is usually just cancelled in this situation.

Under Section 2(2) Misrepresentation Act 1967 the court has the discretion to award damages instead of allowing you to end the contract if it deems it appropriate. It cannot award both, judged on nature of misrepresentation and losses suffered.

Limitations
If you chose to continue with the contract although you were aware of the misrepresentation you will not be able to end the contract or claim damages. For example if you booked a holiday knowing that the hotel described in the brochure was family friendly but you knew this was a mis-print due to other factors in the brochure or had had it pointed out to you and you proceeded with the booking you will have, in law, “affirmed” the contract.

You need to act quickly after discovering the misrepresentation. For example, if you have been sold a mobile ‘phone contract on the basis of receiving 500 free texts a month and you have continued to use the ‘phone for a few months before complaining about being charged for them a court may say that you should have complained the first month in which you were charged. All cases are different though and are assessed as such.

I quoted this Act in a case against NatWest and Sunmaster. Which category of statement do you think they fell into? Have you used this Act? Will you now you know about it?!

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