Opinion: time to stop accepting poor service and complain more

Having recently saved £40 after complaining about poor service at a restaurant, it got me wondering why we're still so afraid of kicking up a fuss.

I recently enjoyed a fun night out with some friends, starting with a nice dinner at a somewhat pricey burger chain.

As one of my friends has raved about the burgers in the past (and I’m a huge fan of any tasty meal), I was excited to finally try them.

But the experience didn’t quite live up to everyone’s expectations. The burgers weren't cooked in the right way – instead of medium rare, my friends ended up with overcooked ones.

As we were in a rush, we didn’t have time to get new burgers made. At £12 for a burger alone, we were frustrated that we didn’t get what we ordered, particularly after we were asked how we wanted the burgers to be cooked.

Throw in the fact that my friend's kale and avocado side was decidedly light on avocado and everyone was a bit unhappy.

Initially, we just asked for more avocado, but it turned out this came at a price as the waiter added a cheeky £2 on top of a £4.50 side for avocado that was barely there in the first place!

Having had enough, we decided to politely complain as most of the burgers weren’t cooked as requested and it was ridiculous to charge extra for a dish that skimped on a key ingredient.

Management listened to our feedback and cut our bill by around £40, leaving us with a much slimmer £60 bill between five people.

While the food was not up to par, I may return as the restaurant listened to the complaints and acted on it, instead of ignoring it.

If you're interested in getting cashback when you order food, you can join Quidco. 

Server listening to customer. Image: Shutterstock.

‘Long term frustration’

My recent experience has taught me that it’s not bad to complain if you have a legitimate complaint, yet not all Brits share this view.

According to Ombudsman Services’ Consumer Action Monitor, customers experienced 173 million issues with products and services in 2017, yet only 27% of these were raised with the provider.

“More than two-thirds of consumers say they are resigned to poor service in at least one sector,” says chief ombudsman Lewis Shand Smith.

This is simply unacceptable.

If you pay for a service or product, it should be good quality and you should not settle for poor service. 

While we're making progress in some areas – the number of us switching providers for a better service keeps rising – many of us are more hesitant when it comes to complaining in person.

Britain's 4 most hated services: how to complain and win

Why complaining can be a good thing

When I was a student, I worked directly with people, whether it was serving them food and drinks, or ushering them into a cinema screen. During that time I heard a fair few complaints.

From my personal experience, the best approach with complaints is to be polite and clear about what has gone wrong.

You may receive vouchers, money off a bill or even a refund although nothing is guaranteed.

If you're tempted to complain about bad service, you should always keep track of all information you send or receive, and make sure you know what you want.

You can check out more top tips at issue resolution service Resolver. 

By complaining, you can have a positive impact by flagging an issue the company may not be aware of, helping them to potentially raise standards, which may benefit all customers – not just you.

For example, if a restaurant is constantly getting complaints about slow food service that could impact the food quality and deter customers from returning, they can work on improving this.

The response to a legitimate complaint also reveals the cream of the crop – those who genuinely care about delivering great service and those who are focused more on making a quick buck.

What's your opinion? Do you complain if you get bad service? If you don't, why? 

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*This article contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission on any sales of products or services we write about. This article was written completely independently.


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