James Walker: Be confident when it comes to complaining

Whatever 2017 has in store, the good news is there are lots of rules, regulations and legislation that can help you if you need to make a complaint.

Notes can help to jog your memory
Notes can help to jog your memory

At Resolver, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in people using our free complaints service to achieve justice, with nearly 400,000 people making a complaint in 2016.

Knowing that you have somewhere to turn if things go wrong can give you the confidence to deal with all kinds of organisations and businesses, big or small. And though we hope you won’t need to make a complaint in the coming year, here’s my top tips from the past 12 months to keep handy, just in case...

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Write it down

Keeping details of a complaint is important. Jot down all you can remember about the situation with which you’re unhappy. Bullet points are fine – the notes are to help jog your memory. Writing things down helps focus your mind too. Many of us get frustrated on the phone when we can’t get across what we’re unhappy with. Putting your thoughts in order will help you get your points across more effectively. Keep copies of everything you send or receive, and when you made phone calls (and who you spoke to).

Switch energy provider

When the heating goes off, there’s a period when your energy bills start to stabilise and you’re more likely to be in credit. This means it’s easier to switch providers and you can cash in your credits too. But make sure you give regular meter readings – you don’t want your bills to rocket due to miscalculations by the energy company.

Delays can pay

It’s been a year of frustration for many commuters. But don’t let that anger at delays and cancellations go unchannelled – you’re likely to be entitled to a refund and it’s really not complicated. The rules are a little different for trains, planes and tubes but the fact is you may be missing out on cash you’re entitled to claim back when delays darken your day.

Payday loan payback

Complaints about payday lenders tripled in 2016, as publicity about the unacceptable practices of some lenders became more widely known. If you’ve had to turn to a payday lender and got in to difficulties, it can be hard to admit it or ask for help. Anyone can find themselves in financial difficulties rapidly when money gets tight, so don’t blame yourself. If you were forced to “roll over” loans or borrow from other lenders to pay off existing loans you’ve got the right to make a complaint and you may be entitled to compensation for the way you’ve been treated.

Strip back insurance

Your insurance may cover you for every eventuality, but do you need to pay for optional extras you’ll probably never use? Do you need your car keys or satnav covered? Is it worth paying to protect £100,000 of home contents, when your goods are worth much less? Consult your policy and strip these back.

Keep calm and carry on

State your case politely, clearly and simply – and don’t take no for an answer. Be positive and constructive. If you believe you’re right, stick to your guns. You don’t need to be a legal expert – just explain things in your own words. Even if you don’t get everything you’re looking for, you can make your voice heard.