The writing habit
Quite a lot of my work involves writing. I write to clients, and I write to tax authorities and I write to service providers on behalf of my clients. I write articles and I write web content.
Sometimes my work involves presenting arguments. I have had a lot of practice arguing a case whether it is a business case or a tax case. I suppose I might be quite good at it by now.
The big business bullies
Especially for a start-up business but also for many small businesses, large organisations can make life difficult. That is because the big corporates seem intimidating. Their contracts and procedures can be quite arbitrary. If you query something they have done, the first answer you will get from their call centre is along the lines of “that is the way we always do it”.
So you find that you have signed up to a contract you didn’t think you had agreed to, or you have a bill for work or a service which you thought was part of the contract but they say is extra, or there is a problem with your service that they will not correct. It is very annoying. In fact it can be very stressful too, especially if you have received an unexpected bill you hadn’t budgeted for.
Letters of complaint
If I get trouble from one of these leviathans of the business world I write letters. Emails are all very well, but they are easily deleted, and you don’t always know if they have reached anyone with authority to deal with your complaint or the gumption to pass it on to someone who has. A letter somehow sits on a desk looking at someone who eventually has to deal with it.
If you have a problem with a large company or even a Government agency, try to find out who is in a position to make a decision, such as the Head of Customer Services, the Managing Director, the Chair(wo)man, the CEO etc.. You need a name and Google is our friend.
If that does not bring a result, then most industries have an “Ombudsperson”. Take the complaint to them.
US President Calvin Coolidge said “Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence”.
One has to be persistent. In the past year or so I have obtained success in dealing with bad decisions by:
- a large telecoms company
- a well-known health services provider
- an insurance underwriter
In all those cases it was ultimately the letters that did the trick.
I write letters because I am used to doing it but I don’t think my success with getting justice from large suppliers is necessarily because I am good at arguing. The success is just because you write to them and you keep at it until they get fed up with you. You must have a good case and it is important to set out clearly why you think they are wrong. You don’t need to write in longhand using green or purple ink like “Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells”. You just need to show you mean business, which is why sending a letter is psychologically more effective than plunging an email into the ether.
Getting your complaints dealt with fairly needs dogged persistence. I believe in saving as much paper as I can, but sometimes it is very effective in winning an argument.
Do you write letters when you have a business issue? How do you get on?