How to beat Uncle Tom Cobley’s customer service

You know what annoys me? Ah hmm fair enough, the Internet isn’t big enough for the list. Ok, one of the things that really annoys me in customer service is downright incompetence.

Last year, we bought two new ovens. One of the oven’s instructions (on the oven) was in German. Under the Sale of Goods Act I would say that was not fit for purpose, given that I don’t speak German. (For purchases made after 01 October 2015 use the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

See that? "Competence" it is called. Irony
See that? “Competence” it is called. Irony

So I telephoned the company where we bought the ovens from and started my spiel. At this point I just wanted to reset the thing into English so I could turn the thing on! So no actual need for a full refund, just someone to tell me how to change it. So they just said they would contact the supplier to send out an engineer. Nope, I was pushed from pillar to post, you know, customer services helpline, switchboard, AEG and Uncle Tom Cobley and all. Now, good old Uncle Tom was indeed employed by them. His advice was great. “Can you use the other oven and follow the instructions on the one in English?” I kid you not, he expected me to use the other oven, counting the times I selected each electronic choice whenever I used the oven! Idiot.

This was one of the very rare occasions I didn’t keep on at the retailer, mainly because I didn’t want a refund. Eventually I got an engineer out from Electrolux who seem to own rather a lot of companies. (Strictly speaking you know they are technicians not engineers). Meanwhile I was trying to register the ovens on the AEG website. Now, on the site one can select the model number then put in the serial number. I did this with a couple of items and then tried the ovens. It wouldn’t process. So I sent a complaint through the web form. I got an email back stating that they needed the model numbers. I think Uncle Tom Cobley had changed jobs because there in front of him was the model number! I pointed out that this had been sent. A week later I wrote again and Uncle Tom’s sister emailed asking for the model number. So I emailed a screen shot with the model number in it! I didn’t get a response.

Meanwhile! The clocks were out of sync so I tried to get this sorted too.  I wrote to the CEO (you can find contact details for CEOs at ceoemail.com) regarding the issues. I had a reply from the UK Head of Customer Care who wanted to ‘phone me to discuss. As you know I hate doing that so insisted on correspondence by email. Why you should write not ‘phone to complain effectively.

Then! After the “engineer” arrived and said two new clocks were needed and left paperwork stating that he would be back the following week in the AM, I received a text a week later saying he was coming in the afternoon. Oh no he wasn’t! I emailed the Head chappie again and told him what time the “engineer” would be coming! Funny enough I was right…!

Got everything sorted as you would expect and again the chappie asked to telephone me to discuss redress. I loathe doing this and I’m glad I refused because I would never have asked for the £250 I got!

P1010918Then! This happened! Something happened to the lining. The oven is nearly a year old by this point, so they could argue a repair and change the lining possibly. (One could argue about how long the lining should last would be my point and still fight for full refund/replacement!) That’s what the Bull thought but you’d think he’d know me by now. I got my new oven. A newer model it would appear. Great. But it would appear that I am having trouble registering the oven on the website……………….

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How to write a letter of complaint

Many people say to me they don’t know how to put a letter or email of complaint together. I have provided lots of Tips and regularly give advice on Twitter and Facebook but here’s an example of an email I wrote for  Elaine who writes a testimonial here.

The email below was sent to the CEO of Sharps. They were very poor. The matter was handed down to someone else and the work was undertaken by the date specified. We had to send a further email to request the redress, which she got. £250

Dear Mr Smith

RE: Drawing No: 101513

I am writing to you to express my disgust at the atrocious service we have received from Sharps.

We recently purchased a made to measure set of bedroom wardrobes and units from your company which were delivered to our address on 05/11/2013. Until this point we had received excellent service from your company. The designer Alan and the surveyor also named Alan were both very professional and left us feeling confident that the work would be completed to a high standard and in a reasonable time frame. In order for the work to be completed as scheduled we employed our own builders at our personal expense to carry out the necessary preparation e.g. moving electrical sockets and redecorating to take place to accommodate the wardrobes and units. Our bedroom was cleared of all furniture as instructed by the surveyor, including our bed on the 05/11/13. However since the units were delivered on the 5/11/13 there has been no progress.

After initially being told the installation would take place a few days after the delivery date we were then informed that installation would take place on the 12/11/2012. This was not ideal for us but we were satisfied that at least we had a confirmed date and arranged to take annual leave from work as we were informed installation would take 3 days. However things went from bad to worse.

