Ensuring your complaint gets you somewhere (or something!)
I’m not really one to complain. Well, to companies anyway. I’ve recently submitted a complaint after an online clothing company after they failed to process my order and the item went out of stock in the meantime. I addressed the issue with the company’s online ‘ticket’ system but only received an abundance of “sorry for the inconvenience“. The company do not disclose any contact details on their website, so I had to ask for an email address to send a written complaint to. Their ’24-hour response’ policy failed to work and I had to contact them again with the same request. Luckily I did receive a response and sent over my email complaint.
I also recently complained about a chocolate bar which didn’t contain the filling advertised on the packet and received a £2 contribution to my next purchase, which is better than nothing. As a child, I hand-wrote a letter to Cadbury regarding a chocolate button yogurt which contained no chocolate buttons (there’s a chocolate complaints thing going on here). Looking at the correct way to format a complaint may explain why I bagged myself a £20 voucher, or perhaps was that down to the fact my complaint letter was ‘cute’? It went something like:
My mum bought me a Cadbury’s chocolate button yogurt but when I opened it there were no chocolate buttons! This made me sad because I really like chocolate buttons. Please can I have a yogurt with buttons in?
So why do we complain? We either want an apology or to obtain something. When writing a complaint it’s important to remain polite and informative. Gather together any ‘evidence’ you have. When complaining about the chocolate bar with the incorrect filling, I didn’t have any physical evidence – I ate it. The fact I received just £2 for it was probably due to lack of physical evidence. If you’re pasta has a dead frog in it, keep it to back you up, otherwise be sure to have all of your order numbers, receipts and any other documentation confirming your purchase. If the product/service you’re complaining about made you ill, you’ll need a doctor’s note to back you up.
Once you have collected your evidence, you can begin to write your complaint. Clearly state when and where and when your product/service was obtained. If the issue caused you discomfort or upset, mention it.
Say what you want done about the issue, whether it’s better staff training so the issue doesn’t arise again or compensation for your discomfort. If you don’t, you’ll probably find the reply you receive (if you receive one) will read “Sorry. Kind regards.”
This is optional, but you can put a ‘threat’ in there. Nothing violent, just a comment saying that the issue means you’ll be looking to alternative companies in the future for the same product/service. If you are looking to obtain something from the company, sweeten things up with a compliment about how you usually enjoy the products/services.
To increase your chances of hearing back from the company, end your complaint with “I look forward to hearing from you/your response.”
After following this complaint structure, I sent the following complaint to the company who didn’t process my t-shirt order:
Dear (direct contact name),
I placed an order with (company) on February 20th (#108762) for a Dip Dye t-shirt. The item was showing as ‘in stock’ in my size and I was eager to place my order.
On February 26th, I reviewed my order to find it was still ‘processing’ however another order I had placed over the weekend (#109823) was ‘complete’. I contacted (company) about the issue and spoke to Dave*, who said that it was an error on their behalf and I was receive my order in 1-2 days. Yesterday (February 28th) I received a refund email, but as it contained no explanation as to why my money had been refunded, I once again contacted (company) and spoke to Dave. His response was “this is due to the item being out of stock”. Dave told me that the item had gone out of stock a few weeks prior to my order but was still showing as in stock on the website. Something similar happened when I placed an order with (another company) who took and refunded payment for a sale item within a few hours as the item had gone out of stock.
Because this item is out of stock and was part of a limited edition range, I am now unable to get it which has left me upset. It would be beneficial to me and other (company) shoppers in the future if your stock and website were updated more frequently to avoid this happening again.
I have been a (company) shopper since seeing a poster for the website last year. I have checked the website at least once a fortnight and had always looked to (company) for my fashion inspiration. Because I currently cannot guarantee what items are in stock, I will be choosing not to shop with you in the future.
I look forward to hearing from you.
It wasn’t long before I received a response and was given a £10 gift voucher towards my next purchase. Although I am still unable to obtain my t-shirt, I’m happy with that. I’d rather have £10 off my next order than nothing at all.
*Dave is not Dave’s real name