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Page 3: Complaining.

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The fine art of complaining is something that us British aren't very good at. We would rather moan to our co-workers about poor service than complain directly and we are certainly not attracted to the unpleasant task of drawing attention to ourselves by complaining. At Money Surgery we don't suggest that you seek compensation for every trip you ever had or every luke warm burger you've eaten but if you can stand back from a situation and think "I was genuinely unfairly treated, I deserve reasonable compensation", then you have every right to pursue a complaint.

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We recommend that if you bought prepackaged food that was unsatisfactory then you ought to consider complaining. We at the Surgery have experienced cases of un-crisp potato crisps and frozen peas that contained an "alien" object. The purchaser wrote to the address supplied on the packaging and got small but reasonable compensation. These situations were genuine. They incensed the purchaser and they deserved the small amount of compensation that they received. However, we should bear in mind that it is the banking industry that attracts the most complaints.

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The nice people at the Financial Services Authority (FSA) say that "people are often reluctant to complain and that we need to complain more effectively. Don't give up at the first attempt and remember that firms need feedback from customers". Apparently, of the people who make a complaint, less than half are happy with the outcome. Of those that are unhappy, 90 percent give up and don't take it any further. At Money Surgery we have used techniques that turn the tables in your favour if you have a genuine complaint.
Remember also that the financial services sector has "Ombudsmen" whose job it is to act on your behalf should the complaint not be resolved to your satisfaction. These people and others can be contacted on our Contacts page.

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This is how you get what YOU want:

  • Write "COMPLAINT" at the top of the letter.
  • Find out the name of the person to whom you are writing.
  • Send a typed letter or one that is carefully hand written.
  • Remember to include any policy or account reference numbers.
  • Set out the facts clearly and in order and avoid repetition or excess detail.
  • Always be polite but firm.
  • Send copies of relevant documents NEVER originals.
  • Keep copies of any letters you send. If you discuss a complaint on the telephone, keep a note of the date, the name of the person you spoke to and the main points discussed. Ask for confirmation of the discussion in writing.
  • Finally, decide whether you were satisfied with the firm's decision or whether you want to take your case to the relevant ombudsman or arbitration scheme.

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At Money Surgery, we advocate shops as the best way to buy goods. The art of complaining was meant to be played out on the retail outlet stage not down a telephone or through frustrated e-mails. Many people who have tried taking goods back to stores find the process quick and satisfying, whether due to faulty or unwanted items. Also, the goods can be examined or tried on before purchasing. All internet retailers rely on postal delivery in the same way as mail-order companies. Sometimes what you get isn't what you asked for or were expecting and the return postage can cost 20% of the items value.
When returning unwanted goods to a shop, we recommend the following:

  • Always adopt a smiling friendly attitude with the shopkeeper.
  • Always dress smartly and cleanly.
  • Try to keep receipts for occasions like these.
  • Have a realistic goal in mind and don't accept a compromise offer, initially anyway. Better to go away and think about it.
  • Don't be fobbed off with referrals to the manufacturer of the item. Your contract was with the retailer.
  • Turn up when the shop is busiest. Saturday lunchtime is nice.
  • If the goods were genuinely faulty, don't accept anything less than a FULL refund.

Please refer to our Contacts page for excellent consumer advice and people to talk to if your retailer is being stubborn.

Please read our other pages.

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Please read on.
Saving Money: Switched on ways to keep hold of your precious cash.
Getting Money: Clever, barely legal ways of getting money.
How a house, open a bank account...
Future Dreams: Planning, after your debts have been eliminated.
Financial X-Ray: Let the nice doctors at Money Surgery X-ray your wallet.
Money News: The latest from the world of personal finance.
The best interest rates for saving and borrowing.
Feedback: Write to the Surgery.
Contacts: Other people who may be able to help, if we can't.
Money Surgery.