Make the effort and complain – it may be worth your while

Liam Tarry's picture

Let’s face facts, we're a nation that loves to moan. Nothing escapes our attention, from the weather to the increasing cost of food and fuel, but when it comes to poor customer service and substandard products we just don’t formalise our gripes enough.

At the moment I commute in to my job here at Moneywise towers, and fork out nearly £400 a month to the train company National Express for the privilege. Last month it actually took me six hours to get home one evening (due to a train ripping down over a mile of power lines), followed by even more delays throughout June.

After contacting customer services directly and writing a strong letter of complaint, I was sent £215 of compensation vouchers for my ‘month of misery’, included in this was £60 in goodwill. Although they had to be put towards further travel, it brought my monthly season ticket down to only £150, helping to pay my mortgage.

Other notable successes have included a £75 British Airways voucher, £150 compensation for a holiday that was nothing like what was described, and a significant discount an electric guitar that had a small scratch. Not to be outdone I’m currently going through a complaints procedure to try and get a replacement mobile phone, as my current one seems to have given up the ghost.

Yes, I am officially customer service departments’ worst nightmare. But given the amount of money they make from us, poor products and poor customer service are just not acceptable, especially in the current economic climate.

In fact, the financial services industry has often come into the firing line – payment protection insurance, unfair bank charges, mortgage endowments, sale-and-rent back schemes, problems with switching accounts, the list goes on. Recently the official watchdog the Financial Ombudsman Service revealed that complaints about financial products increased by 27% in the last year. Interestingly complaints about PPI in the first three months of 2008 were actually more than in the whole of 2007!

Making a complaint may seem like a real struggle, but taking just a few minutes out of your day to put pen to paper can truly be rewarding.

Liam Tarry is the staff writer at Moneywise

Your Comments

I agree, we have come to expect poor customer service in this country.

I have on occasion been out for a restaurant meal with friends, where the food and /or service has been appalling. Much to my companions' embarrassment, I have always complained when I feel it is justified, always bearing in mind that you get what you pay for. I have no qualms about sending food back if it is badly cooked, or, even worse, cold. Sometimes an apology is forthcoming, usually closely followed by an excuse. On occasion an amount will be deducted from the bill or a free bottle of wine given.

I also write letters of complaint when I feel I have been ripped off - I usually receive a letter of apology and occasionally, vouchers or a refund. Some companies are much better on customer service than others.

If I buy something new and it has a defect, I will return it or ask for a full or partial refund.. One friend says I am "too fussy" but I dont agree, we should stand up for our rights.

It is not about money or compensation, I would rather not waste the time, the energy, the paper or the stamps!

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