How I made Â£1,800 by complaining
How much extra can you pocket if you complain for a year? Chris Owen finds out.
Brits hate to cause a fuss. And as a result, we’re loathe to complain, even if the chicken needs a steak knife to get through it, and the lasagne is a brown brick of cremated pasta.
Well, for the last two years I’ve decided to stand my ground.
I kick up a fuss if something’s not right. It might be un-British, and taking assertion by the horns might be scarily out of my comfort zone, but I’ve done the unthinkable. I’ve fed back. I’ve pointed out the problems, and I’ve done it in person, there and then.
I’ve fed back on crap service, cruddy food, and the wrong stuff arriving – but it’s always been warranted.
I’m not being harsh, I just think that customers should get good service, and the right product they’re after, in the best condition. Where I perhaps differ from others who complain is that I’ve kept track of it all.
It all began with a table
It began in 2015, when we stood our ground after a marble topped table was dropped three times by a delivery company who attempted to then deliver just the table legs.
“You don’t just want the legs?”;
“No, I’d really rather like the flat bit on top too, cheers”.
That £200 refund got us going.
From here, the £6 vouchers from coffee chains for their less than ideal hygiene standards added an additional £42 in the year in all.
A further £68 (made up of £33, £25, and £10 respectively) came from complaints about rude staff from a bank, a utility provider, and a well known pharmacy chain which managed to insult a wheelchair user for having the temerity to block an aisle while trying to reach some Lemsip.
These were supplemented further by £135 from the garage we bought our new car from, who tried to fob us off with chips on the bonnet, (“I’ll polish these out” the guy with the glasses held together by sellotape told us), as well as a different sized engine and spec to what we’d agreed to.
In total, 2015 was a good year, bringing in £647 in goodwill gestures. Surely 2016 couldn’t match this? Oh, it did – and then some.
The pizza that could floor a horse
January kicked things off well – a well known pizza chain refunded an entire bill for four of us after it took 90 minutes to get a jug of water, amid three aborted attempts at cooking our food properly.
Another chain refunded a little less, but a decent amount for a pizza smothered in what could only be described as a “liberal” amount of chilli flakes.
I pointed out to the waitress that there was enough on it to floor a horse. The waitress agreed and I get a new one, for free.
I’m also proud that I made back over £70 alone through my personal crusade against mayonnaise.
It’s just such a terribly arrogant condiment. It assumes it will improve everything.
Try buying a pre-packed sandwich without mayo – good luck with that one.
Or try ordering a burger without mayo and not getting a confused, “why wouldn’t you want mayo?” look from the staff.
Then there’s coleslaw – which despite my asking for nothing with mayonnaise still has the audacity to appear next to my chips.
Speaking of chips, a note from March on the tracker points towards £13.00 back for a meal because of ‘weird chips’. I’ve no idea what these were, but they were clearly unacceptable, given the refund.
Staying within hospitality, pointing out to one, albeit reasonably budget, chain that mattress liners and bedsheets shouldn’t be an optional extra brought back £49.
A further £50 came from a much smarter, posher chain when I pointed out to the manager that, using a fully extended sock in lieu of a cat, I pointed out you couldn’t swing one in the “deluxe” single room, which also had a broken shower.
Being asked “do you know how expensive that bag is?” by a security guard when asking him to reach for it, (it was high up, I’m not a giant), prompted what I can only rather embarrassingly call A Pretty Woman Moment, but it got another £50 voucher back as apology.
Argue for more
Our coup de grace last year came from a kitchen installation which a few weeks later managed to melt the junction box it was plugged into. The £80 installation charge was wiped, (oh how kind that I don’t have to pay you for nearly torching the kitchen), and an extra £20 to round it up to a nice flat £100.
We argued £20 was a bit… insulting. We eventually settled for £480.
That’s more like it.
All in all, 2016 brought in £1,194, 50. Not bad for standing your ground – and, I’ll be very clear with this, no people were harmed or sacked in the process.
My father’s now got into the act, and he’s progressing nicely – even if he does have to check whether the £2.20 the parking machine gave him in extra change counts as a goodwill gesture. When I was young, he was very forgiving with some of my questionable chess moves, card plays, and Monopoly purchases, so it’s time to repay the favour.
The final result
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