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The question Complaints

A survey by the Consumers' Association has revealed that only one in four people who felt they had been given bad service fired off a letter to the management or phoned up in fury.

So we ask: What last drove you to complain?

Maybe I'm unusual, but I'm a 'habitual complainer'. My most common complaints are overcooked steaks and cold hamburgers. It is worth investing a few minutes to write letters - for me these have yielded refunds on electricity, gas and phone bills, free flights, free shuttle tickets and several cancelled hotel bills. If someone complains to you, resolve it gracefully and you'll get a happy client who thinks more highly of you. By the way, one of the toilets at Great George Street was out of order last week - any chance of a refund on my ICE subscription?

James Bell, 33, European sales manager, London.

As an advocate of my own industry I took it upon myself to write to my local paper to complain about the NIMBYesque attitude and lack of a sensible approach towards sustainable transport of a local action group. The next week the responses in the paper accused me of being deaf, a masochist and a repressed trainspotter!

Alan Swan, 24, senior transport engineer, London

Until work and family commitments forced me to give up, I was the local rights representative of the CTC, Britain's largest cycling organisation. During that time I wrote a lot of letters - encouraging or cajoling politicians, engineers and police to improve the dreadful conditions faced by cyclists in this country. Mostly it was a thankless task. Late nights slaving over a computer are often rewarded with prejudice and obstructive attitudes. Even with the authorities behind you there is a limit to what can be achieved - it is after all your neighbours who decide whether you spend the day at work, or in the hospital. It is not all gloom though. The Government has at least acknowledged that there is a problem, and that it needs to be addressed. I don't expect to see any improvements in my lifetime but maybe my grandchildren will.

Alasdair Massie, 37, senior engineer, London.

We were delayed seven hours and re-routed on an airline flight two years ago when cabin staff were on strike. On the initial complaint we were told that it was not the airline's policy to compensate travellers delayed due to industrial action, but on the follow-up response, detailing expenses incurred, we were offered 1,000 air miles. This paid for a pleasant weekend away in Edinburgh. In the UK we do not demand the level of customer service we are entitled to. ISO9000 registered companies should all have complaint handling procedures in place. We should exploit these. If all else fails the threat of Anne Robinson always works wonders.

Brian Rousell, 29, senior engineer, Dartford

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