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, the companies named on BBC Watchdog as ones where you could not easily contact them by email….. here you go…so now you can…

Currys

Ikea

Three

Sainsburys

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!

Ryanair descends to new lows in customer service ratings

Which? survey reveals league table for customer service

The consumer organisation Which? has today released the results of its latest survey of customer service performance. It asked nearly 4,000 members of the public to rate how the companies make them feel, how helpful and knowledgeable their staff were, and how well they handled complaints.

Ryanair branded “arrogant” “sneaky and “greedy”

Ryanair has been rated the worst firm for customer service out of 100 popular brands operating in the UK.

I don’t think this comes as a surprise to anyone. Ryanair is not known for great customer service.  According to the Which? report, passengers felt undervalued by unhelpful staff and miserable complaints handling. Ryanair came bottom of the table, only managing a paltry customer service score of 45 per cent overall, with the lowest rating of one star in all three categories:

  • Making you feel valued as a customer
  • Attitude/helpfulness of staff
  • Efficiency with solving complaints or problems

Which? said “Presented with a choice of 50 words to describe the airline, most of the airline’s passengers opted for ‘greedy’, ‘sneaky’ and ‘arrogant’, with one going as far as to say “Ryanair seem to make things deliberately difficult in order to make more money out of their customers”.

People take a calculated risk when booking with Ryanair. Every year Ryanair has strikes, every year there are reports of Ryanair trying to fob people off and not pay them compensation due. At some point it has to come to an end for Ryanair. Michael O’Leary, the CEO since 1994, has always been quite open about not caring about his own customers. It seems to be a model that has worked for him and his company. Cheap flights with little investment in training, retaining staff or customer service and complaint handling.

But is it worthwhile for Ryanair to continue this customer-hostile behaviour? There has to be a limit to what people can take, causing an increase in the numbers of passengers who say theu will never fly Ryanair again. When asked about how well the airline handles complaints, half (50%) of respondents gave it the lowest possible rating.

In September 2018 I wrote about Ryanair misleading customers on their consumer rights and again in December Landing in court with Ryanair (what you need to know about airlines and ADR too!).

easyJet, another budget airline, came in at 79th place, not hugely better but it was the highest ranking airline, demonstrating that Ryanair could definitely improve. One can only wonder if the airlines with the cheapest flights invested more in customer service, instead of constantly trying to fob people off and treat them badly, how well they could do. This is of course theoretical, because Ryanair has no intention of improving anytime soon. Numerous media outlets tried to get a statement from them regarding this survey but failed.

Telecoms

It comes as even less of a surprise that three large telecoms providers are right down there at the bottom of the rankings. Having complained to Virgin Media many times and using the Alternative Dispute Resolution scheme three times, winning each time, I can vouch for just how dreadful their service is. It is the sector about which I receive the most complaints, that’s for sure. And let’s not forget the energy companies performing badly too, whether it’s the Big Six or the smaller newcomers to the market.

lap top on woman's knees phone in one hand

 

If you are having problems with your telecom provider see All you need to know about complaining to telecom providers or for energy,

 

Electricity pylon Everything you need to know to complain about energy problems

All you need to know to make a complaint about energy

 

Retailers

The big brand retailers and supermarkets came out well, considering the current difficulties in the High Street. The findings appear to suggest that some stores and supermarkets are getting better at customer service.

In the banking sector, the online bank First Direct took the top slot. A score of 89% is very high! Customers were hugely positive about the bank’s quality of service. Other banks would do well to look at First Direct which has won awards for customer service for a number of years.

Lakeland (87%) was the highest-rated retailer, standing out for the attitude of its staff, where it scored the full five-stars. Customers chose the word ‘helpful’ when given a list of words to describe the brand.

Sports Direct, unsurprisingly, was rated as the worst retailer for customer service with a 58% rating. Customers told Which? that the sporting apparel shop did not make them feel valued. The negative reputation Sports Direct has for treating both its staff and its customers is borne out by the survey.

Customer service dissatisfaction

The findings are in keeping with those from the Customer Service Institute. Last month it published a report Customer service goes down, complaints are going up showing that Customer service is getting worse. The ICS Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) has shown a decline for the fourth consecutive year. And by a significant amount too. 14.3% of consumers said that they experienced a problem with customer service. This represents a rise of 1.5% since last year’s figures.  in a report published last month.

Harry Rose, Editor of Which? Magazine, commented: “The best way to send a clear message to businesses about the importance of customer service is to spend your hard-earned cash with brands that make it a top priority – and don’t hesitate to complain if you feel you’ve been treated poorly.”

Customer service is becoming more important to savvy consumers and those in all the sectors would do well to heed the messages that consumers are sending. Not investing in customer service and complaint handling and fobbing customers off does not help sales. It contributes to a costly high turnover of staff, poor company reputation and a lack of loyalty.

Businesses getting it right see an increase in customer loyalty and better sales as a result. It’s not rocket science!

BBC Breakfast 23/08/19 discussing the Which? report

BBC Breakfast 23/08/19 Helen Dewdney discusses the Which? customer service survey