Let it be said that good and proper complaining is an art. Craft perhaps more than art, but I like to think that mine is done with the flourish of a particularly fine nib.
Most people shuffle and schlep with their tail between their legs at returns and refund queues, they have an odd complex that afflicts them: guilt + insanity hang-up + being pathetically grateful. It’s even worse if they do it by phone. No wonder they get a poor deal.
Age does have something to do with it. Of course it does. Like so many things, positive complaining comes with experience – and with that experience, a certain degree of confidence, of knowing how things are done.
I know now, for example, that when complaining, you go straight to the top. Why mess about with customer services departments when you are most probably going to have to go back and complain to the CEO or MD anyway? Okay, so some customer services departments are great – all hail to John Lewis for one, but the vast majority are inundated will backlogs and quibbles – and if one thing is for certain, at our age, we really do understand that life is too short.
I also know that letter-writing, frightfully old-fashioned as it may be, is best. In that way, you have a proper record of the situation. We all know that emails can get lost in the ether or fall prey to the dreaded spam folder – and Twitter only allows you up to 140 characters. Letter-writing also means you can enclose photographs, documents and receipts to support your case.
My own complaining history began with my eight-year-old self’s scrawl (to Torquay Fun Fair) and since then, I have perfected my art, tweaked it, then refined it some more.
Let’s be straight. When penning your missive, rudeness will not do and neither will shrinking violets and ranting is ugly. Rather, I suggest a cocktail of polite charm, a dash of humour (if appropriate) and brute honesty. Above all, treat the person you are dealing with as an equal (although chances are that you will be feeling the exact opposite is true of them.) The complainee will appreciate your extra effort, while you will be far more likely to receive a positive outcome with everything to gain.
For more of The Queen Of Complaints’ top tips, go to my site here.