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I’ve done it this time –  a title loaded with irony. A contradiction in terms.

If that isn’t ‘click-bait’ to the internet browsing masses then I don’t know what is.

Ok I probably don’t know what is.

Or rather I do know, and indeed my title is not it. But I’d wager it’s a little enticing.

Can I really complain about people who complain without at least acknowledging that I belong in that group.

Well yes, I can as a matter of fact. Because I mean complain in the sense of ‘actually registering a complaint’ as opposed to just having a general whinge about stuff that annoys me.

There are people out there who like to complain to organisations about the service they have received, when objectively there is no basis for that complaint.

And that annoys me.

And so I’m going to complain about them.

This particular gripe began the other day when I was waiting to pay for fuel in a petrol station. I was waiting because there was a woman in front of me complaining about something. Her complaint was actively causing me to have to wait longer than I would otherwise have had to, so I felt no guilt whatsoever in eavesdropping.

Her complaint was as follows:

“There is a sign that says ‘customer parking’ in the forecourt of the petrol station, but there are always two cars parked there, so how are other customers supposed to park?”

The cashier, acknowledged her complaint and advised that yes, there were always two cars there and that they did, in fact, belong to him and his manager, who are not customers. He pointed out that there was adequate parking elsewhere on-site and he was more than happy to show it to her.

At this point I was vaguely with the complainer. Yes there was other parking available, but it was less obvious so perhaps the staff should have parked in those places and left the, clearly marked, parking bays for the customers.

However she lost me when she replied to the more than amiable cashier with the words “I don’t drive, I don’t need a parking space.”

She was just complaining for the sake of it, to be pedantic. She literally had nothing to gain from her complaint, and she caused me to have to wait longer than was strictly necessary to pay for my fuel and carry on with my day.

As it happens I used to work in a similar establishment, many years ago. And I remember people having a go at me for no good reason.

Various complaints received were about the price of the cigarettes (which I wasn’t responsible for), my inability to repair someone’s car (even though there is no reason at all to assume that someone who works for minimum wage in petrol station should be a skilled mechanic), and the fact that we’d sold out of the nice doughnuts one morning before the man who usually bought them had arrived. Ok it was actually me that had eaten those particular doughnuts, but I did pay for them (I think) and they could have been legitimately purchased by anyone – they weren’t specifically stocked for the benefit of this one individual no matter what he thought.

And my point is that the above weren’t just examples people having a bit of a moan, they were vitriolic complaints and aimed at me, the poor and humble cashier, who at the time was just trying to earn enough money to pay the rent on a shabby room in an overcrowded shared house and get irresponsibly drunk on cheap lager.

There was no need for it.

I’ve worked in other jobs when I’ve been the recipient of excessive complaining by consumers and it’s always been misplaced. Being angry about the service one has received doesn’t give a person the right to be angry at a poorly paid representative of the company delivering the service. It may possibly give someone the right to be angry at a well-paid representative of the company but, in truth, there’s no advantage to getting angry at all.

I’m not saying I wouldn’t complain if I received a particularly bad experience at the hands of an organisation. Registering an official complaint is sometimes necessary. Nonetheless when I do complain, I try to follow the complaints procedure of that offending organisation. And my complaint in as positive and friendly as I can make it. I don’t just do this because it’s nice to be nice (although it is) but also because it’s a far more effective way of resolving the issue than making  a receptionist feel miserable

If you have to complain about stuff, do it in the right way. If you want the situation to be resolved, then complain calmly and state the facts, preferably in writing.

If, on the other hand, you want to let off steam in an angry and incoherent fashion, then start a blog. I highly recommend it.

I do have one final bit of advice. If you are making an official complaint about something, don’t threaten to go to the press (as past-disgruntled customers have done to me). The press genuinely don’t care about your complaint.

The same goes for the ombudsman.

Indeed, no-one really knows why most ombudsmen exist.

7 thoughts on “James Complains About People Who Complain About Stuff

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