Complaining is good for your health!

Complaining is frequently thought of as negative. But followers of this blog will know that I don’t see it like that all and when I posed the question on LinkedIn I think I made it quite clear how complaining can be positive if done in the right way.  But not only can it be a positive thing it can also be good for your health.

Imagine this. You’ve spent a quite a bit of money on that telly and within weeks it isn’t working properly. Slightly stressful. You are becoming increasingly annoyed about not being able to watch your favourite programmes properly, eventually contacting the trader to be told that as it’s now over 6 months you will have to pay for the telly to be sent for a repair. That’s a rise in blood pressure likelihood. You have to pay more money and be without the telly for ages. That makes you very stressed and puts strain on your heart. Too much stress is bad for your health. Had you followed some simple tips for complaining effectively, stress would not have accumulated and you would be a happy bunny sat in front of your new telly.

Whilst you were without your telly you were complaining and that was negative. No, not in my world. What you were doing was moaning and at best complaining ineffectively. That has a negative impact on your whole outlook.

Here’s how it could have been different.

1) Telly stops working have an almighty scream at it and everything around. That will make you feel better as a vent often does.

2) Then do something about it. Focus on a solution. Continuing to focus on the problems and how they are affecting you have a negative effect. Contact the trader explain the problem and request a refund, repair or replacement. (More details here). This approach will provide you with a positive outlook.

3) If the trader tried to fob you off, assert your legal rights. Common fob offs and how to deal with them here. That will certainly make you feel positive and strong.

4) Complain in writing if you don’t get what you want from the outset. It will make you feel better venting your frustrations and you can rewrite and rewrite until you are happy with it. You can’t do that when speaking and complaining in writing stops emotional outbursts which are likely not to get you anything you want in any case.

 

And of course, to complain effectively you need the book! :) :) :)

So, who hasn’t felt better after successfully complaining and who has felt good moaning about or ignoring a faulty item and doing nothing productive to get the matter resolved?

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The Complaining Cow v Tesco CEO & Executive Team

Oh hello, here for another Tesco story? Well, as followers of this blog know well, Tesco and me? Well we have history shall we say. :) :) :)  The very first blog post was complaining about Tesco. Then there was taking them to court, insects in rice, milk bottles versus cola bottles and then my opinion on why Clarke had to go. Then I met the new chappie, Dave Lewis. Liked him, he bought a hundred of my books (at full price, take that Amazon) for his board and most senior people (time will tell if I continue to like him, he hardly had a difficult act to follow and there’s so much to do) and he invited me back to meet some of the team and have lunch.

Lunch 3 course meal cooked by the senior development chef  Pat Clifford thank you very much, was very good indeed. Guess who was always the last to finish each course because they had the most to say?!

Download (PDF, 331KB)

I know you don’t want to download the menu but that thing came up and I don’t know how to get rid of it!

Issues Apparently I am one of Tesco’s most engaged (with them, I don’t have a collection of rings) customers. So who else has had so many dealings with Tesco? Oh, ah, hmmmm. Moving swiftly on….what a jolly nice day out. Couple of hours of giving my opinions again. Fabulous. Can’t remember half of what I said, but here are a few things, as I also shared what many of you complained to me about Tesco that are being/will be addressed…..

  1. All those flipping pieces of paper and coupons you have at the till – they are looking at trying to improve that.
  2. Checkout assistants shouldn’t be asking us if we want carrier bags, just leave them there we aren’t going to take more than we need!
  3. There may be very few of us who are this daft, but you know when you do your shopping online and you order 10 kg bags of carrots or 10 punnets of fruit when you meant 10 single pieces? Told them they need to have something that comes up, “Did you mean to do that?” You can either tell it yes you did thank you very much or cry out your much over used expletive of choice and correct it.
  4. Told them that their triple chocolate cookies from the bakery are good but aren’t as good as Sainsbury’s.
  5. Tell us why something is coming up as not in stock online and the system is suggesting you have this alternative, particularly when it is more expensive!
  6. Wine by the case site as well as Tesco grocery site – don’t put bottles of wine that are out of stock in the offers. That. Really. Annoys me.
  7. Going to be back to chat to the woman in charge of community stuff – too right that will be a few hours with both work hats on!
  8. Sorting out the shelves, one of the most common complaints I hear about Tesco, stuff not on the shelves (or in the freezer)
  9. Improve communications between the social media team and customer service
  10. You’ll like this one. Customer opinions on new products. Did you know that no product goes on the shelves without a bunch of people of people testing and giving their opinions on it? No, nor did I. Did you know that they were looking for loads more people? No, nor did I. Would you ignore such a request? No, nor would I. So, instead of rambling on here even more than usual, I have asked Helen (no, not me I don’t write like that) to write a guest blog post. Coming soon a post about what is involved and how to get on the programme. You’re welcome :)

There was some other stuff but that’s commercially sensitive so you’ll have to wait :P

The guide dog issue Remember this story? The staff who told the woman she wasn’t allowed the guide dog in the store? Tesco was reported as having given £5,000 to charity and put training in place and that was it. I wasn’t going anywhere without addressing this story and as those of you who follow the blog know, I’m harsh but always fair. (I even thank Tesco in my book for providing such diabolical service which resulted in providing great material for the blog which gained so much interest it encouraged me to write the thing!)

