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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!

Watchdog Customer Service contact investigation

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.

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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. That’s how to contact a CEO! 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

How to escalate your consumer issue

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.

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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!

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Complaining about customer service Complaining about faulty goods Laws

7 Common fob offs that companies use to not give refunds!

Many companies and individuals will try and fob you off in order not to give you a refund or redress. Below are some common ones of which you should be aware and know how to deal with.

Know the rules

“We do not give refunds”

Signs like this are illegal and you can report them to Trading Standards. Traders do not have to give you a refund if you have simply changed your mind about a purchase or the jumper didn’t fit for example, but if the item is faulty you are legally entitled to a full refund, (unless the fault was pointed out at time of purchase) until the time that you are deemed to have “accepted” the goods. “Accepted” is generally thought to be up to 4 weeks after that you are still entitled to a replacement or repair. If you put up a fight though you’ll usually get a refund, I always have!

“You/we will send it back to the manufacturer

Your contract is always with whoever received your money. If you buy a kettle from store A which was made by company B and that kettle stops working you are entitled to the repair, refund or replacement from company A.

This is a classic fob off often used by the likes of Curry’s. Renowned for trying to sell unnecessary warranties and denying people their consumer rights for many years.

“You will need to contact the delivery firm”

That kettle you bought from store A was delivered to your house and the delivery driver dropped it, or left it on the doorstep and it was stolen. Store A is wrong to tell you to contact the delivery firm. Your contract is with store A and you claim your refund from it. It can claim from the delivery firm! More here.

“You should have taken out a warranty”

Warranties are rarely worth the paper they are written on in my opinion! Items should last a reasonable length of time, a washing machine should last more than 6 months so it is wholly irrelevant whether you have taken out a warranty. So, even if your washing machine is a few years old you can still get that free repair or replacement.

Currys is a big culprit for this.
story post from LI about standing in Currys demanding replacement laptop

 

More on What is a warranty, a guarantee and my consumer rights?

“We don’t take back items bought in the sale”

Unless the fault was pointed out at time of purchase (and therefore contributed to the sale price) your legal rights remain the same as if the item was sold at full price.

“You caused the fault

If an item breaks up to 6 months from purchase then it is up to the trader to prove that the fault was caused by you and was not there at time of purchase and therefore you are legally entitled to the full refund, repair or replacement.

If you reject the item within 30 days you need to prove fault was there at point of purchase and are entitled to a full refund. After this time the above applies for a repair or replacement.

“You don’t have the receipt so we can’t give a refund”

The law states proof of purchase so this could be a credit card bill, easier to find online now than an old receipt.

“It is over 6 months so we do not need to give a refund”

As a general rule this is correct. You are entitled to a repair or replacement 30 days after the point of purchase. But if you can still prove that the fault was there at point of purchase and/or the item has not lasted ‘a reasonable length of time’ then you can and should get a replacement or free repair if not the refund. More at The Consumer Rights Act 2015.

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For help with consumer laws, tips, information and template letters GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

 

 

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If you want to take the effort and time out of looking up the laws and compiling an effective letter of complaint you can also Purchase downloadable templates to gain redress

 

5 top tips for complaining effectively