How to complain effectively on Twitter
I hear all the time from people that they have successfully complained because they have used social media. Occasionally if used in the right way, your complaint is simple, the trader has a good social media team and the wind is in the right direction this may be the case. Used in the right way it can be a good tool to name and shame and speed things up but that’s the limit as in the end you will still need to provide all the details off the public forum which is as good as sending an email in the first place. So what are the no nos?
1) A rant is not an effective complaint
Don’t get me wrong, I can rant for England and if ever there was an Olympics for ranting I’d be there. I will name and shame where it’s genuine too, it’s good for a laugh if nothing else. But it isn’t a complaint. It isn’t going to get you redress. Sometimes the company will respond sometimes they won’t. If you carry on ranting it’s the same as shouting, it’s not going to get you anywhere. It’s pointless and frankly very few people, if anyone is taking any notice of your rants. Why? Because social media is full of them and it’s boring. Remember I rant for England, but you’ll notice my rants are after I’ve effectively got my redress or just a rant for rant’s sake because I want to get it out of my head and I feel better then! So if you want to rant and it makes you feel better, do it, don’t expect anything significant from it though ‘cos no one cares. Think -- how many times have you ever really joined in or contributed to someone else’s rant?
2) Personal information on Twitter!
I was in a meeting the other week with some people from a few financial institutions and other consumer organisations looking at complaints handling (trust me 3 hours we only scraped the surface!) but I was asked by a senior executive of a very large financial institution what I thought about complaining on social media. I said it drove me nuts. It isn’t the place to effectively sort out complicated issues and it certainly isn’t the place to be trying to resolve financial products. He agreed saying that they have a problem with people giving out personal details. They are far less worried about you saying “oi @xyzbank your service stinks” than you being very polite and then giving your age, your address and your policy numbers openly! You are opening yourself up to fraud on your account to say nothing of identity theft.
3) Using hashtags to complain on Twitter
Really? Must you? Inventing your own? Unless you have hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers who are all going to rt you why are you bothering? Who is going to look? Who is going to care? Perhaps find and use a hashtag so your tweets come up as one of many, but think about it, how often do you look up a hashtag that you don’t know exactly what it is for and join in?!
4) Repeatedly tweeting your complaint on Twitter
Now, I know I say if you aren’t happy go back until you are, but that’s when you have written your email outlining exactly what you want. I can keep going for as long as it takes going through customer services, the CEO, ombudsmen, the court, whatever, but not on Twitter or Facebook! I have been known to have a conversation or two with Virgin Media on Twitter. But that’s because I simply had a query that I wanted to do online and they were thoroughly obtuse. Only answering within certain times of the day and stuff! So I ended up having a conversation complaining about their stupid systems and their responses which had nothing to do with the initial enquiry anyway! (Now, see? I could rant forever and a day about the telecoms sector! But if you could too but actually want to get anything resolved see All you need to know about complaining to telecom providers) So where was I? Ah yes probably proving my point about not ranting in the last few sentences. If the company has not responded to two of your tweets or you haven’t been asked to send details about the complaint via their processes/email/private message then stop. Either you haven’t made yourself clear or they are useless at dealing with complaints on social media. Whatever the reason you are now wasting your time. No one is listening and you are being ineffective. Stop.
5) Copying in consumer people and organisations on Twitter
I’m afraid I am unable to pick up people’s tweets and do their complaints for them. How can I possibly without all the information? And see Contact for more on what I can and can’t do). Imagine if everyone who follows me copied me into their tweets about their complaints and expected a response! I’d do nothing else! So how can the big guys, Watchdog, Rip Off, Dom Littlewood, MSE all do it? They can’t and won’t it just isn’t possible. Nor is it fair to pick up one tweet and not another, your complaint is not unique I promise you! (Have the manners to tweet me personally with a “please” and “thank you” I will answer and I’ll direct you to the relevant page on my blog though!) If I can’t do it with only about 10k followers (plus the people who don’t even follow me, yet expect me to do something!) how on earth could the big organisations/media do it? It will not make the company any more likely to deal with your complaint because they know that anyone you have copied in will not get involved. Don’t waste the characters!
Good examples of how to use Twitter to complain
1) Complain about simple stuff on Twitter
This is where the company has your bank details and can refund you. E.g. @tesco here is a pic of the rotten tomatoes that came in my delivery please refund. Appropriate response? “Sorry to hear that, please dm us your order number email and mailing adds., will reimburse.”
2) Use Twitter when you have not had a reply to a written complaint
e.g. “@virginmedia wrote to you on (date) not had reply please investigate”. Appropriate (but possibly unlikely here because Virgin is so utterly useless) response “Sorry to hear that please dm your name, add, and account number and we will look into this.” Then follow up in the dm with the required details and give deadline for wanting response.
3) When you don’t know where to send your complaint try Twitter
e.g. “@anytelecomco I have a complaint I want to email you but there is no email address please provide”. Appropriate response (from most companies but few if any telecoms) “here it is …” you have the choice of carrying on arguing pointlessly, or to use ceoemail.com and write to the CEO and add to your complaint that if their site provided an email address instead of whatever way they have tried to make you contact them it would be a lot better!
4) Part query, part complaints are good for Twitter
e.g.”@traincompany 5.40 to London delayed no information being given at all please advise”. Appropriate response (most cases) “due to xxx next train will be at yyyyy” or similar.
5) Query turning into complaint about fob off!
E.g. “@retailer my order hasn’t been delivered”. Appropriate response “Please dm us your order number, name and address and we will investigate for you.” If fobbed off say “@retailer no, under Consumer Rights Act 2015 my contract is with you. Pls follow so can send you details for you to investigate”. (For more on your rights regarding deliveries see Your Rights, Mail Order, Online and Deliveries.
If you don’t get the appropriate responses do not waste your time continuing with social media. You are not succeeding.
See Top 20 Tips How to Complain! for complaining effectively.
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