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Thursday, 25 September 2003

Complaining works [lurks]

My breadmaker blew up. I knew you'd be thrilled. It blew up because the bit at the bottom of the bread bin wot holds the paddle shaft, seized up. It seized up because I placed the bread bin on a gas hob for a few seconds to dry it after washing, and then promptly went back to my PC and forgot about it. The rubber seal crumbled and the bearings seized half way through making the next loaf.
Like I said, I knew you'd be thrilled. Anyhow this was a top-of-the-line Panasonic breadmaker. I ring them up and, given I'm skint and devious (deviousness can be plotted as a square to the degree of skintitude, I find) I basically make out that the unit has failed of it's own accord. It's only 3 months old. They have no sympathy whatsoever so I go to fallback plan and try to order the part that's shagged. They stuff me around a bit, say it's out of stock and put me onto a third party parts company. I phone them, order it from them. £30, three weeks later and it still hasn't turned up.
So... for the sake of a 20p stamp and some spare time, I click on blue 'W' icon and type a letter of complaint to Panasonic. Now to my mind, there's two forms of letters of complaint. Normally, I favor the first kind. The kind where you do not expect said useless fucks to deliver and you would just like to take time to clue them in on their diminished position in the world, compared to say a 'leprous scab on the anus of the British Banking industry'. Closing with an request to kill the order, close the account or whatever.
Such a letter, while extracting some small measure of pleasure from a poor situation, is unlikely to persuade a company to do nice things. When that is the goal, we need the second type of complaint letter. Now this sort of thing doesn't come naturally to me but it's an interesting excersize in writing skill and downright two-faced cunning.
In this type of letter, one simultaneously complains but also is complimentary about the company or it's goods. One is aiming for a sort of concerned-uncle tone, 'I'm sure this is just an unfortunate oversight' sort of thing. You are a nice, reasonable man. Not, in the case of the first type of complaint letter, a raging psychotic arsehole. Or at least, that's the goal.
So anyway, I've got me a lovely ham, cheese and Branston pickle sandwich made with my own special 6-seed bread. It's lovely and this is because the part for my Panasonic breadmaker arrived in the post, free of charge from Panasonic just a few working days after they got my letter. I penned this blog while I rang up the parts company and cancelled the £30 order. So far, this is the fourth letter of this type that I have written and every single time I've had a positive result.
See these companies have customer service people whose job it is to put things right like this. It gives them a warm fuzzing feeling inside. But of course if you're a horrible customer, they'll probably dig their heals in. Or it's evident that this is the approach they're going to take from the outset. In which case, you can merrily fall back to complaint type 1.

1 comment:

  1. Damn straight. I'd been waiting for three pairs of swimming goggles from for 20 days. I'd chased four times & finally snapped today when they couldn't even find my order. I canceled the order by email & fax,then let the manufacturer of the goggles know how unhappy I was. I'd used sweatband becaused they were linked from the manufacturer's site (
    Result: email from the manufacturer within 2 hours offering the goggles FOC.