Why it pays to complain

My friends call me ‘The Returns Queen’ and the title is not unjustified. I don’t care if it is $500, $50 or $5 — I will take it back if I am not happy. And I have never ever been refused my money back. When I talk to my friends about this, they agree with my stance (although some of them think I’m a bit anal about it). Despite this, most of them say that they tend not to return things. They give me the following reasons:

• ‘I really can’t be bothered’
• ‘It’s all too hard’
• ‘I get embarrassed’
• ‘I don’t like being a whinger’
• ‘It’s only 5 bucks’

I understand this. Life is busy. We’re busy people with lots of demands on our time.

Who can be bothered, and why?
I’ll tell you why. Because if more people took back stuff that they weren’t happy with, there’d be more shops sending stuff back to their suppliers or not stocking it again, and there would be less crap in the stores. Better stuff for us consumers. More quality control.

Speaking of quality control
A big tick to Yarra Valley Snack Foods who make Macro chips who sent me a letter plus a voucher for $20 for my trouble. But what I liked the most is that they told me they would raise the issue at the next Quality Management meeting. What’s more, a real person really signed the letter. In other words, they took my complaint seriously. Which is the whole crux of the matter.

We all want to be taken seriously
Big time. In fact, according to Australia’s leading social researcher, Hugh Mackay, being taken seriously is one of the 10 desires that drive us as human beings. In his book, What Makes Us Tick?  the desire to be taken seriously is the very first chapter. (Good book, by the way. Well worth the read and gives great insights into why we do what we do.)

As a consumer
Whether it’s a stale packet of gluten free chips (in my defence, it was more than one, and on more than one occasion lol) or being ignored in a shop, or left hanging on the phone for way too long, it’s something we can do something about. If we’re not happy, we should say so. Nicely.

As a business person
If we’re in business or sales or customer service, taking our customers seriously is something we should be paying attention to. If we can meet that need for our customers and potential customers, by listening to them and taking them seriously, it can go a helluva long way towards building great relationships.


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