Companies customer service

How to provide great customer service (when things go wrong)

Macdonal Bath HotelTime I feel for a story of how customer service should be done? Occasionally I write up a story of good customer service. Not often but I do like to give credit where credit is due, such as the Dunelm story.  I always say that every company makes mistakes sometimes but it is how they deal with them that matters. That’s when the company is really given a chance to show how good their customer service is. My friend (remember The Clamer Cat?) and I attended a spa day last October at a Macdonald Hotel in Bath. I had booked the day with the leisure manager. I added another massage for my friend and I with no problems. On the day of the spa we were told that we could not have the treatment because it would be too much massage.

Peeved we were, peeved. But the manager was incredible. So professional (particularly given that it was her line manager who had booked the treatment and so one has to assume was 100% at fault for not taking advice from the spa team) and helpful. Before we went into one treatment we said that we would write to the manager of the hotel to complain about the issue but that we would also mention that the spa team were extremely good and helpful.

When we came out of the treatment we were offered a full spa day including treatments as we had booked plus a tea. (Can’t beat tea and cake!) Most importantly, the team could not have been more apologetic. Genuine apologies go a long way.

I was impressed. This was after all far above and beyond the legal duty of the hotel for not providing services with skill and care. So I wrote to the general manager of the hotel. never let it be said that I only complain and don’t give credit where credit is due! I wrote the following:

“I am writing to you because whilst it was quite clear that this was basic knowledge that the manager should have known, the therapists that spoke to us were extremely professional. They could not have done more to help and try and rearrange things. When the spa manager Wendy was informed she could not have been better. She was very apologetic whilst remaining very professional. My friend and I were really very impressed by her and her team, she clearly runs a very tight excellent ship.

I write the blog and am author of How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! and you will see that I rarely compliment service and specialise in complaining effectively. So this praise comes very high indeed. I always say that companies make mistakes (although it has to be said that I’m not sure that the leisure manager knowing so little about the basics of the spa and not requesting staff to check the booking a rather sad state of affairs) it is how they deal with them that counts and Wendy and her team were superb. Most importantly we hadn’t started to really complain, (as I always do this in writing) just said how appalling it was that the leisure manager should make such a mistake and their attitude/manner did not change when it was made clear that I would be complaining.

When we came out of the last treatment Wendy gave us the free spa day and tea. Pre-empting the complaint that she knew we were  going to make meant that I am not writing to you about breach of contract (not providing services with reasonable skill and care) but to compliment your team at the spa.

Your hotel is not active on Twitter but I tweeted the chain about Wendy and I’m surprised they didn’t rt it! I will be writing a blog post soon about the service to show what should be done when a mistake is made. I rarely do posts like that so it will be a nice change! I will let you know when the post is published.

I trust that you will pass on our comments to the team.”

So there you go, a time when even I did not need to complain! 🙂


6 Top Tips for problems with builders/ painters & decorators

paintProblem with a builder or painter decorator? Need to know what to do to resolve things? Follow these specific tips first when employing a builder or painter and decorators. But if it’s too late here’s what you can do:

1) Try to resolve the matter in person or over the ‘phone before formally writing if you have a complaint.

2) Give the trader an opportunity to remedy the work. If they refuse to do this or they fail to do it satisfactorily then you can take the matter further.

3) Ensure that you state that you retain your legal rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 so that you are still able to claim if necessary afterwards when you write to complain.

4) Should the trader not respond or not remedy the work, proceed with getting an independent report and 3 quotes.   Get the work done and write to the trader requesting this amount attaching the paperwork. You could attach a quote before the work is done to give the trader one last chance if you wish.

5) If the trader is a member of a trade association you can contact it and see if you are able to use a resolution scheme.

6) If all else fails and you have the evidence you can go the Small Claims Court. I took a builder to court (details in the book) and won.

Supply and fitting – your rights

The Defective Premises Act 1972 relates to work undertaken by builders, developers, surveyors and architects. “Defective” in legal terms means work causing the property to be unfit for habitation as a result of design, workmanship or materials. Improvement, small jobs and refurbishments are not covered by this Act but use the Consumer Rights Act 2015 instead.

What if you buy the kitchen and installation from the same company? The same principle applying to kitchen fitting also applies to other goods. You wouldn’t get a full refund on a Rolls Royce because the iPod dock didn’t work! So, it is possible that you won’t get a full refund when only part of the kitchen is messed up.

Should you be thinking about legal action against a company who provided and fitted anything at your property, be aware that a precedent was set in 1995. The case of Ruxley Electronics and Construction Ltd v Forsyth. Ruxley built a swimming pool in Forsyth’s garden. The contract involved a diving area of 7 feet 6 inches in depth.Once finished it was only 6 feet 9 inches deep but it was safe and the pool value was not affected. Forsyth wanted the pool demolished and rebuilt, at an estimated additional cost of £21,540.

The judge rejected the “cost of cure” damages, ruling that it was unreasonable but awarded “loss of amenity damages” of £2,500. The court of appeal then ruled that Forsyth should be put back into the position he was in before the pool was built.

Ruxley then appealed to the House of Lords. Lord Mustill’s ruling on the matter concluded that one must look to ‘the loss truly suffered by the promisee’ and reverted back to the award of £2,500.

This means therefore that if you have a poorly-made kitchen you are unlikely to get a full refund if it is still usable!

New houses

The Consumer Code for Homebuilders is an industry-led code of conduct for builders, which was developed to make the home buying process fairer and more transparent for purchasers and is adopted by the main warranty providers. The Code consists of requirements and principles that home builders must meet in their marketing and selling of homes and their after-sales customer service. As part of this code warranty providers must provide a complaint procedure. There is a dispute resolution scheme to deal with complaints within two years of buying a home, if builders don’t comply with the code. The scheme can award up to £15,000.

Cover of How to Complain updated 2019 large cow logo


You can find numerous template letters, advice, consumer laws and tips for complaining to traders and more in the best-selling book GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!