Friday 11 March 2011

The bird gets the hump

I had had it in mind to write a post on this topic when I read an article in The Times newspaper a few weeks ago, that people had taken to using Twitter to air problems with poor service etc. as a more effective means of resolving their problems than writing a old fashioned letter or hanging on the phone waiting for their turn at a call centre. Well I do not do Twitter or Facebook. Right now I am struggling to find the time for my blog. Recently I had noticed that husband and I have had a spate of letter writing in an attempt to resolve a number of issues, which should have been sorted out with out the need to resort to going into print.

There have been four issues, where we are the aggrieved party, that have necessitated writing a letter. That seems, to me, to be quite a lot of issues that we are trying to resolve all at the same time. Usually there is only one thorny issue that needs to be sorted out at any given time.  One has been sorted out quite quickly, but three others are becoming long standing problems which are proving difficult to resolve. So maybe if I air my grievances here, I might just get a result.

The easiest issue to sort out has been the problem with our council tax banding which we discovered was  two bands higher than our neighbour's larger and more expensive house. Financially that is £12 per week. Husband wrote to the local Valuation Office about it. Their response suggested that they had not completely understood his letter but it had the desired effect and both our house and the neighbour's house are in the process of being revalued, which is what we wanted.

The problem that is the longest running and has given us the biggest headache is the problem of the other neighbour's barking dog. We seem to have written endless letters and e-mails to the Environmental Health Department of the local council together with the completion of many time sheets detailing when, how often and for how long the dog has been barking.  At present the problem is still unresolved. After I posted  A night on the tiles I had intended to write a post explaining some more of the background to the problem, but I did not do so, because we had a surprise intervention into the problem, on our behalf. Consequently I felt that it was wiser to keep quiet. The intervention came to nothing and I shall write the intended post shortly.

Then there is the issue of our shower insurance.We had two identical showers fitted at around the same time. One in the bathroom and another in the shower room. When the guarantees expired our details were passed to the insurance company HomeServe. According to their records we have two different showers and because their letters were so vague, non specific and generally badly written we did not realise that the information that they held  was incorrect. As a result we have paid too much for the insurance of one of the showers. Since we realised the mistake, about November of last year, we have been trying to get back the over payment and they have refused to refund the money to us. Last month we received  a letter from HomeServe, dated 11 February 2011, informing us that our policy was due for renewal on 3 December 2010 with a quoted premium that is different to the two that we have previously paid. I think that we have given up on this one. It has just become too complicated to explain.

Our fourth little difficulty is the shrunken jumper which I gave a mention to, in a post, back in December. The jumper had been washed by hand, exactly as every other jumper that I have ever washed and this was the first one ever to shrink. I had not expected to be refused a refund or an exchange because the jumper had definitely shrunk and I had always thought that M&S were a reputable company and their customer service was second to none. I was so amazed at their attitude that I left the store without trying to argue with the assistant. I did not have an argument prepared which was my mistake. From this I have learnt always to have a Plan B! Anyway, after Christmas, I wrote to the head office about the jumper. When I had not received a reply after four weeks, I wrote again. They claimed that they had not received my first letter. (I am not sure that I believe that). I was then asked to send the jumper in to them so that they could examine it, which I did. Their response has been to send me a voucher for 40% of the value of the jumper, which will not replace the jumper. I suppose it will probably buy me two sleeves. I asked again for a full refund or for the jumper to be returned to me.  They have disposed of the jumper and refused a full refund. My M&S chargecard is now in shreds and I shall not be buying anymore knitwear from M&S. There is plenty of competition on the high street and the Internet.


mrsnesbitt said...

M&S - I would have expected more - like you I am bitterly disappointed!

Akelamalu said...

M&S are usually so good at customer relations, I'm very, very surprised and disappointed in them! I wouldn't let that be the end of it write to them again and send a copy to Trading Standards.

Re your other complaints - stick with it don't let them win.

cheshire wife said...

mrsnesbitt - I am pleased that you agree with me.

Akelamalu - I haven't finished with M&S. I shall be writing to them again. Thank you for suggesting Trading Standards.

Jennytc said...

I too am very disappointed in M&S but Homeserve - well, here's my post on my Dad's experience with them here. Absolute rubbish. Hope you get your problems sorted soon.

cheshire wife said...

Jennyta - we will not be renewing the HomeServe policies when they expire.

the fly in the web said...

I have never shopped at M and S....overpriced for the quality, in my view....and trying to assist M and S employees who had had problems with their terms and conditions of work demonstrated clearly that all the hairdressing sessions in the world don't compensate for a basically exploitative attitude.
There is something wrong with that firm.

Trading Standards will be your best bet...there should be no way that the item would shrink and I suspect it has been destroyed because the content is not as stated on the label.

Maggie May said...

I'm surprised that M&S have taken that attitude. Don't blame you for feeling as you do.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

LindyLouMac said...

Absolutely nothing appears to be straight forward these days, but you do seem to be having a bad run!!

Bear's Editorial Committee said...

We are sorry to learn of your difficulties, Ms. CJ. Once again we are confronted by the idiocies of contemporary life. Shameful, indeed.

GaynorB said...

I am also very surprised at M&S.
They used to work on the basis that good products and customer service is important to success (particularly in the current trading circumstances).

A 40% refund is a joke and an insult. It is probably worth another short follow up letter, requesting again that they return your property, as this will be necessary for you to persue your case through Trading Standards.

Good luck!

Jennyff said...

It has become increasingly difficult and time consuming to get any sort of customer service nowadays. I think companies work on the principle that we will tire before they do. I am becoming a bit obsessive about standing up for my rights, but then I have time to do this. I also take the time to acknowledge good service. As you suggest, voting with your feet is always a useful restort, lets hope M&S are reading this.

cheshire wife said...

Fly - I think that you are right. It was sub-standard.

MM - I am sure that you would feel the same way in my position.

LLM - yes and the problems continue!

Bear - my life at the moment does seem to be fraught with difficulties.

Gaynor - I have asked for the jumper to be returned but M&S have disposed of.

Jenny - I am not giving up on this one.

Gilly said...

Oh dear, you are having a really bad time! But I would have thought better of M&S, especially as people are not buying so much now and they have a lot or competition.

Keep at it!

cheshire wife said...

Gilly - there is another letter in the post to M&S.

Carol said...

It's so frustrating when you have to fight for what your entitled to!!

I wish you lots of luck getting it all sorted out!

C x

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Trying to resolve problems can be problematic can't it! Easier sometimes just to give up and give in. Depends on how much that would irk you I suppose. Good luck with those that you pursue. Am slightly surprised at M&S although I did experience a small difficulty a few years ago. I may do a post about it! A x

cheshire wife said...

Carol - thank you.

SJA - I would be interested to read about your experiences.