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?

Fewer than 45% of People in the UK Use their Consumer Rights

Well that was interesting. Thank you to everyone who responded to the survey How, When and Why Do You Complain?

Key findings

How many people complain?
According to this survey undertaken July 2014 70% of us complain when we receive poor service. This rises to 90% who complain when we purchase a faulty item. If you look to your own networks this doesn’t really ring true and I think many people put that they generally complain because they felt that they should! Or it is not every time they receive poor service. Or many of those complaints are not successful in gaining redress. This theory is backed up by answers to another question, “If you usually don’t complain is it because…” Now, 59% of respondents gave reasons and only 41% said that they always complained.  However, complaining is on the increase and the latter figures fit in with The Ombudsman’s report on complaining. 38 million customers complained in 2013. But 40 million more complaints went unaddressed as people stayed quiet. 48% and 52%.

In addition, as detailed below many more people are now using social media to complain and some people may consider writing a 140 character tweet as regularly complaining! It’s not necessarily always gaining redress and it’s very difficult to assert your legal rights in 140 characters!

46% say that when they don’t complain it is because it is too much effort or takes too much time.

Gaining redress
When considering purchasing an item/service either online or in store how easy it will be to gain redress if anything goes wrong is a factor in 74% of people’s decision making about where to buy (either sometimes or always). The same number of people shop online as do in store because they think it will be easier to return an item that way.

How well do you know your legal rights?
This is what I found the most interesting. Given that 70- 90% of people say they always complain, only 7% said they know their legal rights well and use them regularly. 5% know the basics of the Sale and Supply of Goods Act and Supply of Goods and Services Act. A further 33% will check out their rights before complaining, so assuming that they won’t always do that for various reasons, we know that fewer than 45% of people use their legal rights. So 7 + 5 + 33 = the 45% but I believe that is lower as some of the 33% won’t always check out their legal rights and complain.

Uswitch undertook a survey in May 2014 and found that almost two fifths of consumers (38%) are unsure about their rights and 36% say they do not know them well. Only 4% claim to be truly confident.

How many people do you tell about poor service?
Remember the line “Receive good service tell 1, receive poor service tell 10”? Not any more.
Less than 2% of people tell no-one.
49% tell 1 – 10 people
11% tell 10 – 20 and now
38% tell hundreds and sometimes thousands of people due to social media.
So companies be warned! It is wholly irrelevant how many complaints you actually receive! Less than 60% don’t always complain but look how many people are they telling?

Social media
68% of respondents use social media to complain.
37% of those find it effective sometimes
16% find it always effective
12% find it is never effective
Clearly social media is on the rise. There are more details on what social media works for in complaining here.

When you receive good service do you give feedback?
The majority of people think they do. I think some customer service people may disagree!

It would appear that people think they complain more than they do, certainly less know their legal rights. There is an increase in using social media to complain and whilst this may be considered complaining, it often doesn’t gain the legal redress that longer correspondence elicits. The main reasons for people not complaining are that it takes too much time and effort which might suggest that companies make it difficult to complain? Thoughts around how easy it is to gain redress when things go wrong are becoming a key factor in where people choose to buy.

People really need to complain more. If they did perhaps service would improve it would have to. And now, to help you, here’s a book! #complainlikeacow

How to Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and RESULTS! Take a look at the reviews too! #chuffed 🙂

Don’t forget, The Complaining Cow’s Top 20 Tips Tips here and video here:

The Complaining Cow and Rip Off Britain

I was on Rip Off Britain. Luckily not live but unluckily not with the hair and make up lady working miracles like she did when I was on BBC Breakfast! 🙁 (If it is now after the programme and you’ve found your way to this site after seeing me, thanks!) Welcome to my blog full of (occasional rants), redress, refunds and results.

I’ll say now of course that they edited out all the best bits of me where I was very witty, charming, pleasant and gave loads of splendid advice.

