The art of complaining

Apparently we are rubbish at it, us Brits. We’d rather quietly seethe than give voice to any kind of negative comment or any hint that we are complaining.

I’m an occasional complainer, mainly because I just don’t see the need to bother with things I consider mundane so I tend to save up my complainments* and currently they are all being focussed on a letter of complaint.

There is a twisted joy to writing a nice meaty letter of complaint, I guess it’s akin to actors preferring to play the bad guy, it’s much more fun. That said I have never ever written a letter of praise. Maybe I should do one of those too, balance out the karma??

Anyway, as we will be without a kitchen until the first week in April, at the earliest, then I’m currently pulling together a letter pointing out that the delay was entirely the fault of the surveyor not doing his job (he didn’t check the electrics or plumbing, both of which the contract confirms he has to verify as being up to scratch) and that we expect some compensation for the inconvenience. I’m still trying to figure out the amount.

Thankfully we’ve only paid a deposit so have a few thousand pounds worth of bargaining chips.

Part of me is hacked off it’s going to take so long, part of me is relieved that the end is starting to appear over the horizon, even if it’s still a little too far away.

If this were a movie, this is the part where I lick my pencil, and starting scribbling on a yellow legal pad.

But this isn’t a movie (hopefully you’ve noticed that already) so I’ll flip to the Firefox tab that has Google Docs open, and start composing my magnum opus in the field of letters of complaint.

* I am fighting against made up words at work right now (“productizing” anyone??) and it’s kinda turned into … well making up words all over the place.

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Long time blogger, Father of Jack, geek of many things, random photographer and writer of nonsense.

Doing my best to find a balance.

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I still think the Irish are the worst at complaining. The usual opinion is “ah sure, it’s grand”.

“Do you want me to remove that fly from your soup sir?”

“Ah no, sure it’s grand”

How we’re also simultaneously the worst at complaining and the best at whinging though, is beyond me. We almost never complain when it’ll actually make any difference, but we’ll whinge about it no end after the fact. We’ll even whinge about the fact that we didn’t complain enough about something.

Actually, I do make a point of trying to praise as well as complain – I kind of figure that if I’m prepared to do the one, I ought to do the other. Also, I worked in Customer Service for a long while and am still battle-scarred! I don’t tend to do either by letter – usually email or in person (don’t like telephones either – see previous battle-scarring). I also try and send suggestions too.

I have had the headmistress of eldest’s school telling me that I wrote the most constructive letter from a parent she’s ever received, but on the other hand I’m probably blacklisted by many companies as “that annoying woman who won’t go away” ๐Ÿ˜€

Well my letter will offer suggestions as well as outlining the actions I expect to be taken.

My current job is for a company that creates contact centre software and a lot of the discussions we have are around how our product can improve the kind of experiences I’ve just gone through (yesterday we could get no info, today I find out that was because the person we dealt with yesterday didn’t have access to the warehouse system. So give him access already!).

You are right though, we all should take more time to congratulate and praise, and like Matt says, stop spending so much time whining about not complaining enough! LOL

If your company did the new software for Standard Life’s new call centre system, then you’re miles ahead of the game. If not, it’s worth checking out, because that’st he future, IMHO.

Be very careful about getting into conflict about the amount of compensation now – they may otherwise refuse to finish the job until you’ve paid up.

If you want an opinion on your finished letter before sending it, then I’m your Witch – wing it over ๐Ÿ™‚ My top tips – keep it short, keep it factual, keep it polite, and, as you say you’re doing, be clear about what outcomes you expect.

Hi BW – was hoping you’d swing past.

I won’t be sending the letter until the kitchen has been installed, we have 3 months to pay them after that. And I will take you up on your offer re: your opinion.

As for Standard Life – yes, that was us – WE ARE THE FUTURE!!

You’ll be pleased to know that when I rang Standard Life, I demanded to speak to a manager – to pass on my congratulations. For everything except the 0845- number they still insists on using.

I look forward to marking your letter ๐Ÿ˜‰ (a breakdown/justification for expenses claimed usualy helps too)

mum says:

I quite often write letters of praise when merited – it can be quite lucrative too. I’ve had complimentary vouchers to buy more of a product when I’ve written to say I liked it. Filling in questionnaires in eateries have resulted in free meal offers by return of post.
I really agree with BW about not getting into dispute until the kitchen is in.

Good luck with the letter of complaint.

I hate made up words in ads too. What about improper use of words. There is one product that claims that it “fragrances as it cleans”! That drives me bonkers! Fragrances is the plural of fragrance NOT a verb!

I’m glad I haven’t heard or seen the use of the new word productizing. That’s a stinker.

Verbing wierds language.

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