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!

Getting help for Coronavirus cancellation claims and shopping

During the current crisis, most businesses are doing the right thing when it comes to refunding consumers affected by cancellations.

For example, I had tickets booked for a charity comedy night full of A-list comedians and waited for news about the event. I was interested to see if they could reschedule (highly unlikely given all the names involved) and whether they would ask if I would like to make a donation to the charity. In fact, I received an email to say they were looking to reschedule a number of events and, soon after, received an email listing all the dates that were cancelled and those that were rescheduled. Ours was, of course, cancelled. The refunding of the card was already underway, according to the email.

However there are a number of companies still not doing the right thing. For example, those which are trying to give credit notes instead of cash refunds.

Whilst even I would say to allow companies a little extra time to give you that refund (and I would normally NEVER say that!) due to the amount of refunds that they are having to be processed, your consumer rights remain the same in all circumstances whether they are COVID-19 related, or not.

The crisis has hit nearly every sector. There is some support for many businesses, so it is not right for the consumer to bankroll these companies and also be out of pocket.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is closely monitoring businesses through this period. It has the power to open a consumer enforcement if it finds strong and compelling evidence that the law might have been broken. It can call on the company to change their behaviour by committing to formal undertakings or promises. If they refuse, then the case can be taken to court. It won’t take on individual cases but it is worth reporting any offending companies to the CMA.

The CMA is also monitoring price hiking (also known as “gouging”) and will similarly tackle companies that are attempting to profit from the current situation.

Coronavirus and price hikes

Help with getting the refund you are owed from business

Posts which will help with various scenarios:

Don’t get tied in knots over wedding cancellation some venues are not fully refunding couples, charging them fees, not providing a like-for-like alternative next year etc. Here’s what to do about it!

Coronavirus and travel – who’s taking advantage? outlines the law and what the different relevant agencies are saying/doing about travel companies and airlines and refunds.

Travel in the time of Coronavirus – Your rights explained  outlines what your rights are and how to assert them regarding holidays and flights in this country and abroad.

Coronavirus related cancelled and postponed events your rights outlines your rights and how to assert them when events in this country or abroad are cancelled.

Online shopping – know your rights during the pandemic explains your rights and how to assert them when things go wrong with an online shop

Coronavirus - how to ensure you gain redress when a venue cancels

Wedding venues and insurance Watchdog The One Show

Your consumer rights when shopping in store during a pandemic

 

Further help with getting redress

Top 20 Tips How to Complain! Use these tips when you complain to be effective!

Ceoemail.com is a site which gives you the contact details for CEOs. The CEO may not respond personally but it does get the matter escalated and you should get a response from one of the executive team.

Cover of How to Complain updated 2019 large cow logo

 

For more advice, tips and templates for complaining GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

 

 

Stressed out by the situation?

Stressful time? Alternative therapy

green background how to assert your legal rights Covid-19 related issuesCOVID-19 scams – How to stay safe a guest post by Paul Newton regarding current Covid-19 related scams.