Better Out than In: Complaining is Therapy

I’m looking at the weather forecast for the next few days. There’s more rain on the way and yet another Met Office weather warning in place.

One of the reasons I detest bad weather is because there is nobody to write and complain to.

When, as now, things are unseasonably cool, or the rain, as now, has been incessant and my chickens are barely able to strut in their run because the mud has got a decided look of Ypres about it, I would like to complain to someone.

I would like Something Done About It.

I mused on this as I picked up my small dog, stuck him under my arm and waded through another lake of clay and horse dung made liquid by the relentless downpours, on our morning walk.

The trouble is, there is no one.

There is no one to read a grumpy letter explaining that my grass is growing at a ridiculous rate – the bits of it that haven’t drowned and turned yellow.

No-one to respond to my dissatisfaction at the impact the weather is having on my wardrobe; that I am sick to death of the chic little raincoat I bought two years ago which I thought would make me look like I just stepped out of the Boden catalogue.

None of the models sporting rain macs in the Boden catalogue have pursed lips and scowls. They all look perfectly charmed by a light, April shower as it falls on their pink cheeks.

Whereas I have had quite enough of water pouring from the skies and have become positively sweary.

I look at the flooded farmland surrounding the village where I live and I vow to move to Ecuador. (That’s on the equator, right?)

I drive through another local village which floods regularly. The road is now a river with strong currents and the potential to sustain a new pleasure boat business.

As I creep along at a snail’s pace to avoid causing tidal waves, I try to work out what I could hold the Environment Minister, Michael Gove, responsible for.

The thing is, climate change isn’t down to him. Long spells of persistent rain do not have their origins in his office. He can’t turn the tap off.

Damn. You see? Nobody to complain to.

I am a serial complainer.

Back in the 80s I was given a book: The Henry Root Letters, by William Donaldson.

I loved the character of Henry Root, a wet fish salesman who enjoyed firing off letters offering helpful observations and suggestions for action to establishment figures – everyone from Margaret Thatcher to Cliff Richard.

Maybe that’s what fired my own penchant for the complaint letter.

Over the years I have channelled negative feelings arising from being alive, into positive action.

I have complained to numerous organisations and companies from Unilever to Renault.

What I’ve discovered is that when I feel dissatisfied with stuff – husband forgetting to wash bath out, children leaving newly ironed clothes on floor, bosses failing to respond to emails etc – it’s easier and more productive to take up a Cause.

Here are things I’ve complained about:

  1. Failure of local Prezzo restaurant to be able to provide a cup of tea. (They told me the coffee machine was out of order.)  Result: £20 voucher Prezzo voucher.
  2. Two broken drive shafts in the space of thirteen months. Result: free  £1400 repair in spite of vehicle being out of warranty.
  3. Intermittent fault with dishwasher. It was a request to imagine the hell of a nine year old boy’s birthday party without my Indesit companion which finally resulted in: Replacement Dishwasher.
  4. Renaming of my online business account so I couldn’t access it. Result: £200 goodwill gesture.
  5. Failure of online payment app to make online payment, requiring extensive communication with provider via a call centre in Mumbai. Result: £30 goodwill gesture.
  6. Cashew content in pack of mixed nuts. One cashew alone makes it a ‘mixed nut.’ Result: supermarket voucher.
  7. Something to do with Persil wash tabs (over promising?). Result: envelope full of vouchers for Persil wash tabs.
  8. Something to do with Revels (Lack of diversity?) Result: envelope full of vouchers for Mars products.

And so the list goes on. These days, a quick tweet will often prompt a similar response but composing a tweet does not have the same therapeutic qualities to be had from drafting a letter.

At one point, I dabbled with learning the drums.

Hitting drums was another good way of expelling unwanted negative thoughts.

It was however, noisy and deeply irritating to those around me.

I prefer to be noisy and deeply irritating on a one-to-one basis.

I’ve noticed a misplaced apostrophe in an advert for a car servicing provider. 

I’m saving it for the next time I’m out when the Fed Ex man calls.

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  1. You could try getting in touch with the man who “I bet” drinks Carling Black Label and was able to turn off the rain - .

    Do you think you might be able to complain to Vodafone on my behalf about my most recent bill that was £550 more than the £30 it normally is. I spent a big part of the weekend politely arguing with several people at their so called “help centre” and have got nowhere. The thanks I get for being a loyal customer of more than 12 years.

    I went down to the seafront this afternoon and, honestly, it felt just like winter. So much for Sunny Bournemouth.

    1. Write a letter, Julian! Detail every conversation and the names of those you spoke to (if you took them at the time). I wrote so many letters to Unicom when I was seemingly stuck in a contract with them that in the end, they asked me what it would take for me to go away. Good luck!

      1. Success! After much complaining to Vodafone I got nowhere. Its final correspondence was to notify me the case was “at deadlock”. So, I decided to make my complaint via Ombudsman Services. Within just a couple of days, Vodafone has changed its attitude:

        “We have contacted Vodafone about your complaint and it has agreed to provide the following as a resolution to your complaint:
        · provide a refund of data charges for April and May totalling £760.50; and
        · refund any resulting credit balance as a direct payment.

        So Sam, get the wine glasses ready!

  2. If the weather isn’t good you could blame the weather presenter, but that would be you!! Stand up weather girl (and take a good hard slap).

    It’ll get better Sam, just as soon as Nelson gets his eye back.

  3. One of my greatest pleasures was finding the Henry Root letters book on a bookshelf in Annecy circa early 1980s and reading over the 2 week holiday..I loved the offer of the £1 to get things moving… Happy memories xx

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