Complaining With Class

 In Blog, Outer First Class

Sometimes people are afraid to complain when they ought to. Others complain when they shouldn’t. The trick is knowing when. If you are not receiving what you have paid for and there are no mitigating circumstances, it’s time to complain.

When I got pregnant in 2013 I decided it was past time to do something I had always wanted to do: hire someone to clean my house. I got rid of my excuses and found a local company with a good reputation. After the team had been coming for a few months I started to notice they weren’t taking the care that they used to. Things were being skimmed over or skipped all together. (Having done professional cleaning myself, I can tell when people are not doing the job that they should.) Instead of bringing it to the attention of the owner right away out of a desire to not get the team in trouble, I kept quiet about it.

Then we noticed damage on some furniture. A vacuum had been pushed into the wooden bedframe and splintered it.

It was the final straw. My husband was ready to fire them on the spot. By the time I got ahold of the owner, the list of things they’d been doing wrong, not doing and now damaging was long. The owner promptly came and surveyed the damage which she agreed was clearly caused by carelessness with the vacuum cleaner. Then she told me she wished I had complained sooner.

You don’t hear that every day. But she had a very valid point. She cannot fix what she doesn’t know about. Perhaps if I’d been more adamant about getting what I was paying for the damage to the bed frame may never have happened.

We got a new cleaning team, the owner hired a furniture repair person to fix the bed who did an exceptional job, and from then on I would email her any time we saw something we didn’t like. She kept our account and we got better service without the hassle of attempting to find a new company. Overall it was an excellent lesson in knowing when to complain.

Another important factor when it comes to complaining is how you do it. The old adage that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar is especially true when confronting someone with undesirable behavior or poor quality. Also bear in mind that often times the person you are complaining to is not the one responsible for the problem. They can, however, have the power to make it right. By approaching your complaint with a positive attitude, not only can you pave the way for a more favorable outcome, it actually improves the whole experience.

When my son was a newborn I got a large, expensive swing (about $150). After a few months of only very light use, the music making portion of the swing died. Later, the automated swing itself started to malfunction. I was working, caring for an infant, sleep deprived, lactating and irritated at this high end swing’s poor quality. It was a bad combination for the customer service rep who would take my call.

However, I decided to change my mind before I picked up the phone. Yes, it was bothersome to have to complain about this when I had so many other demands on my time. I was disappointed that I did not get what I paid for. But no one was hurt and my son was not in love with the swing anyway. So gave myself an attitude correction before I called, taking into consideration that the person I would speak to was just another soul like me, trying to get through the day.

I explained the problems to the rep and she was sympathetic. I found out they were local to me and felt like she was my neighbor. We chatted a bit while she was processing my information. I ended up getting sent a whole brand new swing and they didn’t even make me return the broken one. All I had to do was send in my original invoice and a photo of the old swing.

My blood pressure never went up. Her blood pressure never went up. I got what I wanted and she had one less angry phone call to take that day. It was win-win.

There is a time and place for an angry complaint. When you are being ignored, abused or mistreated it can be time to ditch the honey and go for the vinegar. But for day to day resolutions, taking it easy and expressing yourself politely not only will get the job done, it makes the interaction better for everyone.


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