So for those of you new here, I thought it might be useful just to give you some links to various posts you may find helpful and may have been hoping to find when you got here rather than the drivel you’ve just read.

You can see the clips from the episode

Various pages and posts you might find of interest
I think, if they keep it in there was much coverage of using social media to complain. Here is my post about my full thoughts on that.
Top Tips for complaining effectively
7 common fobs offs companies use to not give refunds!
Your rights mail order, online and delivery
Up to date information on changes made to consumer law earlier this year giving you more rights.
How to take charge of your energy bills
The ultimate guide to complaining when eating out

CEOemail for contact details for all CEOs

As well as posts aimed at informing people about their consumer rights, the blog is full of stories of effective complaining, just take a look around. But for now I just give you Tesco. Now! There are a lot of Tesco posts on here and if you put Tesco into the search thingy on the right lots of posts will come up. In fact, my very first post was about Tesco and that gives you links to all the other posts. (I particularly like all the comments which I do believe has helped the blog’s Google ranking for when you put in “Tesco complaints”. Contact details, MSE site, then my post. Well I think it is funny!) But for now you might like the fact that I took them to court and won. And no I am not the reason they have the financial problems that they do, although I did predict they would have problems because Clarke didn’t listen to customers. All the Tesco posts are listed here.

Social media
Youtube channel – links to various radio and tv appearances, videos of me providing info on tips on effective complaining. (Also a few clips on a surgery with Iain Duncan Smith where I took him to task a bit, to no avail but I do believe in effective complaining rather than just moaning, I tried). You can subscribe to my channel there too.
Twitter – follow me here for top tip tweets, rants and general chit chat
Facebook – please like my page for various updates and join in the rants, questions, funny pictures or links of the day from me. 🙂

To keep up to date with consumer news and The Complaining Cow sign up for the newsletter. I only send emails a few times a year when I remember. I certainly won’t be spamming you, but the next one will be out shortly with news on survey results and my NEW BOOK  out now!

Thank you for visiting and hope to see you again soon.


Why You Suck at Gaining Redress (and what to do about it)

So, you get poor service at the restaurant and don’t complain or if you do complain you don’t gain redress. You buy an item that’s faulty but don’t get a refund. Why?

You need the adjustment

1) Your expectations are too low. You think that the item was cheap so what do you expect? You think the meal you had at that place last time was bad so you aren’t surprised when it is again. If a kettle was bought to boil water it should boil water. Simple! If you buy a meal it should be made with reasonable skill and care. If you had a bad meal there last time you should have complained and maybe things would have improved!

2) You don’t know your legal rights. The main ones you need to know are The Sale of Goods Act 1979 (amended to the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994) and The Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. Items should be of satisfactory quality, be fit for purpose, be as described and last a reasonable length of time.

3) You think it will take too much time and effort. Going back to the shop arguing about refunds. Well, if you know your legal rights you won’t be arguing you’ll be assertive and if you still don’t gain redress you can take the matter further by which time you will be asking for more than a refund.

4) You shout at people on the ‘phone or in person. Would you give me what I wanted if I yelled at you? Think, be polite particularly as often the person or people at fault aren’t usually the people to whom you complain.

5) You’ve gone back to the wrong shop! Yes I have heard of this being done, frequently! Check your facts first.

6) You think that because you have lost the receipt that you can’t get your money back. Wrong. You just need proof of purchase such as a credit card bill.

7) You don’t like complaining and aren’t assertive. Fair enough, but seriously? You’d rather be out of pocket? If you are in the right you have nothing to worry about!

8) You are complaining about something trivial and you aren’t out of pocket. There is a difference between complaining about 69p because it is the principle of the thing and complaining that you don’t like the colour of the carpet.

So, get out there and complain when something goes wrong! Tips here and here on how to complain.

Who has got some complaining failures to tell? Customer Service representatives what other things can the complainer do that will ensure you don’t give redress?!

