The fact that there’s a ‘Grumpy old man’ category on my blog should be a clue that from time to time I may be prone to complaining. Judging by a recent example from my dad (he was complaining to Tiscali who were being particularly incompetent at canceling his account), I think I must have inherited it.

I’ve had a reasonable success rate resolving complaints so, after spotting @Susan_Phillips_ was having trouble with AOL, I thought I’d post a few tips:

  • Don’t get angry, particularly at any individual. It’s not nice and it won’t help.
  • Keep notes. It will probably take a little while to resolve a complaint, so keep track of what happened and who you’ve spoken to.
  • Write. It’s unlikely anyone in a call centre will be able to help you and, if there is, you’re even less likely to get through to them! It’s also much harder to ignore a written complaint when it arrives recorded delivery.
  • Get advice. For example, Hampshire has a consumer advice page and Consumer Direct has more advice and template letters.

It might take a bit of persistence to get anywhere, but it’s usually worth it. I tend to write to the customer service manager but my dad had to go to the managing director to sort out his problem with Tiscali, and you should too if no one else is helping. Just make sure your complaint is reasonable and clearly state what the company needs to do to resolve it.

Obviously not every company will do the right thing, but they never will if you don’t give them the chance. For example, O2 did cancel my contract and give me a refund when I had problems with them, so I would consider going back (still tempted to get a Palm Pre). On the other hand phones 4u won’t be seeing my money again, and Ikea can keep their meatballs!

Do you have any tips or success stories?


I’d rather have good customer service than meatballs

There’s a new shop in Southampton. One which I definitely won’t be buying anything from. I will probably be in the minority here but Ikea is top of my list of companies never to give money to again, even above British Gas and phones 4u!

Close by is John Lewis, which is a shop that’s top of my list of places I will spend money, and entertainingly Ikea are trying to lure away John Lewis customers with a big sign for meat balls (there’s a photo on Flickr).

I had the opportunity to test my theory that John Lewis had superb customer service earlier this week, and by some amazing coincidence it was for a very similar reason to the problem Ikea completely failed to resolve. In both cases I bought something that had slightly too much metal- the item from Ikea was missing a hole in a metal bracket, and the furniture from John Lewis had a bolt that wasn’t machined properly. Pretty easy to fix in both cases you’d think…


Long story, very short. Several phone calls, an insanely long queue at the customer service desk (being hidden behind the store, with a number ticket queueing system should be a clue to how well that was going to go) and several letters, resulting in me being out of pocket and not having the item I wanted. As far as I can see, Ikea have zero respect for customers from the moment you try and get in the store. Fail.

John Lewis

Phone up once. Phoned back with arrangements for exchanging product. Now I’ll admit, there was a worrying moment when it looked like they weren’t expecting me, but I soon found the right person, who was the same person I’d spoken to on the phone! How often does that happen these days?! Result.

So you can keep your meatballs Ikea… well, almost all of them. I will be over at some point to use the free meal vouchers you sent. It’s a shame they came with a stock letter that had absolutely nothing to do with my complaint.

For anyone who still wants to risk it, don’t forget to check the Ikea-cam before you go. I’ll be waving from John Lewis, eating a very nice ham and cheese omelette.