I don’t like to complain, but … there comes a time. After experiencing yet another power outage, I’ve decided that Southern Electric really do need to pull their finger out, so have escalated my annoyance into a formal complaint.
Really effective complaints are an art form.
The temptation, of course, is to have a good old rant, heavily laced with sarcasm, but this isn’t necessarily the best way of getting things done (even if it makes you feel better). In the first place, the person dealing with the complaint probably isn’t the person whose fault it is; in the second place, it isn’t necessarily anybody’s fault as such – it may just be one of those things.
Better to assume that the people on the receiving end are actually interested in keeping your custom and providing you with a good level of service. And if they do spend their lives on the receiving end of rants, sarcasm and abuse, then the chances are that a fair and courteous complaint is going to be far more effective.
One of the benefits of belonging to my generation is that we are genuinely multi-media – just as capable of writing a letter as firing off a carefully honed tweet. (If you really want someone to notice your complaint, you can’t do better than a hand written letter using a fountain pen and good quality cream writing paper with matching envelope – nothing says “I’m seriously annoyed” like permanent black ink.)
I’m not quite at the italic and black ink stage with Southern Electric, so here’s my email to the Head of Customer Service:
Since May, my street (houses and street lights) has been experiencing power failures. Following the original one in May, we have had at least three major outages and it is not unusual to come home to find that there has been an outage (this happens every few weeks). Last night, the power failed three times (21:40, 00:00 and 04:00).
I have stopped resetting the clock on my microwave (it’s not worth it), limited my frozen food supply to a bag of peas and a couple of loaves, make sure that I always know where the torch is and have memorised your emergency telephone number; but this is getting beyond a joke and it is surely only a matter of time before someone is injured because the lights suddenly go off.
I understand that the problem is thought to be with an underground cable. Whilst I appreciate that work involving digging up the road may need to be planned ahead, I would have expected something to be done by now.
So, could you please let me know what you intend to do to resolve this problem and when you intend to do it?
On a positive note, I appreciate the prompt and courteous service that I have received from you emergency support service: engineers are dispatched quickly and customers are kept up to date with the progress of the call.
I look forward to hearing from you.