Changing topics completely - or not. It may be that my back pain is causing a slight shortness of temper but it has served me well in the past few days when it looked like I was getting ripped off.
What is it with businesses these days that their first response to a complaint is to ignore or you deny responsibility? Ah yes. They're hoping you'll go away quietly. But I have found that, even without making yourself the "world's biggest harpie", a little persistence can achieve results.
Incident 1 occurred last year when a family member was scammed out of a considerable amount of money and the bank (Barclays - there, I said it) did nothing to help, suggesting the matter be taken to the police. Given that they knew about the scam, did nothing to prevent it with their customers and failed to notice it was being perpetrated on my family member, everyone was livid. I then dusted off my law degree, did a lot of research and found that they have several duties of care to their customers, all of which they had breached. Two very legal sounding letters later and a threat to take it to the press and the Financial Ombudsman, and all of the money was quietly put back into the account! We have yet to read about anyone else getting the same result but I would be happy to share my secret wording formula.
Lesson - Do your homework (or go to Citizen's Advice in the UK), and don't give up. Know where to take your complaint next and threaten to do so.
Incident 2 - We rented the Little Guy boots and skis from a Chicago store before heading off to Colorado to ski at Xmas. In the 3 weeks between renting and skiing, LG's feet had grown half a size and the boots were agony. Had to rent another pair in Colorado, and The Ball & Chain accidentally left the Chicago boots in the Colorado store. When we realised and went back, they were nowhere to be seen. Knowing how they operate up in the mountains (as if they're all high - oh wait, they probably are), it became fairly obvious to all that they'd been shoved on a shelf and probably rented out. Manager put a note on the staff board and assured us they would find them.
Scroll forward to two weeks ago when I rang the store and no one knew what I was talking about. Sigh. Spoke to another "manager" who immediately denied that this could have happened "unless they were exactly the same brand as the one we rent out". Actually, they are. Unbelievably he still refused to help. Now we're in a position of having to buy new ski boots, which I'm simply not having. Quick mooch around the company web site, e-mail to customer service asking for their "help in this matter" and a suggestion that if the boots aren't found, we get this week's rental for free as we're out of pocket. Result - Reply e-mail telling us we'd get the ski rental free. (When husband went in to redeem, apparently the manager was not very happy. But guess what? We're not very happy so I don't really give a hoot.)
Lesson - Be polite but firm, and tell them how you want the matter resolved. If you just complain and leave it open-ended, they'll give you the least help or amount they can.
Incident 3 - my builder. Very long story short but I've just had a shower replaced in my master bathroom. Quite a big job really and one that's been discussed with said builder since August! Eventually got a half way decent estimate with breakdown of costs (because he kept referring to a shower unit that was more expensive than my car) and we started work. Well, the work took about a third of the time he estimated, and yet I was still billed for 30 hours. I politely pointed this out and asked him to submit another invoice. The invoice came back with a completely different hourly rate and "materials" charged which weren't used and hadn't been mentioned before. Sigh. Did a quick calculation of work performed times hourly rate agreed to, added that to cost of materials and replied with a long explanation of what I was paying and why. Also said I was sending a check "Paid in Full". I have not heard back from him and do not intend to argue the matter further.
Lesson - Be fair, explain why and don't argue.
And lastly - It doesn't matter if they don't like you. Yes, always start by being polite (you catch more flies with honey than vinegar) but don't worry about appearing demanding if you don't get results. Remember, you're very unhappy about something and they don't seem to mind.