Beware of Warning Labels!

Remember Millie? She had a problem with Kelloggs.  Well a little time before that her mother had a problem with Lakeland Plastics.

Laura purchased their “Blitz that Mould” mould and algae stain killer to tackle the mouldy patches around her house. Upon reading the label on the front & back she duly made sure the rooms were well ventilated and tested on an inconspicuous area (as advised). Upon finding no adverse reactions she continued spraying the affected areas, returning 30 minutes later to see amazing results!

She decided to spray the damp patch inside her wardrobe which is an alcove in the bedroom with a door on (so not a standalone piece of furniture). The damp patch was on the sloping ceiling part so after checking the instructions again, she opened the windows and lightly sprayed the black area. She returned 30 minutes later and the spray had stained her clothing (which she did not remove prior to spraying as the label did not stipulate it was unsuitable for fabrics) – in total the spray ruined 4 jackets, 3 shirts, 1 cardigan and a top! Ummm!

Beware the warnings!

She re-read the labels which merely stated it was not to be used on enamel, marble, aluminium wood and granite, it did not mention anywhere that it should be kept away from fabrics or that it contained bleach – only “Contains: Less than 5% Anionic Surfactants, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Hypochlorite” – which means very little to the general public.

So, step forth The Complaining Cow. I wrote up the above and added in that Under the Sale of Goods and Services Act (From October 1st 2015 use the Consumer Rights Act.)  the product was not fit for purpose, not of satisfactory quality and misleading which also falls under the Consumer Regulations 2008. (Misleading omissions Part 2 Prohibitions). Ah you didn’t know that one did you? Always do your research to throw everything you can at them – there’s another tip to the other 20! 🙂

Photos were sent with the email with a breakdown of the costs of the damaged clothes totalling £365 and photos.

Off went the email and Laura got quite a speedy response back. They wanted her to ‘phone her. HATE that. So off went another email saying No! Everything in writing, always. Eileen came back asking for Laura to return the bottle. Now, you have to be careful here too, what if it gets lost in the post? What if they test it and say it’s ok when clearly it wasn’t? You ask for them to pay postage and you tell them that you are keeping some in case you need to do your own tests if you take the matter further, that’s what you do.

Well, she got an email back saying that the product had actually been recalled and it now has a warning about a bleaching action. She offered £400. My guess was that their insurance kicks in at £500 so we tried to up it. Asked for a further £100 and got £50. So not a bad result. I have to say they were pretty good in the way they dealt with the matter. But why is it that all the high pay out complaints I do are for other people?!

 

7 Questions you should ask yourself if you don’t complain!

It’s National Consumer week. A good time to ask “Why Complain?”

Because it’s fun! Well it can be. Nothing the British like more than a good complain. Or is it a moan? Well there’s the difference I feel. Complaining effectively gets results and it is about consumer rights. Your rights as a consumer.

I don’t waste time looking for things to complain about. I don’t waste time complaining about trivial things (oh ok sometimes just for a laugh but rarely) and I don’t make up complaints. So don’t accuse me of doing so.  I am effective complainer what type of complainer are you?

So, to those of you who accuse the complainers of wasting their life, making things up and only after freebies I ask you these questions.

1) If you have a bad meal do you just accept it?

You do? FOOL. You legally don’t have to accept it. Rather than causing a scene or complaining in writing later you think just putting it down to bad luck makes you better than the complainer? Really? I complain – I get a voucher and I go back. Win win situation for restaurant and me. Your way, you don’t go back, lose lose or is that just “LOSER”?!

2) If you buy something faulty do you keep it?

WHY?! Do you take it back and get a replacement when you don’t trust the product any more and you’d like to buy a different one but you accept it because you don’t want to assert your legal rights or perhaps you don’t know them? I buy something faulty I get my money back, buy what I want and get redress on top if I have been inconvenienced in anyway or if anything else has been damaged in the process of using the item. How is that wasting my time or not having a life? I’ve improved it. You are stuck with something you don’t want.

3) You say you don’t have time to complain?

No, I don’t really, but that’s why I claim for my time. Simples.