12/11/13 – No one attended our property to install the wardrobes. A breach of the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. * We did not receive any notification that installation was not going ahead. We telephoned customer services and spoke with Ms Cox who informed us that a colleague had called and left us a message on Saturday (9/11/13) informing us that installation would be delayed until the 13th November. We did not receive any such phone call or message and I am appalled that I was told this. We were informed a fitter would be with us on the 13th between 8 – 9am. As I had taken annual leave from work I had to re-negotiate a change in the annual leave at short notice, again.

12/11/13 At 7:30 pm – I received a call from customer services informing us that a fitter was not available to attend on the 13th but we would be contacted the following morning when they could find a fitter for the 14/11/13 – At such short notice it was obviously hard for me to re-negotiate a change in my annual leave again.

13/11/13 (am) – I received a call from Ms Cox informing us that she was trying to find a fitter for the next day and she would call us back.

Later that day it was left to me to follow up this ‘phone call.  We called the customer service department to find out if a fitter had been arranged and were told “No as it was a very busy time of the year” (wholly irrelevant and this should be planned for especially as we had already been dreadfully treated) and they would contact us the following day for a fitter to attend Friday (15/11/13) and Saturday (16/11/13).

14/11/13 (pm) -- I received a call from Ms Cox informing us that she had not been able to arrange for a fitter for the Friday & Saturday but guaranteed a fitter would be with us on the  20/11/2013 between 8 -9am. Again I had to arrange more annual leave for the following week.

19/11/2013 (PM) -- I rang customer services to confirm someone would be attending on the 20/11/2013 and were told it was on the system and a fitter would definitely be there between 8am-9am.

20/11/13 @10am – No-one arrived. We rang and spoke to Ms Cox again only to be told that no-one would be available today and we should never have been told someone would be (even though she had guaranteed it the previous week). The earliest date would be Friday 22/11/13; however she would try and find someone for 21/11/2013.

20/11/13 (pm) – I called again to ascertain if a fitter had indeed been found for 21/11/13 and were told by Ms Cox that it would be Friday 22/11/13

21/11/13  (pm) -- I called the customer services again to ascertain if a fitter would be attending on Friday 22/11/13 and was told a fitter by the name of John would be with us between 8-9am on Friday 22/11/13.

21/11/13 (9.00am) – A ‘phone call received from Ms Cox asking whether the fitter had arrived. No-one had arrived up to this point. She promised to contact the fitter and then call us back with an update. I had to call back at 09:50am to find out what was going on, unfortunately Ms Cox was unavailable. She returned our call at 10:06 when we were informed that the filter was unattainable and his manager was unaware where he was.

To date we are no closer to an installation date  and are left not knowing when they will be installed.

We are appalled at the service we have received. You are in breach of the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982; you have not provided services of a reasonable standard to which we are entitled. I found Ms Cox’s attitude dismissive and not at all sympathetic to the stress of the constant inexcusable delays, the repeated broken promises, the poor communication, and the inconvenience of having to change and re book leave from my work place at very short notice to accommodate a date for a fitter and of course not having a bed to sleep in for two weeks.

I trust that you will be as appalled as we are with the outrageous service we have received. Sharps is clearly in breach of the aforementioned Act. I am legally entitled to services of a satisfactory standard which should be completed within a reasonable length of time with no inconvenience to us and obviously we have not received this.

I expect to receive redress for the stress and inconvenience caused in addition to the out of pocket costs I have incurred. I have now used up all my leave as I was not able to change all the days I had previously booked. I expect redress for the loss of my annual leave. I earn £xxx a day and lost xxx days due to the errors made by Sharps. I expect this to be reimbursed in addition to an appropriate amount for the inconvenience and stress of the continued delays and being without the furniture.

I expect the furniture to be fitted by Saturday of this week and this is now non negotiable.

If I am not fully satisfied with your response I will not hesitate in taking the matter further which will include, but not be limited to Trading Standards, social media and The Small Claims Court. I will be seeking a full refund, costs as above plus court costs and further costs incurred.

Yours sincerely,

So that is an example of an email that gets results. Factual, clear, dates, times and names. Reference to the relevant Law and details of what you will do if the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction.

She got £200 and the bedroom was fitted by the Saturday!

I’d suggest you don’t use Sharps either.

* For purchases made after 01 October 2015 you would need to use the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

book Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

 

If you need help with complaining GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

 

 

Top 20 Tips for Complaining Effectively