Dear Customer Services

It is an unequivocal truth that people love to complain, an observation I've acknowledged time and time again. From unsavoury food to untimely parcel delivery, or even a ludicrously long queue at the bank, I’m sure even the most patient of us has, at some stage, succumbed to grumbling. I for one am not averse to making a complaint. Take for instance my mobile network provider, 02; I have their 202 number on speed dial. If anyone looked at my monthly phone bill they’d think 202 was my boyfriend’s number, the amount of times I end up calling them with some problem or another.

But for some people nothing’s ever good enough. Some people complain for the fun of it (although how complaining constitutes as fun I do not know), some complain because they’re offloading their anger toward someone else, some because they feel it’s entirely (and rightly) justifiable, and most, like me, complain to see how much they can get out of it. Think along the lines of Mahatma Ghandi: “if you don’t ask, you don’t get,” and conveniently adjust it to: “if you don’t complain, you don’t get the freebies.” And freebies are what I want.

One time immediately after coming home from my weekly food shop, I zealously peeled the lid off a tub of Ben and Jerry’s ‘Phish Food’ and began stuffing my face.

Everything tasted right: the texture, the flavour, the consistency…that is until I was a quarter way through the tub with no sign of a chocolate ‘phish’. I carried on eating, suitably convincing myself that it was OK to devour a whole tub of frozen yoghurt just to see if there were any phish inside. Reaching the bottom, I came across two measly phish drowning in the melted sugary remains and I was utterly disheartened.  Lord knows it must have been ‘that time of the month’ because I expressed an unhealthy amount of anger over such a trite matter. I began writing a venomous letter of complaint accordingly. I recall it went something like this:

Dear Ben and Jerry,

Being a fond lover and frequent buyer of your products, I feel compelled to write to you on this matter.

I recently purchased a tub of your frozen yoghurt with the assumption that it would be a healthier alternative to your ice cream, as I am trying to cut down on my fatty foods and sugary snacks. It was for this reason that I eagerly anticipated the chocolate phish as a naughty treat. But the amount of chocolate phish inside your ‘tub of love’ was fiendish. There were more fish displayed on the outer packaging than in the tub and I find this thoroughly misleading. It left me with more sugary cravings than I anticipated and forced me to break my diet to fill the void. Consequently, I feel fat, hapless and cheated.

This occurrence has placed serious doubt and chronic concern about the value of your products which I don’t think I will be purchasing in the near future, that is unless you offer me some form of reimbursement.

Yours Sincerely,

Stephanie Shepherd  

To cut a long story short. I swiftly received an apologetic letter in response to my complaint, along with a booklet of free Ben and Jerry’s vouchers. They even wished me well with my (fabricated) diet would you believe! And so it was a success; I got my freebies.

In this instance my complaint was by letter, but more often than not this is not the case. Online forms and telephone calls are a quicker, more efficient way of alleviating ones grievances; grievances which every individual feels are a matter of utmost importance. Telephone calls usually result in a barrage of abuse being directed at the poor unfortunate soul on the end of the line who, let’s be honest, probably doesn’t really give a shit about your bad network coverage, your late parcel, or your dodgy can of baked beans. Have you ever noticed the angrier you get the calmer they respond? Their carefully conducted, professional response comes across apathetic which in turn winds you up even more. It’s an exasperating cycle which results one of two things: you slamming down the phone after realizing your protestations are getting you nowhere, or you receiving an apology along with an adequate explanation (and possibly some freebies.)  I know which result I’d prefer and it's often for this reason that the temptation to complain can be irresistable. Go and try your luck!