The Complainers Giving Complainers a Bad Name?

My experience with The Complainers
Well  The Complainers filmed me. Lovely Tom and Jon came to film me and said they would be back to film updates to the stories and film me with the blog and stuff! I’m probably old enough to be Tom’s mother but should you ever be filmed by Dragonfly (they made The Hotel – hilarious, and One Born Every Minute so a great company) ask for him, he is very very easy on the eye! 🙂 They asked to be kept informed and that was that. I kept them informed, the researcher seemed interested in the workshops and community radio I was doing, all more interesting than filming someone emailing and said she’d ‘phone on the Monday. Then I was on the BBC….. Then it all went quiet. I joked that perhaps Channel 4 may not like showing someone who had been on the BBC! It became clear that despite more interesting things to film, like having my carpet cleaned courtesy of The Body Shop and updates to stories, workshops and radio, Dragonfly didn’t contact me. After a few months I was curious why and emailed. Jon replied “We had a bit of a change of direction after we met you so it became more about longstanding complaints within the utility sphere and then it got more focussed from there. Certainly I hope when you see the documentary that our episode wouldn’t have been the right fit for your endeavours, even though both Tom and myself had a fantastic time coming to meet you.”

Hmm, I took long standing to mean longstanding. My complaint with Virgin that they filmed had reached the point of CISAS and that has to be 8 weeks before you can do that. I thought all my stories re Tesco showed that I often picked on them. But then we saw the first episode and things became clearer.

The first episode
I thought that this would be interesting. See things from the other side and how Transport for London deal with complaints. Although we didn’t see that. We saw abuse sent through Twitter which is nothing to do with complaining. We saw Traffic Droid, giving out red cards to road users who in his opinion were not abiding by the rules, and by others’ opinion, putting others in danger. I’m not certain as I got so bored watching the programme. The Telegraph summed it up in a good review. An opportunity to show what happens in call centres but we didn’t see one complaint being handled. There must be hundreds of complaints about transport but did we see any? No. Far too much of one person, even in the name of entertainment was he really the only “character” they could find? So if you were watching in the hope of finding out how to complain about delayed trains this is what you need.

The second episode
Councils. Well this will be full of “characters” I thought. Even if we don’t see complaints being resolved. Nope. Just a few yet again. Ridiculous, there must have been loads to choose from. An extreme complainer – no sign of complaining about consumer issues or asserting legal rights. At least I think in this episode we did see a couple of call centre staff answer a call and resolve a complaint.

The third episode
Well apparently this is the one I would have been in. And there it was the reason I was not used. Fair enough. Yep, “My endeavours were not a good fit”. No wonder Tom and Jon wanted to come back to my house and have me cook for them! They must have liked coming to my house, it was clean and they happily drank tea, ate biscuits and had a glass of wine. But I am polite (well, when I write complaining to companies) assertive and use the Law. At least the programme was extreme enough for people who don’t complain to realise that this is not the way to do it and hopefully see that not everyone sees a complaint as an “opportunity”. Shame about the stereotyping too for 2 of the characters, although moving your stuff via a nicked shopping trolley did make me laugh Ian 🙂

Overall thoughts
Well, I can see why I wasn’t used! Although I write (I’m reliably informed) a useful and entertaining blog and give good free advice on social media I’m not sad/loony/desperate enough to go looking for complaints or continue on and on with the same complaint (having got it resolved in the first place). I named the insect in the Tesco rice Phillip after the CEO and I had a hammer which I was tenderising chicken with while I slated the Tesco CEO. It amused Jon and Tom at the time but I think that as time progressed and the powers that be decided they wanted extreme complainers (as opposed to people complaining and asserting their legal rights) it would have been used if I had gone to the Tesco offices with insect and hammer in hand demanding to see Clarke!

