Tag Archives | effective complaining

Write way to put it right

Irish News of the World
February 1st, 2009
Diarmuid MacShane

The world’s best passenger complaint letter?

Did you see the letter on the internet this week where a Virgin Airlines passenger wrote to Richard Branson complaining about the food quality and television service on a flight from Mumbai to Heathrow last December? It’s being described as the “worlds funniest passenger complaint letter”.

But it’s not the most effective – in fact, as a customer complaint letter, it’s completely useless.

The letter might be funny, but it isn’t very polite – one of the key requirements for an effective complaint. To complain properly, you should also be very clear and concise – but this letter is long and rambling.

When complaining, it is also important that you complain to the right person and explain clearly what you want the company to do in order to make everything better again.

While this passenger wrote directly to the airline boss himself, he didn’t explain to Mr. Branson what he should do in order to fix the problems experienced by the customer.

And in the end, according to newspaper reports, Virgin did nothing except say that they were sorry that the passenger wasn’t happy – there were no refunds, no complementary tickets and not even a free pen at the end of it all!

Click here to check out the ValueIreland.com Top Tips on How to Complain Effectively.


Carlsberg don’t do Bus Routes, Dublin Bus do

A couple of months ago, I got bored with the walk from my house to the bus stop for my 19 or 19a bus route into town for work, and was similarly bored and frustrated with having to fight through the morning commuter crowds from Dame Street, up Grafton Street and across to my office on Molesworth Street.

Being someone who advocates for others to make their complaints known to a service provider in a clear and concise manner, I wrote a letter to Dublin bus. I explained the following:

  • The 10 minute walk from my house to the bus stop was just too long in the morning. Either move the bus stop closer to my house, or make it stop raining in the mornings so I wouldn’t keep getting wet.
  • The 19 and 19a bus routes take somewhat indirect routes into town, and for a certain amount of the journey, they don’t even go on roads that have bus corridors. Either get the council to put in bus corridors on Botanic Road, or change the bus route.
  • And finally, could they do something about the hoards of people getting in the way in the mornings for my walk from Dame Street to my office. They were slowing me down and making me late(r) for work. Either that, or could the bus drop me off closer to my office and save me the walk completely.
Dublin Bus, fair play to them, wrote back to me immediately and apologised for the ongoing inconvenience I was experiencing. Based on the fact that I’d taken the time to explain the situation to them so clearly and politely, they offered to do the following for me to try to improve things:
  • They would have a bus pick me up from right outside my estate – due to the narrow roads in the estate, this was the best they could do.
  • Instead of the bus battling with Botanic Road, they said that the bus would drive me directly down the Finglas Road where there’s a bus corridor all the way from Finglas to the city centre.
  • And finally, the bus would drop me outside the back door of my office.
  • Then, in the evening, the bus would then pick me up at the front door of my office, and leave me back to the front gate of my estate.
Hence the new 140 bus route was born! What a fantastic service! I couldn’t have asked for more. Who says there’s no point in complaining to Irish companies, that they never really take complaints seriously or respond or follow up on them?

(Clarification: I never sent this letter, Dublin Bus didn’t respond, but I did get the best bus route in the world).


Why do some sites have a “Contact Us” section?

In the past week or so, I’ve had reason to use the “Contact Us” section on a couple of website. One was because of a query on a product offered, while the second was a less than complimentary piece of feedback on the service provided.

In both instances, there have been no responses – not even an acknowledgment of my mails. Unbelievable in this day and age really.

In the first instance, my mail is basically the same as me jumping up and down in a shop going “take my money – I want to buy something – have my money, here – go on, take it”. In the second instance, it was some positive feedback on why I didn’t give a company my money (a substantial amount as it may have turned out), and how they might have done if only they’d been a little more polite and helpful.

Why ask customers, or potential customers, to contact you if you’re not going to bother responding at all?


