How to complain about bad service

Mar 04, 2024
Source: Getty Images.

I have bought seven televisions in the past decade.

Five for my family and two for my wife’s mum. I bought them all from the same place. It’s not that the prices were any lower than elsewhere. At best, they were comparable. But I continued to go back because I liked the service that Videopro Homeworld Helensvale provided.

The staff were always friendly, always helpful. I bought the last of my TVs from them two weeks ago. When Dave, my installer man who has fitted all seven televisions arrived to install it, I asked him about a line (a row of dead pixels down the screen) that had appeared on the right-hand side of the television in our lounge.

I bought the 65-inch Samsung television three years ago from, you guessed it, Videopro Homeworld Helensvale.

“There’s nothing you can do about that line,’’ Dave announced.

“You need to go back to the people you purchased it from because three years is too soon for an expensive television to basically be stuffed. No doubt it will be out of warranty, but they really have an obligation to either try to fix it or to replace it under Australian Consumer Law. At the very least, they should contact Samsung on your behalf because they deal with Samsung all the time. They know who to talk to and they have more clout than you because they sell hundreds of these televisions every year.’’

Armed with a strong sense of righteous resolve I picked up the phone and called Videopro Homeworld Helensvale.

“Let me check when you bought the TV,’’ the salesperson said.

“Oh, it’s out of warranty. There’s nothing I can do to help.”

When I pointed out that it was an expensive television, he corrected me saying I’d paid only $1400 for the TV. Apparently, that’s not expensive.

I countered with: “Surely you can see that I’m a loyal customer and I’m hoping you might be able to show some loyalty back to me?”


“You need to contact Samsung. It has nothing to do with us.”

I thanked him and told him I would never buy another thing from them. Obviously, loyalty is a narrow bitter, and twisted, one-way street. I reacted swiftly and allowed my anger to take control. I truly believe $1400 televisions should last more than three years. And I also believe that a salesperson who sells televisions for a living should show at least a modicum of empathy when his product just up and dies.

That was a rookie error on my behalf – according to my wife. She later schooled me in the dark arts of complaining. More tips on that later in this article. But it did get me thinking: Does anyone really have success when they complain? Or are all staff just taught to reject customer complaints in the hope that the unhappy customer finally gives up and goes away?

I searched the internet and found a person who paid $1800 for an LG television that had developed the same “row of dead pixels” as my television. Their television was less than a year old. LG’s response was cold.

“We have considered the Australian Consumer Law and given the age of the product; LG considers that the TV has been of acceptable quality for a reasonable period of time,” their response read. As such the consumer guarantees no longer apply and LG does not believe that it is liable to provide you with a remedy under Australian Consumer Law.”

Most of us spend about 24 hours each year writing, texting or calling to complain about poor customer service.

Research shows that younger customers complain more, but us slightly older customers take complaints to the highest levels possible.

According to my wife, there is an art to complaining effectively.

  • The first thing, and she says this is the most important thing, is to pretend to be reasonable. Remember, that unless you are actually talking to the boss, the person in front of you at the counter, or on the other end of the phone, is just doing their job. They can’t go beyond store policy to appease you. So, with a smile on your face, always ask to speak to the manager and say things like “I know this is not your fault …”
  • Be as clear and as concise as you possibly can. You need to explain what your dilemma is in the simplest of terms so there is no room for confusion.
  • If you know your rights, don’t be afraid to quote any relevant laws that may help strengthen your position. Use the word Ombudsman every chance you get.
  • Say how you think this situation can be resolved effectively. The person you are dealing with needs to know how you want them to solve this situation.
  • Remember it’s not personal. Companies that specialise in bad service, deliver it to everyone these days in equal amounts. And bad companies get lots of complaints, so they know how to deal with people like you. Be smarter than them.

And last, but not least, if you are going to complain please remember to praise customer service operators when you get the chance. If someone gives you good service, let them know how grateful you are and encourage them to keep up the good work. It’s important to find a little balance in life.

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