Only once have I ever thought I would rather not have had to complain. I let out my flat and about 3 years ago a washing machine leaked in the flat above. Twice! My tenant was basically without a usable kitchen for 18 months. I was lucky he didn’t leave. AVIVA staff were appalling as were the contractors to do the work. The printed off email correspondence was over an inch thick. I think I’d still be getting the work done now if I hadn’t had to complain nearly every day. I did get about £800 and I have no idea what that works out as an hourly rate, but even I would rather have just had good service!

Still want to insult the complainers? Need more convincing?

4) Don’t you want to improve things for other people? Are you selfish?

Many of my complaints have resulted in companies changing policies, the way they do things, retraining staff etc. That improves service to all. I am undertaking a public service I feel! Look at what Chris has achieved through his dreadful experience. Three years on and at last Scottish Provident is making changes. He continued his complaining even after eventually receiving redress. If you use life cover in the future with any company, you look at that article and thank him!

There are more examples of how complaining and spreading the word helps too!

5) Are you a man/woman of principle?

Look at my taking Tesco to court. Now, some people think it was a poor return for the money. It was the principle of the thing!! They took my money! In fact the legal process was very quick, it was trying to sort it before that took the time! I’ve had lots of people say they had problems with the Tesco vouchers and they just let it go. Hopefully now, after raising the profile of consumer power people will come to me if it happens again this Christmas. Then, I’ll put the case together and they can all go as one case, time saved, money back. I wonder just how many people lost money last year and didn’t complain? Do you think that’s right? It’s okay for a large company to make money from people who can’t won’t complain? I flipping well don’t and you can call me all the names under the sun, I think I was right to do what I did.

Then there’s the hobby…

6) Can you enjoy it?

When I’m doing the actual complaining I’m frequently quite annoyed (hence as in my tips I rarely doing it in person) but I know I’ll get redress, often it’s of interest guesstimating how much I will get and whether I will be complaining again about their reply. So, call it a hobby, just like writing up my complaints on here is,(which incidentally is sharing experience and advice so helps people!) like any blog writer. So, a hobby. Do you have a hobby? My hobby takes up a little time and costs me no money. I don’t do sport, it avoids sporting injuries. But I don’t have a go at people for their hobbies so don’t have a go at me for mine I say!

Still think I’m the fool for complaining?

7) Would you want people to have poor care?

My father was in hospital for 6 weeks just over two years ago before he died. The treatment he received was appalling. I didn’t want any family to go through what we did or any patient to endure what he did. At times like that people don’t want to complain. That is understandable and I get that, but I wanted to change things for other people. This wasn’t about asserting legal rights, getting money or anything like that. It was about making change happen. I wrote 8 pages of 48 bullet points about his care and a 2 page letter to go with the log. I received back a 7 page letter. This is copied from the letter they sent:

“In conclusion the following will or has been addressed:
Share the complaint with the ward
Review how pain control is managed including training
Review documentation
Arrange training on oral care
Ensure staff know the procedure on escalation if patient dependency is higher than staffing levels can manage
The requirement to inform relatives if a patient falls
Ensure staff work with patients/relatives to complete adult  assessment forms
Improve communication on the ward”

Often people say all they want is an apology. That is very true and we got a lot of sincere apologies in that letter too.

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So, complainers don’t have a life? Are sad? Have too much time on their hands? You remember that when you have your bad meal, had to fork out for a bad service, are stuck with a faulty item and you are out of pocket for something. You remember that when you are able to get a decent life cover policy. You remember that when your Tesco vouchers work this year. You remember that when you have an elderly relative in a hospital in Somerset where the care was good. Perhaps it was because someone took the time to tell the powers that be of problems that they didn’t know about so they could put them right.

So, who still thinks they are better for not complaining? Would love to hear your reasons for not doing any of the above that I and people like me have done. I love a good argument. Provide a good argument for not complaining in the way I do and I’ll publish it. (But don’t think I won’t argue with you!) Alternatively, join in sharing your successes, that’s what I like to see!

Top 20 Tips for Complaining Effectively

 

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

 

Need help? GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow BBC Breakfast TV Discusses How We Complain in the UK

Top five tips to getting your money back after poor customer service | ITV News