There used to be a very funny (until it became annoying) tv campaign on British TV where an opera singer would jump out from a bush, or an Egyptian pyramid, or a sand dune, bellowing “Go compaaaaare!!!”
Well, today I want to sing the praises of the British customer complaint system: go complain!!!!
We’ve all been incredibly annoyed if not freaking furious with a train company for its delays, a gas company for its over estimated bills, an Internet provider for its random service… Well, in many countries, you ring them up to complain, if you’re lucky you get a fairly bored person saying sorry and promising it won’t happen again, more often you won’t even get that apology but rather something like “this is the way it is, s*** happens, goodbye!”
Not in Britain.
Americans can laugh at the British obsession with being polite and apologetic, but what you learn here is that if we foreigners also start being polite, managing our very unbritish desire to insult people for their incompetence, we can get everything we wish for and more.
In Britain instead of shouting on the phone to some 21 year old call centre agent, I can easily find the address of the company’s head office on their website (which will be clear and up to date) and write a letter (not an email! A letter! One of those things that come in an envelope) of complaints.
Of course I won’t be rude, but I’ll be firm – clearly summarising the events – politely outraged – explaining what a loyal customer I’ve been, how I loved their services and how disapponted and distressed I feel at their misconduct.
Of course I’ll close the missive by adding that with regrets I’ve decided never to use their services again.
I’ll sign “yours sincerely”, give them my best regards and post it.
And, voila, within a week, I’ll have somebody from the CEO’s office ringing me on the phone.
They not only will apologise but will offer a compensation, begging me not to leave them…
Yes yes it’s a game, and they will win, because by effectively “bribing” me with their gifts and politeness they will keep me as a customer.
But at least I’m given the illusion that what I say actually counts.
When the managing executive of a famous airline actually calls me on my mobile to offer me a full refund to compensate me for the horrible experience I had on their planes, there’s a sense of satisfaction in knowing my voice has been heard.
When I get a voicemail from a phone company’s CEO office saying they’re going to wave my bill and offer me a ten pound discount for next month, the world for a second is a better place.
So go complain! Don’t give up before trying!
It’ll only cost you a stamp…
Self satisfied expression please?