Why on earth would you need to train someone that guide dogs are ok in stores? When the staff didn’t grow up in the UK and they have no knowledge or understanding of guide dogs (or hearing dogs etc.)

I was also going to go into one about how typical of Tesco it was to throw £5k at the problem and run away and why didn’t they buy a dog.  Tesco has bought a puppy. It takes 50k from breeding through training to retirement to pay for a guide dog and they have done that. Due to be born in January I believe.

Payment Gotta laugh – the cheque for the books had been made payable to “The Complaining Cow”. Don’t actually have an account in that name… hands up all those hoping I don’t get paid so I take them to court again?

Presents Who doesn’t love presents? Look what I was given to go home with -

I always say reward your complainers - they increase your profits!

I always say reward your complainers – they increase your profits!

Lots of the Tesco finest range but didn’t include my favourite chocolate truffles (ungrateful cow), included an 8 portion luxury Xmas pud (loathe! But OH very pleased) mince pies, chocolate, tea, nuts and cheesy bics.

 

 

 

So Tesco has won me over How very dare you. I won’t stop complaining to Tesco until there is nothing left to complain about. And anyway the spies at Tesco said that I had tweeted Tesco 519 times. Think it’s slightly more than that now! Social media team has promised me this chocolate (they need to change those ball things to red though!) and alcohol when we reach a 1000 so that’s quite a few more complaints to go. And I leave you with one now. I was working late and tried to get link to those chocolate shoes and couldn’t. Black Friday early hours and couldn’t get onto the site. Sort it out Tesco.

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How to complain about an item over a year old

The Sale of Goods Act 1979/Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994
Generally speaking if the item is less than 6 months old and the item is faulty then the consumer should receive a full refund (minus any depreciation of value of use, e.g. a car used for 4 months has had some use and will have depreciated in value) a replacement or a repair. After 6 months it is up to the customer to prove that the fault was there at point of purchase. However, only take this as a guideline. When my son said that we should complain and take something back to a pound shop, even I drew the line! But there are cases when you can and should claim redress after 6 months. (More on laws protecting you from faulty purchases here.)

A faulty sofa
Damaged sofaA friend of mine had bought a sofa over a year ago from a mail order company, Studio. It was clearly faulty and she was having difficulty getting a full refund. I took to writing an email for the CEO. I stated that there were 2 really sharp metal rods (thin ones) poking through out of the fabric, so when hands are put down the middle bit of the sofa it really hurts, obviously. Karen had only done this once now knowing it is was there, however, the item is clearly faulty and she has very young children to consider. Originally she was told that because she had had the bed more than a year there was nothing that could be done. However, once this was checked further (with one assumes, the legal department) she was told that it would have to go to quality control. Karen was promised a call back that never came and she had to chase it up and get a form to fill in and request to send photos of the issue which she did. The proof of postage for this was available. Again she had to chase and ‘phone again to be told that her letter had not arrived. Since then a leg has literally snapped off when she sat on the end causing her to fall. It was now obviously not level.

The sofa was clearly faulty and under the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 she was entitled to a full refund. It was easily proven that the fault was there from the start and so the fact that she had had this item for over a year is irrelevant. In addition to the full refund I expected them to arrange for removal of the sofa and provide redress for the inconvenience caused, not least the damage to Karen’s hand, the time spent on the matter and the stress involved. Karen had not been able to use the sofa bed and so also expected redress for this particularly in light of Studio’s delayed and non-existent responses pro longing the matter.

I added my usual see you in court line if not satisfied with the response…

Result
Karen received a replacement (which is what she wanted) plus £50.

You should persevere when met with fob offs and of course more help and templates for this sort of thing in the book. :)

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GHOTW CEO insinuates all reviewers and complainers are freeloaders oh and it’s okay to overcharge too!

Those of you who have been following this blog for some time will know that complaining is not all about getting freebies. For me, it is always the principle of the thing; I complain about the smallest of things, principle of the thing, I complain in person to politicians, principle of the thing, I take Tesco to court which pounds per hour was nothing to do with getting freebies that’s for sure(!) but was certainly about the principle of the thing, I get refunds for friends when they are out of pocket, principle of the thing, I help people out on social media with advice on getting refunds and redress, principle of the thing. Some people may see this as time poorly spent and that complainers are sad etc etc., if that’s you, then you tell that to the people who have been helped and remember your stance when you make an expensive purchase and want your money back because the thing is faulty. Oh and don’t complain about fat cats either, because some of the reason they get paid so much is because people don’t complain about their services.

So with that in mind I was astounded when my latest complaint elicited the rudest response I have ever received from a CEO. (Up until now, the rudest CEOS have just been the ones such as Clarke who just ignored customers). Admittedly I have never complained to Ryanair CEO but even he has apparently seen the error of his ways.

