Can’t find a company email address? Here’s how to get it!

Customer service: Email still beats webchat and phone calls

Many companies make it difficult for customers to complain.

I have always advocated writing to companies when complaining, for several reasons.

1) So that you have the evidence trail should you need to take the matter further

2) You can ensure that you have covered everything you need to do and

3) You can delete and rewrite if you are getting angry while drafting, which you can’t do on the phone!

Yesterday (1 July 2020) BBC Watchdog aired their investigation into companies which made it difficult for customers to contact them. It showed people not able to get through on webchat or being cut off on phone calls. It also showed how some companies refused to provide an email address for customer service. More businesses are doing this as people learn that to complain effectively and to go to an ombudsman – or go to court – they will need that written evidence to prove the case.

The programme covered Currys, Ikea, Three, Sainsbury’s. One viewer said he was 167th in the queue on a webchat and waited over an hour when it all disappeared and he had to start again. One caller was waiting for 5 hours and another for 7 hours trying to reach someone at Currys.

Sainsburys does not currently have a customer service email address. I discovered this back in February and when I asked them why this was, a spokesperson said “We regularly review our services and made these changes long before our priority delivery slots launched. Customers can continue to contact us via phone, Twitter and Facebook.”

Companies may be removing email addresses as a cost-cutting exercise, or deliberately, in order to make it more difficult for customers to complain. The more difficult it is to complain, the less likely people are to do it.

Chat bots can be irritating and like webchat you can’t guarantee you will have a record of everything. So you really want to email.email icon

How to email when companies don’t want you to!

However, it IS possible to email companies quite easily. The website Ceoemail.com provides the email addresses for the CEOs of companies free of charge. When emailing the CEO it is unlikely that the CEO will personally respond (although a few do) but it does get a response from the CEO’s executive team and you will have a written record of your complaint.

So for example, some of the companies named on BBC Watchdog as ones where you could not easily contact them by email plus a few more….. here you go…so now you can…

Currys

Ikea

Three

Sainsburys

British Gas

What about social media?

You can also use social media but do be aware that it has its limitations. People frequently say 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 it may be possible to get a good result.

Used in the right way social media can be a good tool to name and shame and speed things up but that’s the limit., 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. See 5 ways how not to use Twitter to complain (and 5 ways how you should) to get the best from complaining using Twitter.

Successful companies are easily contactable and accountable

It is very shortsighted of companies to behave in this manner. In general people don’t mind when companies make mistakes, it’s how they deal with them that matters. If they make it difficult for customers to complain then those customers will tell others, the company’s reputation  and stop using the company..

But don’t be beaten!

Further help

See Top 20 Tips How to Complain! for how to write an effective email.

Cover of How to Complain updated 2019 large cow logo

 

For masses of information, tips, guidance, laws and regulations and templates GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

3 Complaint handling frustrations & 3 ways to resolve them

How to resolve 3 complaint handling annoyances

I’ve been a consumer champion for a number of years, with thousands of social media and blog followers who regularly tell me what they dislike about customer service and complaint handling! But some of these issues are easily resolved.

man with aglass of milk in home on phone

Not listening to what the issue is

This is obviously a biggie. Whenever I ask my social media followers what is the most important thing that customer service assistants should do when dealing with complaints, this is right up there in the most common answers.

What could/should be done?

It is often flippantly said but it is important to actively listen. Staff need to be trained with ongoing monitoring that they are acknowledging what people are saying and respond appropriately. Empathy needs to be shown and staff need to demonstrate acknowledgement of what they are being told. They should then address what needs to happen to satisfy the customer, agreeing a mutually acceptable outcome.

Fobbing off!

As a consumer champion I probably hear more stories of people being fobbed off than anything else. These are the most common. 7 Common fob offs that companies use to not give refunds! Large store chains are frequently the biggest culprits. Companies try to get away with offering a repair or exchange, rather than a refund for faulty goods. Unless people know their consumer rights the companies often get away with it too. When consumer rights are mentioned, it all changes. For example, I went into a very well-known phone shop to take back a phone that I had had for two years and asked for a free repair or replacement and was refused. I said that under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 items must last a reasonable length of time. The response “Oh, consumer rights, yes we will repair it for free”. The conclusion one draws from this is that anyone who doesn’t know their rights would not have had a free repair.

What could/should be done?

Be honest! It is short sighted to try and fob people off. You may save the cost of one item but you lose goodwill and risk that person later finding out their consumer rights. They can share their story with thousands of others and it will affect your company’s reputation and cause loss of custom. You do not know how many customers you lose because they don’t return. Treat customers right and let them do the word of mouth marketing for you, for free!

A lesson in complaint handling

Not giving me what I want!

Well, this is interesting because not all customers know what they want! Or their expectations are too high. So, customers might just want a rant or they might ask for a free holiday because their bed was uncomfortable in the hotel!  Or they aren’t telling you what they want!

What could/should be done?

Staff need to be given lots of role playing in their training! Skills need to be sought and developed in asking the right questions to find out what it is that the customer wants. Customers often have unrealistic expectations because they don’t know what to ask for or what is on offer. So, ensure staff have a number of options available and are empowered to offer them and implement them. Staff can provide two options, for example, making the second one sound much better for the customer, using such phrases like “The other option I can do is…” This is giving some ownership and empowerment to the customer, who is going to like being given a choice.