I loathe the term “serial complainer” and “professional complainer” both are ridiculous terms and don’t reflect what many other people and I do which is to complain effectively. We don’t go looking for complaints or continue complaining when a matter is resolved. But the people reflected in this programme were not just asserting their legal rights or righting wrongs. A better title for the programme would have been “Extreme Complainers”. Then that would have truly reflected the programme. As it was, it was disappointing as we didn’t see how best to complain or how complaints were dealt with. Should you want to know how to make complaints effectively then I talk about tips:

and 2o Top Tips

So all in all, I was of course a bit gutted that I wasn’t filmed more and shown as it would have been great PR for the blog. If I didn’t write this blog I wouldn’t have wanted to appear so perhaps that’s another difference between your average complainer and an extreme one. I was filmed for Ripped Off Britain last week, so looks like I’m more of a BBC gal! Tell you what these director chappies are really very nice although you should shave off the beard Iain, it doesn’t suit we need to see more of your face 🙂 I also think that directors are like police officers, all getting younger and making you feel old!

But the real shame is that such an opportunity to inform people was missed in an effort to “entertain”. But if they were wanting people to talk about it like Benefits Street the commissioners or whomever made the decisions to change the focus from genuine complaints and looking at how complaints are dealt with to showing extreme complainers were misguided. Reviews have been poor, characters were limited and people don’t care enough. Benefits come from our taxes, we generally care how our taxes are used and it is an issue which gets people worked up. You are either a complainer or you aren’t. One isn’t going to get worked up about how someone fills their time when it does not affect them personally. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There is a need/opportunity for a programme on how people complain without being an extreme complainer and without having to resort to media programmes like Watchdog to take up cases. Sadly, The Complainers did not fill that gap.

What did you think of The Complainers?

If you want to be an effective complainer and always get redress, then buy the book!

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8 Responses to The Complainers Giving Complainers a Bad Name?

  1. Srikar Reddy says:

    Some complainers have less patience & they start to use high voices without listening what the other one is saying?

  2. Swiftkidd says:

    I liked the program with the humor and entertainment but obviously focused only on extreme complainers.. It’s a shame you didn’t make the program did they send you any of the video footage and curious what is your longest standing complaint start to finish to resolve?. My longest dispute has been 9 months on one occasion and between 12 & present on another involving the same company but quiet a few of mine have taken months to resolve but that’s relying on persuasive pressure and not consumer legal route

    • The Complaining Cow says:

      No, I asked for footage, my rant about Tesco would have been amusing for the You tube channel 🙁 AVIVA about 7 months. Appalling, printed off emails amounted to about an inch and a half. Friend had been two years with Everest, I got involved got it sorted after 6 months but he’s still having some issues.

  3. James Walker says:

    If it is any conciliation they followed us for 4 days including filming us having lunch in the pub. We were meant to be in the 4th edition but Firefly told us the series was brought forward by 3-months and cut down by 1 episode because of a hole in the C4 Schedule.

    • The Complaining Cow says:

      Hi James, Aren’t you pleased they didn’t use you though?! What was the 4th part meant to be on? But you can see what they were going for we were never going to fit. (It was Dragonfly not Firefly). I was told it was going to be a series of 6. Odd. Can only hope that another kind of programme comes along that shows it is possible to complain without being a nutcase and without needing help from watchdog and the like. That it is possible to be middle of the road and just assert your legal rights. But then that doesn’t make good telly does it?

      • James Walker says:

        Yes sorry having a moment and got their name wrong. They told me it was 4 episodes and that episode 4 was originally on retail but then being changed to be about technology and they wanted to do most of the programme on us. They also said it was going out in September.

        Programmes like to be controversial or to be confrontational which solving the issue yourself does not fit into.

        • The Complaining Cow says:

          Was told the other episode was “High street” I said name your choice and I’ll give you a complaint! But yes basically what I said in the post, although helpful and vaguely amusing at times I’m told, my blog does not translate into good telly. Should do though, see this post The programme wasn’t for you or me that’s for sure.

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