What should you do if you’re not getting the response that you expect and deserve from a company that has let you down?
Do not give up at the first hurdle. Many companies have a stock response to customer complaint which you may not find gratifying or you may not even receive a response. Some companies seem to hope that the more effort they make it to pursue a complaint complaint, the more likely you are to decide that it’s not worth the hassle. In many consumer complaints cases this is what happens. Don’t fall for it.
One good example is the banks mis-selling of payment protection insurance or PPI. Before the recent court ruling ordering them to pay back mis-sold policies, many complainants received a standard letter and little else from their banks. Of those who then took the matter to the Financial Ombudsman, over 90 per cent were successful in their claim for re-imbursement. The moral of the story is that you don’t have to take a company’s first response to customer complaints as their final response. Keep a record. It’s astonishing how many letters are not received when the envelope contains a complaint. It’s certainly many more then when the envelope contains a cheque. For this reason it is important to keep photocopies of any letters between you and the company. When speaking to company employee on the phone, you should make a note of their full name, the date and time of the call, and what was said. In particular note specific wording of any promises, or admissions of responsibility, that they appear to make.
Take your consumer complaints to the top, as a general rule, the higher up in an organisation you go, the more seriously your complaint will be taken. Of course, common sense needs to be exercised here. Complaining to the CEO of a department store about a loose button on a shirt is likely to be a waste of time; both yours and theirs. However, if you feel that your complaint isn’t being dealt with at the first point of contact, you shouldn’t be shy to take it higher. The higher up in the ranks of the company you go, the more authority that person will have to resolve your consumer complaint. This means that they are generally able to authorise higher compensation payments.
By requesting to take a complaint higher you’re also sending out a very clear message that you’re not happy with the response, and not prepared to accept it. If you still don’t get a response that you’re happy with, you should find out if the organization has a relevant body that you can complain to, such as the Financial Ombudsmen.
While it’s good to know your statutory consumer rights, and be persistent when complaining; it is also important to maintain a sense of perspective. Try not to get caught up in the emotion of the matter, or take it personally. If you feel like you’re banging your head against a brick wall with a company, and the hassle and upset caused by dealing with them is disproportionate to what you would gain from a suitable outcome, then it may be time to cut your losses.