James Walker: ’Fess up – should you have made a complaint?

Many people don't complain because they blame themselves. Picture: Getty Images
Many people don't complain because they blame themselves. Picture: Getty Images
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I’m often out and about around the country meeting people and talking to them about the problems they’re experiencing. It’s a great way to find out about the issues that matter – but I sometimes feel I should bring a confessions box with me.

Pretty much every week, someone will approach me and say “I’ve got a problem with [insert company here], but it’s all my fault”. All too often this is the reason they don’t make a complaint.

So I’m flinging open the doors of the Resolver confession box and giving you all a forgiveness pass.

Loads of people don’t complain about important things because they blame themselves. Being realistic about things you could have done better is important when making a complaint. But that doesn’t absolve the business of bad behaviour either. Here’s a few confessions and my response:

‘I didn’t read the terms and conditions’

In a perfect world: You should always read the T&Cs so you know your rights.

In practice: T&Cs have become like War And Peace in some circumstances. Businesses aren’t allowed to bury key facts in them. If the term is fundamentally important, it should be flagged up. If it isn’t, you could have been misled.

‘I borrowed money but I can’t afford to pay it back’

In a perfect world: You’ve entered in to a contract and you have to pay the money.

In practice: Life sometimes throws a spanner in the works. From mortgages to credit cards, if you get in to difficulties, speak up. The lender should try to give you a little breathing space with charges or talk you through your options. If they don’t, get in touch with Resolver.

‘I didn’t give a meter reading and now I’ve got a big bill’

In a perfect word: Grit your teeth and pay it, it’ll come down soon.

In practice: Why did your energy provider leave it so long? If it’s been ages, they’re responsible too – and they may be willing to reduce the bill given their mistake. Get them to talk you through what they can do to help with energy saving options.

‘I don’t open my bills’

In a perfect world: If you don’t open your bills, you won’t know if things have gone wrong.

In practice: Whether you’re in denial about money you owe or you make a regular payment so you’re assuming that everything’s okay, it’s easy to let the bills build up. The same goes for going paperless and never checking your online account. As long as you don’t bin them unopened – or lose your password – you can refer back to them if something goes wrong. But every three months minimum, grit your teeth and open them, when it’s not too late to turn a problem around.

‘I don’t update my insurer’

In a perfect world: You need to tell your insurer about “significant events” from illnesses to expensive purchases.

In practice. The insurer should give you enough information so you understand your obligations. This ranges from asking you key questions when you take out the policy to making their documents and written requirements clear.

I hope you feel forgiven enough to not suffer in silence. If you encounter unforgiving customer service, get in touch and we’ll help you get the problem sorted.

James Walker is the founder of online complaint-resolution service Resolver.co.uk