101 Habits of an Effective Complainer. New consumer guide

“If complaining is an art form, Helen Dewdney is Rembrandt” -- Robert Rinder TV Judge, Barrister TV Presenter

101 Habits if an Effective complainer book cover with logoNew consumer guide from best-selling author, The Complaining Cow – released 18 December

The British find it hard to complain and assert their legal rights and it’s even harder when they get fobbed off by companies. Consumers say it can take too much time or they just don’t know where to start. Even after embarking on a complaint, some quite simply don’t have the confidence to keep going. At last, help is at hand. Consumer Champion Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow, has written a new book 101 Habits of an Effective Complainer.

Cover of How to Complain updated 2019 large cow logo

 

The book is released on 18 December 2019 and follows the success of her earlier best-seller How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

Although written in an easy-to-read and light-hearted style, 101 Habits provides readers with the confidence to complain effectively, improving the way people make complaints, so as to get the results they want.

Each page provides a complaining habit to consider and an example of how and why it empowers the reader to become more effective in getting the results they want. These anecdotes come from Dewdney’s own experience or from one of the people she has helped to gain redress using that habit. Accompanying the habit and example is a novelty graphic to illustrate the point!

Whilst some consumer books give the information needed to complain, this new book is unique in that it helps to develop a new mindset for complaining effectively. By showing how and when to complain (and also compliment), the reader will feel empowered to be more positive and confident after reading and using a selection of the 101 habits. Regardless of the issue, whether it’s telecoms, retail, energy or finance, the same basic principles apply to complaining in any sector.

Reviews

Consumer champions have been quick to praise 101 Habits of an Effective Complainer.

When it comes to asserting one’s legal rights Barrister Robert Rinder (TV’s Judge Rinder) knows a thing or two. He says that Dewdney’s book is

“… easy to follow, beautifully written and -- above all -- teaches us that complaining effectively doesn’t require rudeness or angry sharp elbows. Dewdney’s book is a brilliant reminder that being a successful complainer (or getting what you were entitled to in the first place) is simple to achieve and can even be fun. Her superb how-to guide isn’t for ‘complainers,’ it’s for anybody who has ever been a consumer and been let down – it’s for all of us.”

Rinder isn’t the only consumer rights celebrity who has endorsed the book. Matt Allwright, presenter of BBC Watchdog, says:

“Helen’s book gets it spot on, and steers you away from all the complaining cul-de-sacs and coups de foudre. Before you pick up the phone or log in to Twitter -- read it. A great result is probably closer than you think.”

Paul Lewis, the presenter of BBC Radio 4 Moneybox, puts it this way:
“If How to Complain is the essential companion to your shopping then 101 Habits should be by your laptop whenever you think you have been treated badly by a retailer or a business you have dealt with. Breathe deeply. Flex your fingers. And get complaining!”

101 Habits of an Effective Complainer will make a great Christmas present for anyone who needs more confidence in asserting their rights and getting the results they want!

What's in there then?

BA flies in the face of consumer law and decency

Customers who bought tickets for the economy cabin on short-haul and domestic flights from Heathrow and Gatwick flying from January 11, 2017, and from London City and London Stansted by summer 2017 are being stung and will find that food and drinks are no longer free! Has it become a no frills airline? On the 29th September this year BA announced to great fanfare that it had partnered with Marks and Spencer. The new British Airways menu, which will replace the airline’s current complimentary snacks, includes items from the M&S Food on the Move selection. Well that’s nice isn’t it? Well maybe spending a few quid might be better than the free alcoholic drink and a few free nibbles in the future but what about those people who bought their tickets before the 29th September? They lose out, that’s what.

You may think that customers only lost the cost of a drink and a few nuts. But stop, don’t flee yet. How many tickets do you think were purchased before the 29th September this year for flights after the 11th January 2017? Thousands? Tens of thousands? Ok, so just how much have they actually saved? That’s the principle after all. Couple of pounds on every flight, you do the math, it’s thousands and thousands of pounds right?

“Oh” I hear you cry “But BA will refund the cost of the “free” drink and nibbles so they won’t make that money”. Really? It wouldn’t appear so. Those people who have already booked flights received an email starting with “Thank you for booking your flight with British Airways. We’re writing to let you know about some key changes that are taking place to our on-board catering.” The press release followed. There is no mention at all of compensation, partial refund or how to make a complaint. They may not refuse any calls of this nature but why the lack of transparency or assistance for customers. There’s nothing on their website either!

I asked the BA Press Office for a response and so far have not received one. I tweeted BA and they said all flights after 11th Jan will have new catering menu. “Breach of contract” says I and here is their stance on that:

@Airways 

@ComplainingCow Hi Helen, sorry for the delay in replying. We’ve given our customers a four month notice period of the changes… most short-haul customers do not book this far in advance, but any customers who hold bookings from January 11th 2/3… and are unhappy are welcome to contact us to discuss their booking.

So, there you go. BA will discuss your bookings but will not actively point out that they have broken the terms and conditions of contracts.

Right, well that’s it. It’s the principle of the thing. It doesn’t matter if you think it is only a few quid or you are just a bit miffed or even if you don’t care. BA appears to be making money from this. Instead of doing it properly and offering vouchers/AVIOS points or partial refunds to affected customers it would appear that it has simply informed them that the terms and conditions have changed and hoped that the majority of people won’t bother complaining. They would not be out of pocket and the PR would have been much better showing them to be doing the “right thing”.

So, we can’t catch all the customers affected and of those we catch we can’t get them all to complain. But we can have a damn good try at knocking the BA profits and making sure customers actually get what is legally due. How? Like this:

  • Email the CEO. You can find his address at ceoemail.com
  • Provide details of when you bought the tickets and the booking reference numbers
  • Tell him that BA is in breach of contract for breaking the terms and conditions of the contract you have.
  • Say that you are aware that the breach falls under The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, Regulation EC 1008/2008 – Article 23 Transparent pricing, Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and Consumer Rights Act 2015 (including Part 2 Unfair Terms).
  • State that you are entitled to a full refund on the ticket or you will accept a partial refund for the value of the “free” drink and food that formed part of the contract. (Both ways!)
  • Inform him that should you not receive a satisfactory response you will not hesitate in taking the matter further such as the Alternative Dispute Resolution Scheme.
  • Optional – say that you are disgusted with the way BA has handled this matter and will be spreading awareness of people’s legal rights via social media. (And then of course do so, the more people we empower to fight for their rights the better so do your bit!)

Don’t be fobbed off by any  requests to call an 0844 number either as these are no longer permitted for after-sales enquiries and issues, Regulation 41 of  aforementioned Consumer Contracts (Information Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. Refuse to ‘phone anyway because you want your answer in writing should you need the evidence! A call won’t give you that. Why you should write not ‘phone to complain effectively.

If you bought your ticket(s) through a travel agent you will need to contact them as if you paid the travel agent directly the contract is with them.

Beat BA at their own game and don’t let these big businesses get away with it. Call them out on it and ensure you get your legal redress whilst you are about it.

If you want to do more about asserting your legal rights and need some help. See the Top 20 Tips for complaining effectively and the book How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results packed full of information, guidance, advice, consumer law and template letters.