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Bad form

In the olden days, any customer with a grievance had to write to head office or, in Spain, ask for the 'libro de reclamaciones' (complaints book). But now it's different, writes Peter Edgerton...

Friday, 22 March 2024, 16:50

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Long ago, when there was no interweb, none of the very unsocial social media we delight in today existed. So, if Joe Egg wanted to air his opinions on any given subject, he had only a few options.

The first of these was to spout forth down at the pub, where he would be roundly laughed at by his chums and ushered off to get the beer. Another possibility was to write to the newspaper as 'Angry From Alicante', in order to offer his dubious views on immigration/pot holes/recalcitrant youths. Most of these missives were immediately binned by long-suffering editors and poor old Angry would, hopefully, give up.

A complaint against a business couldn't be made on Trippy Advisor where, these days, any Tom Dick or, indeed, Harry can post any old tosh under the pseudonym #TravelHipsterGuru with little or no filter. (We once had a one-star review which just said 'Shameful' with no further explanation. Maybe the poor chap passed by one evening when I was singing). In the olden days, any customer with a grievance had to write to head office or, in Spain, ask for the 'libro de reclamaciones' (complaints book). This is a formal affair still in existence today, though rarely used for the reasons cited above. In fact, we've never had anyone ask for it since we opened. Until last week.

You know when someone walks in and you just sense by their bad energy? Well, this man - in his sixties - was that very chap. It didn't start well.

'Gin and tonic.'

His tone was more fitting of someone threatening to set about somebody else with a lump hammer. Reluctantly, I gave him his drink (unfortunately, until somebody actually does something wrong you can't throw them out simply because you don't like the cut of their jib). As suspected, he then began to make a general nuisance of himself, talking unbidden to random strangers, etc. until - bingo! - he tried to take a bank note from a customer's hand. Gotcha! - direct red card, my friend. I told him to leave but, incredibly, he said he wouldn't go until I gave him another drink. Well, that wasn't happening. He sat drinkless at the bar for fifteen minutes before playing his trump card.

'I want the complaints book.'

Required by law to hand it over, I duly obliged. He scrawled an illegible account of his perceived grievance and I signed it although I could have been buying fully-fitted double glazing for all I could make out. He offered one last gambit.

'I'll tear the form up if you give me a drink.'

I'd rather listen to Bad Bunny on a loop for the rest of eternity,' I didn't reply, sharply. (Actually, I just said 'No.')

Twenty minutes later, he shuffled off, defeated.

There's still the small chance that he'll present the complaint at the consumer office, which would involve me in a tiresome legal spat but my money is on him waking up with a godawful hangover, clutching a piece of paper displaying an indecipherable account of an imaginary tale of woe in an eight-year-old's handwriting, and thinking better of it.

Can't someone invent a Customer Advisor app?

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