Friday, August 30, 2013

Numbers and letters

The small person and I went to the Botanics yesterday, as we often do. I go for the plants and for the pleasure of his company - the enormous pleasure of wandering along beside him as he chats away: "Big tree... lotsandlots of leaves... fluffy flowers... Grandpa in Granny's house... ." Grandson goes for the tactahs.

He is very good indeed at identifying cars of the same make and model as ours: "Granny's car!" he announces. I, less talented, peer at it, read what it says on the back and agree. He's always right. His other skill is identifying numbers 1-9 - on buses, gateposts etc. (But - "How many feet do you have?" - "Fee four five!")

He hasn't got his colours yet, or not reliably. However, a career as a mathematician might be more profitable than one as an artist, anyway. Or he might be a car salesman, though I think being able to tell a red car from a black one might be useful there.

We watched the tactah digging a hole in the corner of what had been grass. The driver then cleared it of some bits of root and deposited them carefully on the path. Then a van came along with some other broken roots and stones in the back. Its driver jumped out and with a shovel, shovelled them into the hole. No, I have no idea why. Still, they seemed pleased.

I am currently also pleased at having got satisfaction out of Hotpoint regarding our dishwasher. Its history is: we bought in in October 10, it broke down in Jan 12, we got it expensively mended and it broke down again two weeks ago - same fault (dodgy switch). Of course it was out of guarantee even the first time it broke down but we feel that 15 months of working followed by another 19 months is a bit feeble. So I wrote to Customer Services asking what they thought. Silence.

So then one evening I emailed the managing director of Hotpoint UK.

The next morning, someone from Customer Services phoned up, apologised and said that an engineer would come and repair it, free. And he did.

The next day, a snotty letter arrived from Customer Services - sent, of course, before my email to the Managing Director.

This tactic - writing to a managing director - is one that I have employed before. The first time was when we were not long married and bits kept falling off our vacuum cleaner - which was again just out of warranty. As a result of my letter, an engineer was sent and he replaced all the broken parts - they were plastic - with metal versions. Again, free. A few years later, tiny Daughter 1 used to delight in pushing her feet against the plastic rain cover of her buggy / stroller and unpopping it, so that she got wet. Another letter to the MD, pointing out this design flaw, produced a replacement  cover - redesigned, with loops instead of poppers. In more recent years when Daughter 2 was studying in Sheffield, she couldn't get the electricity company to send her and her flatmates a bill, despite many emails. Eventually I wrote to the MD - the bill was waived.

I don't do this all the time - four times in nearly 40 years of marriage - but I commend it to you. It works!


  1. Couldn't agree more - and it is important to WRITE, not phone. Phone calls get you nowhere!

  2. Wonderful news on the repair - it does take the squeaky (but polite) wheel to get noticed.
    Might be worth forwarding the nasty customer service letter to the same MD so said MD can see the usual response their millions of customers get. It might be worth mentioning you mentioned the wonderful response you received (the MD response) and shared it with your web community.
    Every bit helps to get corporations back to doing the right thing.
    Love the grandsons fascination with tachtas and your engaging storytelling.

  3. Thank you for that advice! I have started writing too. These days so many products are either badly designed or badly made, and there is no excuse for that.

  4. Good for you! I am a seasoned complainer as well ... not whining but if something's not good enough then I do like to let people know. I made them re-make my sandwich at Subway on Tuesday because it was completely falling to bits. My only fail to date has been Australia Post, even the Managing Director doesn't care...

  5. Sound advice - and how lovely to wonder around a park with a grandson, sounds heavenly.

  6. Have you read the latest Isabel Dalhousie novel, The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds, in which little Charlie, a year older than your grandson, asks surprising questions and shows a facility for maths? So lovely. Well, I guess these are books you either love or hate.

  7. It's a sad world isn't it, when one has to go to the top of the pile to complain about a faulty product. I usually write "if I don't hear from you within 7 days I will be going to Consumers Affairs/Current Affair/60 Minutes" or whatever else I can think of at the time. That usually elicits a prompt response.
    I smiled at your remarks about identifying your car by reading the back, and being able to tell a red car from a black one! Ken still tells people about me choosing my cars because they were blue. Well, what other reason is there?

  8. Triumph. So satisfying! This is proved by your remembering all these moments of triumph and passing on your excellent advice!

  9. I don't use Twitter, but I have heard that is a good way to get results, too. Send out a tweet about how unhappy you are with a particular product or company, and your problem gets solved pretty quickly.

    My son could identify makes and models of cars at a very young age, whereas I can never recognize my own vehicle in a parking lot.

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  11. Another tactic is to 'name and shame' on your blog. Within an hour of doing so I received an apology from a major company. It's rather touching to know that within corporate offices someone sits there, blog-surfing!

  12. Husband's a great one for 'writing to the top', it does work!

  13. Well done. It takes a lot of energy and determination to tackle busineses.

  14. I'm going to have to remember that trick Isabelle! Whenever we have a complaint, TheManoftheHouse handles it. They're usually helpful just to get him off of their back LOL.

    Looks like you're having a grand time with your little buddy!