Sunday, 15 June 2014

The Art of Complaining

My ice cream production has been brought to a sudden stop. Not because I am unwell, not because I've run our of ingredients or room in the freezer. No, it all came crashing to a halt when my hand mixer died on me.

This is not an old mixer. I bought it about three years ago, when hand mixing cakes etc became too much. I've used it an average of two times per month so was expecting it to last at least five years, hopefully ten. So imagine my surprise when, happily beating egg yolks, I felt a searing pain in my hand and saw the rubber grip melting around my fingers. The machine was dropped and my hand shot under the cold tap where it stayed for a full fifteen minutes. Once my hand and the machine had cooled down, thankfully my hand suffered no damage, I examined the grip and found dents where my fingers had been. I was in shock, it had happened without warning and so quickly. This morning the mixer's on/off switch is permanently fused in the 'off' position, which is probably just as well. Yet another complaint email fired off.

Today I'm making frozen yogurt instead, which does not require the beating of egg yolks or anything else. I'm also making cannelloni so we are having a truly Italian feast today. I had hoped the weather would also get a little Italian like so we could eat out on the decking but it's wet and damp so that plan has gone to the wall too.

As I seem to have been complaining to different companies, for what seems like months, I thought I'd share my top ten tips with you.

1) Never complain straight after an incident. Next day is far better as you will be calmer and less emotional.

2) Take as many pictures as you can, if appropriate, of the thing you are complaining about. I once took pictures of a filthy Burger King and got a profuse apology and loads of vouchers.

3) Stick to the facts. Explain what actually happened without expanding to what might have happened. So if you find a beetle in your salad say so, but don't include things like 'if I had eaten that I might have had an allergic reaction' because that only might have happened, it hasn't actually happened. You cannot be compensated for 'if's'.

4) Do not ramble or use emotional language. If you've been hurt state how the injury happened and again include pictures. There is no need to say how upset you are, that will be a given.

5) If possible include the make and model number of the item, and serial numbers if possible, so the company knows exactly what you are talking about. If it is food, take pictures then put the offending item in a clean sandwich bag and freeze it. This is evidence and if you can't take it back to the shop immediately it may deteriorate along with the bit you are complaining about.

6) Don't threaten things like Trading Standards in your first letter. This is the ace up your sleeve if they refuse to take your complaint seriously. Give the company time to respond with a solution, 28 days is reasonable, then write to Trading Standards, include a dated copy of your original complaint.

7) Find out who the CEO is and address your complaint directly to him. He will pass it on but won't like the fact you have his name so he will want you dealt with as quickly as possible. Doing this is likely to get you a quicker, more positive response.

8) If you can write rather than email. A letter looks better and your complaint is more likely to be taken seriously.

9) Spell and grammar check before you send. Again a well written, polite letter is going to get a much better response than an ill formed rant.

10) Never, ever demand things. Let the company come back with an offer. If the offer is a reasonable one accept with grace and write a letter of thanks for their cooperation. By reasonable I mean proportionate, so if you are complaining about an item that has failed within the first year of use then you should expect a replacement. If it is a few years old then maybe a partial refund would be the most you could expect.

Hope that helps anyone who needs to complain but is not sure of the best way to go about it.

It seems that England lost their opening match to Italy, so they are on form then. I suspect they may well be out of it by the end of the month. No wonder no one is getting excited.

In other news there has been much sadness in the Roberts household over the passing of Rik Mayall and Sam Kelly. Rik was best known for his role in the Young Ones whilst Sam played the brilliantly funny Captain Hans Gerring in 'Allo, 'Allo. Both these men were taken before their time and the world will be a little less humorous with their passing. Thank you gentlemen, for making me laugh so hard my ribs hurt. You will be greatly missed.


Well it's almost time to get going on preparing that cannelloni. My next scheduled blog will be next Friday. Take care and of course I will let you know if call number two comes along.