It is remarkable what a difference it makes in a shop if you sound as if you know what you’re talking about, especially if you mention the Consumer Rights Act. Shop staff are likely to assume that you know what you are talking about and will back off accordingly.
One of the most important things to remember, and please don’t think I’m being patronising here because I’ve forgotten this rule myself on countless occasions, is to stay calm and don’t get angry, no matter how annoying and unhelpful staff are becoming. I have a friend, with a very public profile, who called a call centre recently to complain about something. Forgetting that he had given his very well-known name at the start of the conversation, which wasn’t going his way at all, he ended it by telling the ‘customer service operative’ that he “should go away and get a proper job.” Or words like that! I’m sure it kept the whole place going for hours afterwards!
Many of the complaint letters I see are wordy, lengthy, rude and vague. Not the ones sent to me by readers of this fine newspaper you understand, but the forwarded copies of the ones that have gone to the companies concerned. While there is always a temptation to show what we know and record every aspect of a transaction in minute detail, I have always found that the letters that generate the best, and quickest, response are concise and polite. Simply detail what you bought, where you bought it and why there is a problem. Set a deadline by which you should receive a reply, and outline what you will do next if no reply is forthcoming. Keep an accurate record of any telephone conversations you have had, noting dates and times as well as names of anyone you speak with. Use these details in your letter if you think it will help.
Always write to the most senior person you can. Call the company concerned and ask Switchboard for the name of the Chairman or MD and address your letter there. And always follow up within the timescale that you set at outset.