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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
- Choose the Right Time – Calling during non-peak hours should help you avoid long wait times. Check customer service hours in advance as some companies may only be available 9-5 pm.
- Stay Calm and Assertive – Explain your issue clearly and assertively but avoid becoming confrontational or aggressive.
- Take Notes – Make note of the name of the person you’re speaking to, the date and time of the call, and a summary of the conversation. Most customer service teams will log the information from the call, but making notes yourself ensures you can follow up easily.
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:
- Clear Subject Line – Use a concise subject line that summarises the issue.
- Formal Tone – Keep your email professional and polite throughout.
- Include Key Details – Clearly state the problem, reference relevant transactions, and attach evidence if necessary.
- Ask for Confirmation – Request confirmation of receipt and outline your expectations for resolution.
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:
- Public Attention – Social media platforms like X, Facebook, and Instagram provide a public forum where your complaint can gain visibility.
- Tagging and Mentions – When addressing a company, use their official handles and hashtags to ensure they see your complaint.
- Brief and Concise – Due to character limits on some platforms, keep your complaint concise while conveying the main issue.
- Polite and Constructive – Maintain a polite and constructive tone, avoiding offensive language or personal attacks.
- Sharing Evidence – Share photos, screenshots, or videos that support your complaint’s validity. You may want to do so through a direct message if containing personal information.
- Monitor Engagement – Keep an eye on responses and engage professionally with both the company and other users.
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:
- Format – Use a formal letter format, including your address, the recipient’s address, and a salutation.
- Be Concise and Clear – State the issue concisely and provide all necessary details.
- Provide Evidence – If you’re sending copies of evidence, mention them in the letter and ensure they’re attached.
- Express Resolution Expectations – Politely state the outcome you’re seeking and a reasonable timeline for response.
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
- Unresolved Issues – If your initial contact with customer service doesn’t lead to a satisfactory resolution, it’s time to escalate.
- Repetitive Failures – If you’ve faced multiple instances of poor service or unresolved problems, escalation might be necessary.
- Stalling or Ignoring – If your complaint is being ignored or stalled, escalating can garner higher-level attention.
Regulatory Bodies and Ombudsman Services
- Their Role – Regulatory bodies and ombudsman services can mediate between you and the service provider to achieve a fair resolution.
- Know Your Options – Research relevant regulatory bodies or ombudsman services that oversee the industry your complaint is about, such as the Financial Ombudsman.
- Lodge a Complaint – If your issue remains unresolved, consider filing a complaint with the appropriate regulatory authority such as the FCA.
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
- Understand the Process – Recognise that resolving complaints can take time. Be patient as service providers investigate and address your concerns.
- Stay Persistent – Even if the process seems slow, your persistence demonstrates your commitment to achieving a fair outcome.
- Avoid Aggression – While it’s natural to feel frustrated, avoid becoming aggressive or disrespectful. A calm and composed approach is more effective.
- Stay Stress-Free – Engaging in complaint resolution can be stressful. Engage in activities that help you unwind and manage stress.
- Seek Support – Discuss your concerns with friends or family to share the emotional load and gain perspective.
- Focus on Overall Wellness – Remember that financial wellness is just one aspect of your overall well-being. Focus on self-care in all areas of your life.
Celebrate Successful Resolutions
- Acknowledge Achievements – When your complaint leads to a positive outcome, celebrate your success. You’ve taken proactive steps to improve your financial situation.
- Share Your Story – Sharing your success story can inspire others to take control of their finances and confidently voice their concerns.
- Build Confidence – Each successful resolution builds your confidence in navigating similar situations in the future.
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.
- Stay Informed – Keep educating yourself about your rights as a consumer and any changes in relevant regulations.
- Regular Financial Check-ins – Conduct regular assessments of your financial situation to ensure you’re on track towards your goals.
- Empower Others – Share your knowledge and experiences with others to help them take control of their financial well-being.
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.
National Trading Standards: https://www.nationaltradingstandards.uk/
Financial Ombudsman: https://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/