Saturday, April 13, 2013



I read a post this morning from a journalist who attempted air travel with her dog.   When I read her complaint I have to confess my first thought was that  things hadn't been too bad.  I suppose my expectations have been lowered over the years.    It could have been worse.   Yes, she was on hold for too long trying to make arrangements.    She was mis-directed a few times both trying to board her dog and afterwards when she went to retrieve it.   But at the end of the journey her dog was well, albeit anxious, yelping and whining once it saw her.     There have been worse stories about dog air travel.

The writer revealed further that she had never received a response to her written complaint to the airline.     I could relate to that.   Over  the course of my adult life I have not infrequently wanted to write a letter of complaint and at times I have given in to that urge.  Sometimes my letter has been ignored.  I read once that for every letter written to a business, a hundred people felt the same but didn't get around to writing a letter about it.    Some businesses take complaint letters seriously, it seems.   Some do not.     Government monopolies, I suspect, have complaint boxes that empty directly into the trash.   It's not like you can go anywhere else.

There is probably a certain type of person who writes complaint letters, particularly when there is nothing that can be done about the situation at that point in time.   Firstly, it has to be a person who is comfortable with the written word and their ability to write a coherent and cogent letter.   That eliminates some.   There is also a certain type of person, I postulate, with qualities found in a parent and/or teacher (a great need to point out errors and what would correct it) and a strong sense of justice.  In combination this allows for the outraged indignation that will cast aside inertia and take pen, or more likely, keyboard in hand and proceed to address the shortcomings.

Oops, that's me!    

But one thing I've come to realize is that the person on the receiving end of your complaint is usually not in a position to do anything about it and has no control over company policy.    This is no doubt a source of aggravation to them.     I had cause recently to query my cable bill (which I have decided to cancel shortly but that's for another post) and was initially heartened by the entreatments at the bottom of my online bill to give my feedback, to 'please, let us know how we are doing.'   I realize now that the company doesn't really care about my opinion and what they are seeking is the appearance that they care.

The young man who answered the phone, after my ten minutes spent on hold, had no control over the time I spent on hold, did not design the confusing cable account log-in system, and did not make the decisions that kept adding and subtracting channels from our package.     Although I have no way of proving it, I very much doubt he was making notes to hand up to upper management regarding my oh-so-helpful suggestions.   I was left wondering why I had bothered to waste twenty minutes of my existence on earth in this fruitless endeavour.     

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