Responding to Customer Complaints and Suggestions

The Serial Complainer has commended the Fingal Council for their prompt response (presumably) to an e-mail suggestion he sent them.

A headline I saw recently on Breakingnews.ie reminded me of a similar e-mail suggestion I made about 2 years ago to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown council, the NRA and the Department of Transport about the queues on the Leopardstown exit of the M50.

Because of the set up of the roundabout, anyone coming down the hill and crossing the M50 from Stepaside direction had priority at this roundabout over all of the traffic coming off the M50. This caused enormous queues down the long slip road, and sometimes back up the M50 – on both the inside lane and the hard shoulder – causing a serious traffic hazard. You’d pass Dundrum exit, be shown the 120kmph sign and almost immediately around the corner, you’d face stationary traffic.

A simple solution was to put lights on the entrance to the roundabout from the Stepaside direction to regulate flow from that direction, and to give priority to the M50 traffic. Instead, as a consequence, many drivers noted that it was much quicker to pass the Leopardstown exit, go to the Carrickmines exit, and travel back via Ballyogan and down to the roundabout from Stepaside direction to get the priority – causing the traffic to back up even further back onto the Motorway.

My e-mail, once it was responded to was bounced from pillar to post. The NRA said it was the responsibility of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown. The Department of Transport, though, said it was the responsibility of the NRA. And Dun Laoghaire Rathdown said they couldn’t do anything until a traffic survey was done. In fairness, you only had to stand on the bridge any morning about 9am to see the problems.

But now, two years later, something apparently has been done about the problem. And instead of making things better, it seems like things are going to be worse, given the warning in the link above.

I refer again to how we (the regular people of Ireland) would be treated in our own jobs if it took us two years to follow up on an issue or complaint from a customer and then ballsed up the resolution of such issue – we wouldn’t be in our jobs long. Yet between Dun Laoghaire Rathdown council, the NRA and the Department of Transport, they can’t put in a simple fix to an easily identified problem for 2 years, and then they still get it wrong. How can such incompetence deserve their respective 12-16% pay rises?


New campaign: Complain More!!!

There’s a new campaign just been launched today by the safefood organisation, The Food Safety Promotion Board. They’re completely different from the The Food Safety Authority of Ireland. Now, don’t ask me why we need two organisations to work in what seems to me to be the same area.

Back to the campaign – as per the press release on the safefood online website, the campaign is:

a new public awareness campaign designed to educate consumers about their rights with regard to food hygiene standards outside the home, and empower them to speak out if they are not satisfied.

The press release goes on to say:

Our research revealed that 53% of people feel reluctant to speak out if they are unhappy with food hygiene standards.

Hopefully consumers will take note, and not just to complain about poor food hygiene. Consumers should complain about poor service and quality as well as poor hygiene.

For some tips and advice on the best way to complain in such situations, check out the Value Ireland Tips on How to Complain.


Effective complaints my arse! How about effective complaints handling?

IFSRA today published via their website an article on “Making an effective complaint – What you need to know”. But then, at the end of the article they say, bewilderingly given the tone of the heading and article, “However, we do not investigate individual complaints”.

How about that for mixed messages? This statement is on the consumer website of the Financial Regulator – so, we have a regulator telling us how to complain, but then telling us not to complain to them.

Maybe they should be adding this to their own Waffle Corner.

But back to my original point, if you read their directions on complaining, you see that financial institutions have 20 business days (1 month effectively) to just respond to a complaint from a customer. And they have a a total of 40 business days (effectively 2 months) in which to address your complaint, or to tell you how much longer it’s going to take. So, you make a complaint now, you could conceivably be waiting 2 months before the financial institution gets back to you to say it’s going to take another 2 months to address your complaint. Ridiculous!

Now, think of your own day to day job. If someone comes to you as part of your job with a query or an issue, do you reckon you could get away with taking 3 months to even tell that person that you’ll need 3 more months to respond to them?

Tell me again what regulators actually do to help consumers?


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