How not to do it

I’d like to think that if you surveyed my friends and family and asked them how they would describe me some of the following may pop up more than once in that list; happy (yep, genuinely most of the time), diplomatic, optimistic, patient and thoughtful. Of course there’d be some others thrown in for good measure too!

I’d also like to think that these traits lend me well to my job and, more generally, help me get by in life. Although, as a consequence I find that I tend not to complain. I don’t complain about luke warm cups of coffee, the rather rude shop assistant who stands chatting with a colleague whilst I wait, slow service in an empty restaurant or the fact that every road I use seems to filled with potholes (some very poorly patched) when I pay ever more taxes each year. Because, let’s face it, no matter how annoying all of these things are there are also always more important things to worry about.

A woman on a crusade

So, it rather took me by surprise when I experienced something which made me so mad that I simply had to complain. So very mad that I had to do it as soon as I possibly could because, if I had waited, I might not be this mad and then I wouldn’t. If I didn’t do it, and no one else did, they would never know how upset and frustrated we all were. I was quite simply a woman on a crusade. I was Emmeline Pankhurst chaining myself to the railings outside Buckingham Palace (metaphorically speaking). 

In hindsight and as time has mellowed me I realise that it wasn’t actually that important so I won’t bore you with all the details. There’s an annual event which manages to gridlock everything within a 10 mile radius of the office for two (work)days each year. A half hour journey turns into nearly four hours because of lack of organisation and an unsuitable venue choice and, if you had spoken to me that day, I would definitely have also added incompetence to the list. So, I put my fingers to the keyboard and crafted a masterpiece. As I pressed send, I was certain that this email would change things for evermore. Then I waited.

Their speedy response

It didn’t take long to receive a response. This was surely a good start? Maybe, until I realised that what I had gained in speed was lost in content. I was simply astounded to find that this response absolved the organisers of any responsibility for what we had experienced at all. In fact, they didn’t just imply it…this was actually what they told me, and I quote: “This mornings problems had nothing at all to do with the Show,” (note the poor punctuation). As I read on blame was assigned to; ‘the weather’ (yes, really), ‘numerous accidents’ (later confirmed as only three in total and none at all on my route), ‘the local cattle market’ (held every Wednesday with no such difficulty), ‘broken down vehicles’ (I saw none during my four and a half hour drive), the ‘local County Council’ and ‘the Highways Agency’ (I was given a number and encouraged to call them)…you probably get the idea. 

To add insult to injury I was sure he hadn’t actually read my email at all (he had failed to pick up on any of my witty comments) and I began to wonder whether he had simply recycled this dreadful response. But, for me the pinnacle of this shocking response was his closing paragraph…an admission that (as I had quite rightly pointed out in my complaint) the show had completely outgrown the showground and was moving to another venue in 2014, to say I was flabbergasted is an understatement. It was at this point that my rage about how my complaint had been treated turned into astonished bewilderment.

Lessons learnt

So, why am I telling you about all this? Well I guess it’s because it’s not until you are on the receiving end of such apathetic drivel that you realise how there’s always the potential to make a bad situation even worse. As an optimist (see top) I needed to take something positive out of this whole experience so I related it to the only thing that I could realistically change – my own behaviour. Therefore, as our customer service co-ordinator, I pledge to anyone who should ever have cause to complain (and I really hope you do not) that:

  • I will always read your complaint thoroughly
  • I will do my best to understand your point of view
  • You will never be fed excuses or a list of reasons why we are not responsible if we are; and, (most importantly)
  • Whatever I write will be sincere….because, if it isn’t, you will know. I know that too now



Last date edited: 7 May 2013

About this blog

Sarina Young

Sarina joined us in 2008 as our customer services co-ordinator. Among other things, she manages our national customer service team, complaints procedure and requests for information made to the Trust. She says that the most important thing to her is to be able to go home and feel as though she’s achieved something, however small that might be. Her job is hugely satisfying, widely varied, full of deadlines, immensely interesting, sometimes challenging and no day is ever the same, although some are surprisingly familiar!  

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