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Don’t let bad service leave you out of pocket. 

Obviously no one wants to complain. It’s far better that things go right rather than wrong and we get the service or products we expect. And most of the time that’s what happens.

But sometimes things don’t go right and it leaves me out of pocket. And me being me, that’s rarely something I accept.

I’ll make a judgement call based on how much it’s cost me and how much time it could take me to get it sorted. There’s no point taking hours to resolve something where my loss is just a few quid. But if it should be easy to resolve or if it’s a fair whack of cash then I will take it up with customer service.

As it happens there have been half a dozen times I’ve chosen to complain in just the last few weeks, and I’ve also helped out some readers and friends too. So I thought I’d quickly share some of those with you and how I went about getting each sorted.

Make a call – the American Express credit that didn’t appear

Sometimes it’s really easy and sorting things can just take a phone call.

Something I love about American Express is you can add some really good extra offers to your card. Though most of them aren’t ones for shops I’ll use, I’ll normally take advantage of a dozen or so over a year. 

A recent one was for somewhere we were going to shop, so we made the purchase online. But the £30 credit didn’t apply. So a quick call to Amex got it sorted in just a few minutes. I tend to make these calls when I’m walking somewhere so they don’t waste time.

Go online – the delayed train compensation

Northern Rail is an awful train company, and I’m often delayed or find trains cancelled. And the other week not only was my planned train cancelled, but so where the next four! So I got onto the delay repay form of the Northern Rail website and submitted my claim. Since it was more than an hour late I got the full amount refunded. Still I’d rather have been able to go on my journey on time! (A quick tip on train delays – keep your ticket!)

Use social – the exploding beer

The exploded beer can!

One of the products I’ll generally pay more for is craft beer. Yes I’ll try to pick them up on special offer or via other hacks and tricks, but it’s still pricier than getting a pack of Carling from the supermarket. 

Well I opened up my kitchen cupboard the other day to find one posh beer which cost a fiver (yep, for a beer), had exploded! There was vanilla chocolate stout all over the place.

For this I simply got on Twitter. Social media can be a good place to complain about stuff like this. I did have to chase, but I’m getting a replacement from North Brewing Co delivered this week.

Make it official – the missing Natwest bank switching reward

A bigger one now. You’ll know I’m a regular bank switcher. My wife Becky less so. But earlier this year she chose to move an account over to Natwest to take advantage of the then £150 bonus.

Because we have a joint account, and I’d already had a bonus for switching into this account I wasn’t sure if she’d be eligible. So I called up the bank’s switching team and was told it’s ok for her to do the same. Great.

Becky switched and was due the cash around Easter. It didn’t arrive so she chased. She was told that it’s likely just delayed because of the Bank Holidays. More waiting. Still no money. She called again and this time was told she wasn’t eligible because I’d had the bonus.

So I got on the phone myself to explain that’s exactly why I’d originally queried it. I had to put in an official complaint. This is often when you’re likely to get results and the next day I got a call back apologising and the £150 paid into our account. 

Since we’d spent a combined hour on the phone trying to sort it out I asked for a little extra compensation too. Yes it was only a tenner, but it’s always worth asking for this if you’ve been inconvenienced.

Keep at it – the Airline double booking

Sometimes the biggest loses take more time to get sorted. Last week I secured $100 credit from Delta Airlines. This one wasn’t as easy as just making a single call. First I went on webchat. I was told to call up. Then I was told to submit a complaint. Then I heard nothing, so chased it up. Until finally I got a call offering $50 compensation. I asked for double and got it! Win!

But I’ve got a better example of keeping going from the last few weeks. I’ve been helping out a reader with some guidance after she got charged twice for a pair of tickets to Mexico via Go To Gate – leaving her out of pocket by £885! 

Essentially the first transaction looked like it had failed, so she waited for a confirmation email and since there hadn’t been one in 15 minutes she booked again. However, both transactions did go through, but I assume down to dynamic pricing they were at slightly different prices.

Frustratingly she got no help from her credit card company – M&S Bank – who said it was a duplicate purchase as the prices weren’t the same, nor Mexican Airlines who said the fault was with the booking agency. And you’ve guessed it, Go To Gate didn’t want to take any responsibility either.

We exchanged a number of emails and I shared a few things to try and places she could go to get more help, and after two months of badgering Go To Gate she eventually got the resolution she wanted – a full refund on the second booking. 

It wasn’t easy for her, but this is a great example of how persistence can pay off. Of course it was stressful for her, and some people would have given up. But even when it looked like there was no way to get the money back, she kept going and eventually got the right result.

More articles on complaining 

My customer service nightmares (and how to complain)

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