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How To Complain Effectively And Get Results

04 October 2023

We don’t live in a perfect world and sometimes things can go wrong and leave us wondering what to do next. Whilst some of us look to move on and accept the situation, others embrace our right to complain to come to a more favourable outcome. When it comes to financial matters, there can be plenty of reasons to want to raise an issue, whether you’ve been unfairly charged, you’ve paid over the odds for something, or haven’t received the service or product you were expecting for your money.

Complaining may come easy for some of us, but what if you’re not sure how to complain about a UK company when you really should? There is of course a right and wrong way to complain, so where do you start, what are the most effective ways to do so, and most importantly, will it give you the result you are looking for or better?

Below you will find some helpful guidance so that when you feel the urge to make your voice heard, you can do so in the most effective way possible. Who knows, you may get a better result and even, dare we say it, enjoy the cathartic act of complaining (just don’t get carried away).

How To Get What You Want by Complaining – Why It’s Important

Some situations warrant a complaint, and while it may feel uncomfortable having to do so, it’s an important part of holding companies accountable. According to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), there were 1.79 million complaints received by financial services in the second half of 2022, with the home finance product group (mortgages) seeing the biggest increase in complaints by 14% from H1 2022 to H2 2022.

Complaining may not be everyone’s favourite thing to do, but when it comes to our financial wellness, many people choose to do so. It can be easy to overlook the fact that effective complaining can play a pivotal role in taking back control of your finances. It’s not just about venting frustration, but ensuring you’re being treated fairly as a customer.

Accountability Matters

Service providers, whether they are banks, utility companies, or retailers, have a responsibility to deliver the products and services they promise. When they fall short, it’s your right as a consumer to hold them accountable. By raising your concerns through complaints, you’re signalling that you expect the quality and value you’re entitled to.

Refunds, Compensation, and Better Services

If you’ve been charged incorrectly, received faulty goods, or experienced a service failure, complaining can lead to getting your money back or receiving compensation for your inconvenience. This directly contributes to your financial well-being by ensuring you’re not losing money due to someone else’s mistakes.

According to the UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI), 18% of customers feel their financial well-being is poor or very poor, with each of the 13 UKCSI sectors having lower customer satisfaction than in 2022. Complaints can drive service providers to enhance their offerings as companies value their reputation, and a string of negative feedback can prompt them to improve their services. As a result, not only do you benefit, but so do others who might use the same service in the future.

Giving Your Concerns a Voice

When it comes to your finances, silence can be costly. Complaining is your way of making your concerns heard, so if you’re being overcharged, facing hidden fees, or receiving subpar service, speaking up can prevent these issues from escalating and negatively impacting your financial stability.

 Preparing for Effective Complaints

Just before you dive into complaining, remember that effective complaints aren’t just about venting your feelings; they require a bit of preparation and a strategy. Here’s how you can set yourself up for success:

  1. Know Your Rights

Understanding your rights as a customer is important. Whether it’s the Consumer Rights Act 2015 or FCA guidelines, it’s a good idea to look into the rules that apply to your situation. This knowledge not only empowers you during the complaint process but also ensures you’re approaching the situation from an informed position.

  1. Documenting Your Complaints

Documentation is your best friend, so record transactions, conversations, dates, times, and names of the people you interact with. This can serve as valuable evidence if your complaint escalates or requires follow-up. Whether it’s a dispute over a credit card charge or a billing error, having a well-organised complaint record adds weight to your case.

  1. Gather Evidence

The strength of your complaint often lies in the evidence you provide. This might include photographs of faulty products, screenshots of misleading advertisements, or copies of correspondence with customer service. Make sure your evidence is clear, relevant, and supportive of your complaint. Remember, the more solid your evidence, the stronger your position.

  1. Prepare Your Case

Before you reach out to the service provider, outline your case. Summarise the issue, gather the evidence, and think about the outcome you’re looking for. Having a clear plan in mind ensures you convey your concerns effectively and avoid getting sidetracked during the conversation.

  1. Stay Calm and Collected

Emotions can understandably run high when dealing with financial matters, but keeping your emotions in check during the complaint process is crucial. Staying calm, collected, and professional enhances your credibility and increases the likelihood of a positive resolution.

Choosing the Right Communication Channel

Once you are prepared, you’ll need to decide how you will contact the service provider. There are various approaches to this and selecting the right communication channel can significantly impact the outcome of your complaint. Here are some options to consider:

  1. Give them a Call

Phone calls offer the advantage of direct and immediate communication if answered. If you are going to call, keep the following in mind:

  1. Send an Email

Email provides a written record of your complaint, making it an excellent choice for more complex issues. Here’s how to make the most of it:

  1. Message on Social Media

Social media platforms offer a public platform to share your experiences and engage with service providers. Here’s how to effectively use social media for your complaints:

  1. You Can Always Write a Letter

Though much less common these days, a well-crafted complaint letter can still have a significant impact. Follow these steps for an effective written complaint:

When to Escalate the Complaint

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your initial complaint might not bring the desired results. In this case, escalating the complaint can be a strategic move to further your pursuit of financial wellness. Here’s how you can effectively escalate your complaint:

When and Why to Escalate

Regulatory Bodies and Ombudsman Services

Staying Resilient and Positive

As you navigate the complaint process to regain control of your finances, it’s essential to stay resilient and maintain a positive mindset. The journey towards complaint resolution can sometimes be challenging, but with a positive attitude, you can overcome obstacles and achieve your financial wellness goals.

Patience is Key

Self-Care Matters

Celebrate Successful Resolutions

 Continue Your Focus On Financial Wellness

Mastering the art of how to complain and get results isn’t simple, but by understanding the significance of complaining, preparing thoroughly and choosing the right communication channels, you could ensure your financial well-being has a positive outcome.

Hopefully, you won’t need to complain, but if you find yourself in a position that warrants this, we hope the tips above can help bring a successful outcome. For more help and advice, please visit Money Helper. To discover further insights here at QuidMarket, please visit our blog for more information.

Useful Contacts:

National Trading Standards: https://www.nationaltradingstandards.uk/

FCA: https://www.fca.org.uk/

Financial Ombudsman: https://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/

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