Complain by phone
Complain by phone - or write a letter of complaint?
Obviously if a situation needs resolving urgently you must phone, but that's different to complaining. When something goes wrong the the temptation is often to get on the phone straight away, and give someone 'a piece of your mind' about whatever has disappointed or annoyed you, but phoning to complain in this way is rarely a good idea. This is because:
- 'Heat of the moment' complaints almost always produce confrontation, emotion, and misunderstanding, which are not conducive to the cooperation necessary for good solutions and outcomes.
- For companies to handle complaints properly they need to be able to deal with facts and written records. Written details are essential to their complaints processing, and a letter is a far more reliable way of communicating these things than a verbal phone exchange.
- You will need your own record of the complaint to establish accountability, responsibility, that you have actually complained, when you complained, and to whom. Telephone conversations do not automatically create a record. With a phone complaint there is nothing for you to refer back to; no copies can be produced when and if you need to follow up the complaint.
- A letter gives you the chance to present your case in the best possible way. Telephone conversations can quickly get out of control.
- Writing a letter helps you to calm down and do things properly. Calling people immediately on the phone often fuels your emotions, especially if the person at the other end isn't good at handling you. When you lose control of your emotions you lose control of the situation, your credibility, clarity, cooperation, goodwill and objectivity; all of which you need if you want to achieve the best possible outcome.
- For very serious matters you should be using recorded or registered post, which effectively guarantees that your letter reaches the recipient. There is of course no equivalent by telephone.
- If you do need to phone the company in relation to any aspect of your claim, even if just to chase progress, always ensure you record the conversation. As it is for your own personal use, this is perfectly legal and you do not need to advise the other person that you are recording the call.