Let’s talk about complaining

Let’s talk about complaining


I like to think that I’m a good complainer (some might say, moaner).

I know it’s not one of life’s most endearing traits – no one puts in on their LinkedIn or dating profile …but  it does come in handy sometimes.

However, I’m sure I’m not alone in noticing it’s got more difficult to complain these days.

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In days of yore, you simply looked up the Phone Directory (remember them) phoned a company, asked for the Complaints Department, had a good old moan to an actual person, felt better, and things got sorted; OR you posted off your empty packet of Revels, with a letter explaining your disappointment at the lack of orange ones and within a couple of weeks you’d receive three packets in the post.

Dear Sir, there were no Orange ones

Now – jeez, it’s a minefield. Companies have perfected the art of avoiding customers.

Search Contact Us on the average website and if you can find a phone number in under 12 minutes, then I’m officially nominating you for the Complaining Team at the next Olympics.

Generally you’ll end up being directed to some horrible form where you have to provide your mother’s maiden name, a list of all the Brownie badges you were awarded and the nickname of the person you lost your virginity to, then you end up in a drop down menu where you get to pick a complaint, which never actually covers what you’re on about.

So here are a few tips for to become…


Go to the Top 

Don’t mess about listening to a bad rendition of We Are Family for 23 minutes while you press for 1 for this and 2 for that, then, desperately try to remember your first pet’s nickname.

Check out the Investor Relations bit of a website or Google the board of directors, or try this website to find out the email address of the Boss Person and fire off an email – try saying it with a smile.

I find it effective to open with something along the lines of….I know I am really important to you – BECAUSE I’VE SPENT 25 MINUTES OF MY LIFE  LISTENING TO YOUR MESSAGE TELLING ME SO… so, here’s how you can make me a feel special  – sort this out and send me a nice bouquet of flowers and we’ll forget this ever happened. Agreed?

Dear Handsome

When I was on the verge of a BT-induced nervous breakdown I found out the photograph of the board, wrote the handsome one – Gavin someone, (who is now Chief Exec – go on Google him, he’s a bit of a dish), told him I was writing to him BECAUSE he was the best looking guy on the board, and within an hour his office was on the phone and sorted out whatever the hell the problem was.

Complaining About A Meal is Pointless

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Restaurant staff are under orders to smile and ask if you enjoyed your meal – expecting us Brits to smile back and say yes it was wonderful.

Generally I stick to the script, say Delicious –  can I please see the Dessert menu …but, occasionally if it’s really rubbish, I just can’t help myself, I make one of my disgruntled faces and a Not so Great wavy hand gesture and its leaves the wait-person (hate that word) looking shocked and hurt and they don’t know what to do  (no one has told them what to do or given them permission to do anything) so they start to back away, nodding their head sadly and I feel awful and I’ve just killed the whole night.

So I try not to do it.

My I’ve-Tasted-Better Face

Do that in the USA however, and the wait-person will comp your meal, insist on bathing your feet in rose petal water and arrange for you to be put up in the 5-star hotel for the next week.

Think like Philadelphia Lawyer


 I felt like I’d got OJ Simpson off the time Glasgow City Council dropped a parking fine demand.

Get yourself a cup of tea… Once upon a time, a long time ago in old Glasgow town it was very rainy (surprise) and I was in a bit hurry (surprise) so I fed a small fortune into a parking metre (surprise), duly stuck the parking voucher on my windscreen, did what I had to do and returned to find a BIG FAT parking ticket slipped under my windscreen wiper, like a perverse love letter.

I swore a bit, then scrabbled about the floor of my car (it didn’t take long… it’s a VW UP) and discovered my parking voucher on the floor, with the rather un-sticky sticky bit lying beside it.

Elementary…as Sherlock might say.

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The minute I got home I dashed off an appeal letter, enclosing…

No Stick vs Plenty of Stick

Exhibit A – My parking voucher along with the un-stick sticky bit


Exhibit B – An example of a similar ticket with perfectly sticky sticky bit still stuck to the ticket

And like all the best TV lawyers I finished with…

I put it to you that a combination of Inclement Weather and Glasgow City Council’s (long tension-creating pause)…


were to blame for this unfortunate incident.

And what do you know, I won!

Well, I didn’t actually win anything…I just didn’t get fined for something I didn’t do, or did do. You know what I mean.

Don’t Delay

Strike while you’re absolutely fuming – see above – or you’ll lose the impetus.

Use Twitter

Even if you hate Twitter it’s worth having an account just to complain. All big companies now like to deal with complaints via Twitter Direct Message (DM)… and put a lot of resource into it.

It keeps it…shhhh… between you and them.

Tweet something like this…  Appalled (Upset/Horrified/Disgusted/My Life Ruined  By) @COMPANY NAME Auto Renewal up 30%. Spent 40 mins on phone and no joy  and I promise you’ll hear back before you’ve had time to make a cup of tea.

Even from the likes of Scottish Power, who knocked £300 off my annual bill (they had me on some crazy tariff for a year before I noticed) one Sunday morning before 10 am

Be explicit

A daily scone and all will be forgiven

 State what you want …. I want my broadband to be faster/ electricity to be cheaper/ renewal premium to be less than 64% + a freshly baked scone delivered to my door each day c. 11 am for the next week.

Avoid automatic Renewal

 Auto renewal is the work of the devil. Companies (insurance are the worst) will herd you into their automatic renewal set-up without you noticing and before you know your insurance premium is up 40% on last year.

Renegotiate EVERYTHING (TV, mobile, electricity, your budgie’s pet insurance ) every year – mark it in your diary. And when you do call select the Thinking of Leaving Us option (it’s generally about 15 minutes into a call) – as they have some leeway to negotiate.

Be nice – it’s not the fault of the part-time students or zero hour contract guys in the call center BUT if you get cut off, having spent 30 minutes getting through to someone you have my permission to phone back and shout and swear.

 Don’t go just yet…I’d like to finish this with a proper moan…well two actually

1/ I can’t remember the last time I heard of a car being broken into or stolen or a radio nicked ….it used to happen all the time – so how come car insurance is so expensive?   (whiplash shmiplash )


2/ How people with no IT skills or older folk manage their way through this crapola is beyond me


Stop treating us like schmucks.

And can we also have some world peace, please?


Don’t miss a trick…you can also find me on…

Twitter @MidlifeSmarts

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/MidlifeSmarts

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.co.uk/midlifesmarts

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