How to complain about a company

If you want to complain about a company but aren’t sure how to go about it, we've put together our top tips on complaining and how to handle a complaint. These principles are the same for any type of complaint. Complaints can be a test of your strength and tenacity!

Top tips on complaining

1. Keep a written record

Record all information you send or receive and all phone calls you make, including details of who you spoke to and when – the Resolver process will help you with this. If you cannot resolve your issue, you are going to need documented evidence to take the next step. When first making a complaint, it's often tempting to hope that the issue will be resolved quickly and simply – in the occasional event that this isn't the case, however, it's best to keep records to back up your case.

2. Keep calm and carry on!

Popular words, but wise ones, too. We can become frustrated and angry when dealing with companies, either because they don't understand or listen to your issue, or by the way they handle your complaint. It can be like banging your head against a brick wall. So, always stay calm, as your anger can be used against you, and in the worst case it may mean not dealing with your complaint. Be sure to keep your language polite and stay focused on what you want to achieve.

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3. Know what you want

Why are you making a complaint? Perhaps you want the a refund, or just an apology.  Either way, before making your complaint establish what you want to get the issue resolved, and then let the company know. Be fair and be reasonable – if you're only missing a screw, don't ask for a new wardrobe. If you want compensation, but only say you're looking for the problem to be put right, the company will only deliver what you have requested (i.e. they will rectify the situation, but will not provide compensation).

4. Know what you should expect

Know what to expect and what your rights are. Companies will often want to pay out no more than absolutely necessary and will give you a low starting number for compensation. This is a common practice within the insurance industry. So you need to know your rights, what to expect or what you should be entitled to when you make a complaint. Have your evidence ready and present it when stating what you want. This should help you get a quick solution to your problem!

5. Be clear and concise

The worst thing you can do is to give excessive detail. You may be outlining all your points and issues, helping prove the validity of your claim, but don't go too far! A 10-page document means whoever is reviewing it will probably lose your point and potentially all interest. If they miss the point, your communication has been ineffective. Keep it focussed and concise, but retain all the points you want to get across.

6. Be reasonable

It is important to be reasonable with what you ask the company to do to resolve the issue. This helps get your issue sorted, and avoids prolonging the complaints process. Businesses are generally focused on resolving, so have the same approach and if possible find some common ground.

7. Know when to escalate your complaint

Be fair to the company – complaining shouldn't be a war of attrition! Rather than writing directly to the managing director straight away, try to resolve the complaint with the company through their conventional complaints procedures. If you cannot resolve the issue and need to escalate it, this demonstrates you have been reasonable and fair. If you have been too gung-ho in your approach, this can be held against you.

8. Remember they need you

Remember they need you more than you need them! It's more expensive to find new customers than it is to keep existing ones. If you have been with a company for a long time, then they have made good money from you. If they are sensible, they know that it's worth keeping you as a customer. This means they should work to ensure that you are happy at the end of the complaints process.  

9. Don’t give up

If you're not getting what you want, sometimes the pressures of life can mean we forget about the issue and let it go, simply because we don’t have time to deal with it. Further down the road, you will be annoyed with yourself for not having pursued the issue. Don’t give up –set yourself reminders and use Resolver to pursue your complaint!

10. Have a sense of humour

Have some fun. Remember that the person dealing with your complaint is human, too – and they probably have to deal with lots of issues a day. This must get frustrating and tiring for them, so why not change your approach and inject some humour into your complaint? A great example is the complaint sent to Virgin Atlantic that was written as a poem. The complaint expressed the issue in a fun and innovative way – and actually received coverage in the press!

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