This week on Loose Women, conversation turned to that most British of subjects – making complaints. As Ruth Langsford mentioned on the show, we are, traditionally, a nation known for politeness, but it looks as if we Brits are actually beginning to embrace the art of complaining.
“Last year we made 66,000,000 complaints,” Ruth told the panel. “That’s more than one per person in the UK! But it seems that being online is what has encouraged us all to complain now.”
We must admit, we too are more likely to complain now we can contact a brand directly through websites like Twitter. It’s just so easy! But Gloria Hunniford was quick to raise the point that voicing a complaint the old fashioned way could actually be more successful:
“The thing is that part of my professional life I spend in consumer programmes… there are complaints about banks, crazy holiday horror stories, and particularly about energy.”
And Gloria’s experience has taught her that complaining is something of an art form…
“You have to teach people how to complain,” she told the panel, “And part of our programme does that, because you have to have tenacity. If you believe you’ve got a genuine complaint and you’re being ripped off, you’ve got to keep at it – we say you’ve got be like a terrier!
“You’ve got to stick with it, you’ve got to go to the top man if you think you’ve got a genuine cause.”
And if you’re a little confused about who the ‘top man’ actually is? You’ll want to pay attention to Ruth Langsford’s next question:
“How do you find out who to complain to? Because often you’re standing there listening to Greensleeves for half an hour before you get through to anybody!”
“You’ve got so many places,” Gloria told her. “Citizens Advice for example, which is a free service, will always give you the best advice. The Ombudsman, in the long run, who is going to take up your case. The area that I feel is very vulnerable though, is a lot of older people do not own computers, and do not have the time, the energy or the tenacity to do it.”
Janet Street-Porter, however, showed the audience just want Gloria means when she says ‘tenacity’:
“I did have one success last week. You know how we’re busy, we go out and we buy something online, and then pay quite a lot of money to have it delivered in a timeslot, and they ring up and say they’re early! Well it’s only luck I’m in, and it was a giant bed, so I was so annoyed about this. I wasn’t rude to the delivery men because obviously they’d had to carry it up the stairs, then I went back later and asked for a £19 refund for my premium delivery!”
“Good for you,” agreed Gloria, leading a round of applause.
Not everybody has Janet’s drive, however. Ruth was quick to point out just how frustrating it can be to be left hanging on the phone.
“I have no problem complaining if I’m in a restaurant or a shop, and I’m very polite when I do it, but online I start getting a bit bored, and I give up quite quickly. You know if I have to do things more than three times, or if you’re hanging on the phone? Then, I’m not very tenacious.”
“Well, now I’m terrible,” Coleen Nolan added. “I’m one of these people who rants and raves around my kitchen and then they go, “Yes okay, well, sorry about that, we’ll just put you through to…” and I go “Okay” and quietly put the phone down.”
Gloria Hunniford goes so far as to check her credit card statements, and doesn’t hesitate to make a complaint when something doesn’t add up.
“Another place I find a lot of mistakes is my credit cards,” she told the panel. “I check my credit cards all the time. I once got charged for a dress three times because she kept saying the machine wasn’t working properly.
“You’ve got to take charge,” she added, with a glint in her eye.
“When was the last time you checked your credit card statement?” Ruth asked Coleen.
Sheepishly shaking her head, her co-panellist replied: “I haven’t got a credit card!”
“She can’t be trusted,” whispered Ruth.
Have you checked your credit card statement recently, or been compensated after making a complaint? Maybe, on the other hand, you hate complaining, and are content to just let things go. Let us know!