For more information, tips, advice, guidance, consumer rights and templates see GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!


What Happens When a Business Doesn’t Prepare for a Promotion

So bargains. We all love ’em unless of course you are too rich or idiotic to care! In which case you wouldn’t be reading my blog on either count. So last Christmas I thought I’d buy some Body Shop stuff as presents. Get this! 16% off through Topcashback* (that is the best cashback site, gives the most) then a 50% off code. So off I went to buy lots of stuff!

Website Meltdown
Apparently though, it would appear that lots of other people had the same thought and the site went down. Not completely. One could waste one’s time putting items in their basket only to not be able to checkout. I took to Twitter and Facebook, as did many other people. I emailed. I was told that due to all the problems of course they were inundated and one had to wait days for a reply. I am The Complaining Cow, I don’t do waiting.

I told the social media team on Twitter that I would get a response quicker than they said. They argued that I would not. I emailed the CEO of the Body Shop. I got a reply within five hours. Actually I got a ‘phone call within hours but as you know I don’t do ‘phone calls regarding complaints either!

I wrote explaining that I had been inconvenienced and that now the Topcashback percentage had gone down and casting doubts on the legality of the site stating that one could purchase items online when one couldn’t.

The CEO (Jeremy another one on first name terms this early on!) apologised, told me he had assigned the issue to someone else and would follow up. I thanked him and pointed out that I had deliberately finished my Christmas shopping in stores to continue on line and that the site had been down for many days. I put in a plea for everyone else too saying that I noted his remark regarding that he too would be frustrated and annoyed in the same position but nothing was being done about everyone else in the same position and that having the website down for so many days was just ridiculous. So to anyone else who had problems with The Body Shop website last Christmas I did try and sort it out for you too!

(Incidentally you can use to find contact details for any CEO.)

Anyway I agreed to a ‘phone call to get my order in time and with all the discounts. Of course some of the items had gone out of stock in this time so I got a couple of upgrades for free a gift and a £10 voucher.

Excellent. Nope, look how it was delivered:

Stained carpetBody Shop oil leakage

As you can see the oil lid was not on properly. Oil leaked over everything including my carpet.

So obviously I complained! Surely you would? Surely people would complain about this? Tell me why if you wouldn’t!

So back I went to my mate Jeremy and Sonja who had been dealing with this. (The chappie she got to ‘phone me each time was very good has to be said). I pointed out their legal obligations and of course they offered to pay for the carpet to be cleaned.

I was gutted, the professional clean got the stain out. Could have done with a new hallway carpet.

I spoke about this on ITV News:

Simple lessons for consumer and business
So consumers, if you don’t get the response you want when using social media go higher. Consumer rights, remember you have them! Make sure you have your legal rights to hand and be assertive, but not rude there is a difference. As for business, look it isn’t rocket science. You offer good bargains that close to Christmas your website is likely to have problems. To not be prepared is short sighted and the trouble caused reflects badly on your company. To continue not sorting the problem, several days later is daft isn’t it? Really? Prepare for problems and make sure you have the technical support to deal with any issues as soon as they arise. It’s no good thinking that you are going to bring in more sales with great offers if you can’t deliver. In this case deliver service and products safely! Look at every part of the team which is going to be under pressure with increase in orders which will increase with a backlog. Ensure that your social media team are geared up to help and assist customers not just spout the same useless lines all the time. It isn’t their fault if they are not helping customers IF they have not been given the tools and resources to resolve problems.

So am I right? To me, it’s just common sense. It’s not rocket science to prepare for a promotion. Getting your website to work properly and putting in measures to deal with problems before they arise? Is it more complicated than I would suggest?

How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!


If you suffer problems with goods and services and need to complain see the Tips for effective complaining and for even more information, advice guidance, consumer law and templates GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!


*refer a friend link so I’ll get a few pennies if you sign up and you’ll get some as a welcome