The worst offenders for customer service


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Jan 28, 2007
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The worst offenders for customer service

The worst offenders for customer service

Discover which industries provide the worst customer service and how to fight back.

According to research from the Co-operative Financial Services, the average Brit has 246 experiences of poor customer services. Would have thought the number would be higher myself…

Top five providers of poor customer service



Mobile Phone Network

Internet Provider

Energy/Utility Provider

Source Co-operative Financial Services

Being typically British, some of us are reluctant to kick up a fuss - I don't want to make a scene, nobody likes a moaner, complaining won't make a difference etc. However, there are things you can do if you don't want to take it anymore.

1. Give the company a chance to fix things

Most ombudsmen will not consider your complaint unless you have exhausted internal customer services procedures. For instance, the Financial Services Ombudsmen (FSO) will not officially investigate until you and the company have been deadlocked for eight weeks.

If you are not having much luck with customer services, the threat of involving the ombudsman could speed matters along. Although it is free for you to take a complaint to the FSO, companies that receive more than three complaints a year pay £500 per case.

2. Keep a record

Chances are your complaint will go more smoothly if you can substantiate your version of events. Obviously the most effective approach is to put everything in writing. If you speak to someone over the phone, make a note of their name, the time of the call and the outcome of the conversation.

3. Speak to the right person

If you are in a shop or restaurant, make sure you deal with an employee who has the authority to rectify the situation. A junior assistant or waiter might not have the seniority to authorise a refund.

Remember to stay calm and courteous however frustrated you become - this is much more likely to lead to a satisfactory resolution.

4. Become a legal eagle

We're not suggesting a law degree but it won't hurt to do some research into the basic legal principles surrounding your case. For instance, the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 requires companies to provide the service with 'reasonable care and skill' in a 'reasonable time' and for a 'reasonable cost'.

Likewise, distance selling regulations provide additional protection if you buy something by phone, mail order or online. After you receive the item, you will have a seven day cooling off period to change your mind.

Under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, if you use a credit card to pay for purchases between £100 and £30,000, you can seek redress from the credit card company if you are not satisfied with the goods.

5. Accept when you're in the wrong

If you've taken your case to an independent adjudicator who has ruled against you, it could be time to take an honest look at your grievance. Is there a chance your case is invalid? Was your judgement clouded by anger? Although you could object to the decision or take legal action, it might be time to let the matter drop. Legal action could costs ten of thousands and there is a good chance the courts would agree with the ombudsmen.

Before taking legal action, a decent solicitor should give you an honest appraisal of your chances of winning the case.