Monday 15 September 2003

shocked and dismayed in cambridgeshire

We're starting to feel cursed. Like years ago, one of us really pissed off some salesperson or delivery man and now the bad karma's come around to haunt us. As new homeowners, we've had to order a lot of stuff. This means having to deal with several companies for various goods, and relying on the service of delivery companies to bring us our goods. Sometimes, things go swimmingly. Take our sofas, for example. They arrived earlier than expected, with bonus cushions we hadn't ordered (and hadn't paid for). This was good. Sometimes, things go tats up. Take our dining room chairs, fridge, tumble dryer, dishwasher, and flooring for example. Dining room chairs: from Marks and Spencers, supposed to take 2 weeks to arrive, and now 7 weeks later, we're being told that it'll be another 2 weeks. Fridge: delivery men broke the levelling foot, an engineer had to come and verify that it was indeed broken (where can I get me one of them jobs?), a new fridge had to be delivered - all this after having waited over a month for it to arrive. Tumble dryer: company says it'll come on Tuesday, Tuesday comes and goes, company says ohhh no sorry it'll come to OUR DEPOT on Tuesday but won't get to you until sometime later in the week, Paul says feck off and you'd better deliver it tomorrow because we took a day off work waiting for you twonks to arrive, dryer finally arrives the next day. Dishwasher: after waiting 2 months, Paul rings the company to see when it's coming, Hotpoint then informs us that they've discontinued the model, Paul says feck off to the company we ordered it from, a new dishwasher from another company should be arriving this week. Flooring: ordered from B&Q, supposed to arrive on Friday, it doesn't but someone will call us on Saturday to let us know when it'll come, they don't, it arrives on Monday (surprise!), courier man asks how I'd like to get the 14 box palette off of his truck, reluctantly helps me haul the boxes into the house after I explain that it's generally not the customer's responsibility to get their goods from the courier's truck inside the house, I make an angry phone call to let B&Q know that making a woman with a bad back and a bad cold lift 8 boxes of laminate flooring is more than just a bit crap.

I wrote an angry letter to B&Q because dammit, we're fed up.

The English and Canadians aren't very good at complaining. We'll moan about how awful the food or service is at a restaurant to each other, but when the waitress comes around and says "How is everything?" we smile and say "Fine! Fine!" nodding enthusiastically. This is why when we do complain, it's usually pitiful ("Erm...terribly sorry to bother you but the lawnmower you sold me yesterday has...erm...exploded and seems to have killed my neighbours. I hate to be a pain, but could I please exchange it for a new one, if it's not too much trouble?") and we get nothing in return.

I admire the Americans for their ability to complain and American companies for being quick to offer some sort of compensation. You may call them a litigious society of moaners, but when you complain about something in the States (or Canada, most times), you get something in return. A free dessert. A week's supply of laundry detergent. All the Kraft products you can eat. My Mom used to write to companies whenever something would go wrong. Once, we got a can of Coke in a pack that was empty. Coke sent us a huge supply of soft drinks. Another time, she tried to make pudding from an instant mix, and it wouldn't set. Jello sent us a hamper full of products. She's received countless free dinners and desserts when restaurant meals have gone awry.

Would you get something in return for a complaint here? Would you, bollix. But being my mother's daughter, I will write letters when things go wrong and maybe, just maybe, I'll get a sympathetic reply and perhaps a free item of some sort.

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