Now, I am a reviewer for What’s Good to Do. A great site reviewing lots of products and services around the country, check them out. As such I offered to review a variety of places over a number of different dates with Great Hotels of The World. GHOTW is a global sales and marketing alliance. The Iberostar in Majorca was offered for 3 nights in October. I had asked how much an upgrade from B & B would be to all inclusive. (i.e. I wanted to pay for the upgrade) I was offered €122.40 a night per room on All Inclusive. The offer had already included B & B and one dinner for one night. So obviously one night upgrade from B & B plus dinner would be less than the other 2 nights of upgrade form just B & B. I pointed out the following:

“1)     On the Iberostar own website for those nights B & B = €186.66 AI = €296.82 a difference of €110.16 therefore the difference is €110.82 not €122.40

2)     One night dinner is provided for the review. Therefore an upgrade from to all inclusive is certainly not €122.”

After a ridiculous email exchange including telling GHOTW PR team the same thing 6 times and each of those 6 times that I was not asking for anything extra free, I was asking not to be overcharged, I gave up.

The director of What’s Good to Do tried to speak to staff and explain the same, that the website said a lower price and that the dinner would not be free if paying the same extra rate for each of the 3 nights so that the hotel was in effect overcharging. But I received another email to say that the rate was correct and another email with the offer previously received. I was even told that the review must be a positive one!!!

So, I emailed the GHOTW CEO. I explained that it is usual for a reviewer to be offered a discounted rate for extra nights or upgrades to the stay on offer. I wasn’t even asking for this! I just wanted to upgrade. I did however object to being overcharged twice over. Once, telling me that the price was more than advertised on the website and secondly charging me the same for an upgrade from B & B to AI as from B, B & dinner to AI. This is the response I received:

Helen

I have read your email with interest.

I get many of these emails and whilst on many occasions i have great sympathy with the genuine concerns expressed. In this case i would like to suggest that you really need to get a life and stop bothering well meaning busy people with this sad self indulgent rambling.

If you and your freeloading friends on these various websites are not happy with a price quoted then you should perhaps seek alternative accommodation?

I hope this helps. With the kindest regards and best wishes

Regards

Peter Gould
CEO
Big Worldwide
www.big-worldwide.com

(Typos are his not mine)

Remember, I was not asking for a freebie, I was merely pointing out that that I was being overcharged. So it would appear from this email that:

  1. Mr Gould feels that people on these websites (I mentioned review sites, blogs and my own) are also freeloaders. So if you are a reviewer or journalist that has ever reviewed something and got the item or service for free before taking the time to write a review then that’s you!
  2. If you have ever used the information on my site to gain refunds and redress I guess he means you too!
  3. If you have bought my book to gain refunds and redress I suppose he means you as well!
  4. I guess if you have liked my Facebook and certainly if you interact with me on there then he includes you as a free loading friend on these websites!
  5. The reviewer receives a couple of hundred pounds worth of stay (no travel) – The hotel receives much free advertisement. I would suggest that several thousand people reading a review is worth slightly more than the couple of hundred pounds that the reviewer “saves” before writing up the piece. No advertisement costs, not even having to pay anyone to design the advert. So as a PR company GHOTW is doing a great job huh?

Wonder what the other hotels in this group think of the way that the PR company handles publicity?!

So who is the freeloader? The person who seeks refunds and redress when put out of pocket/the reviewer who undertakes some work in return for a free service or product, or the company that uses reviews as a cheaper method of traditional advertising and then insults anyone who evidences overcharging?

Should you be a reviewer or journalist that undertakes reviews and doesn’t take kindly to the above you can contact Peter Gould here

 

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How to complain about a dry cleaners

The Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 covers again. If services are not undertaken with reasonable skill and care and your items get damaged or lost then you have the right to claim compensation. This can be the cost of replacing the damaged or lost item although there may be a reduction for wear and tear of the original item.

Membership of the Textile Services Association is available to Laundries, Dry Cleaners, Textile Renters and their suppliers. If the company you are using are members then it offers a conciliation service. You may be asked to prove your claim and on a loser pays basis use the association’s testing service. It also offers an arbitration service is the matter still cannot be resolved.

If the firm is not a member of the TSA, then you have the option of taking the matter through the Small Claims Court.

Dry cleaning complaints
Earlier this year, I took a suit to a local dry cleaners and picked it up two days later. Luckily I noticed there and then that the mark on the jacket was still there. I complained and said it looked like the jacket hadn’t been done or at the very least the mark hadn’t come out and I had expected it to do so. The owner was very apologetic and asked me to come back the next day. Apparently the jacket had not been done! I didn’t even need to complain and assert my legal rights and got the jacket cleaned for free. So either my reputation goes before me or my face must have said it all. Perhaps it was a good dry cleaners? Or at least had a good manager who had words with his son who only cleaned the trousers!

Another time I took in curtains to a different dry cleaners. Condensation had ruined the bottom of them. This did not come out. I complained and received a full refund. They did tell me that those sort of stains do not come out. So please let me know if you know different and you can get a mould stain out! Also, lesson here, check with the dry cleaner if they think the stain will come out before they waste their and your time.

I have a feeling that if I ask if anyone has had any dry cleaning nightmares that I may get a fair few??

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