When should you complain about something you’ve purchased in a supermarket?

Some people feel embarrassed or even scared of complaining to a company, never be scared! Someone in that company actually cares about you, so let them know!

Warning: You should only complain when something is genuinely wrong, if you complain every time you buy something in the hope of a freebie, you ruin it for everyone else & we’ve seen people banned from shops nationwide for taking the p*ss.

► So when should I complain?

  • If you buy something and it’s rubbish/not as described etc
  • If you were treated poorly, i.e. staff were rude, not helpful or someone/thing made you feel embarrassed.
  • If you tried to return an item and couldn’t because of a stupid rule i.e. Tosco* selling all console games open, so you can’t take them back!
  • If you were overcharged & especially if labels in store were different to the price you paid.
  • If you buy something and it doesn’t work (even after the normal 1 year warranty).

► Remember (most) companies are thankful for complaints

If a company can find out where it might be going wrong, then (generally) they will be more than approachable on the subject, of course it will depend on who you speak to, a part-time new member of staff might not give a toss compared to a full time supervisor. So generally ask for a supervisor/manager etc

Remember (generally) companies want to keep you happy so you spend more money with them!

► What am I likely to receive?

  • A written apology, a good start.
  • Some goodwill vouchers/credit/freebies
  • A full refund + keep the item + credit note (i.e. they pay you to buy). The best and also known as a ‘double boom’.

► How do I complain?

Most large companies have contact forms on their websites, phone numbers to ring or even facebook pages.

First of all don’t go public with the complaint if you can help it, just send them a private email/message etc.

You should always go through the normal complaints departments especially for larger companies (so you can at least say you’ve tried).

► What seems to work best?

1) Give a full description of the issue

2) Explain how this made you feel

3) Explain that you want to be told what is going to be done about the problem

4) Explain how you felt after the problem, i.e. amazed it could happen, sad that you were treated that well.

5) Explain your previous customer loyalty if any.

6) Provide evidence if applicable, i.e. a photo, details of people involved, if it’s a lengthy complaint ensure from the start you’ve been noting dates/times etc (easy to remember at the time but not easy 3 months later on).

7) Always always always include your full postal address in any emails/contact forms/letters etc. Saves them having to ask for it if they want to send you some freebies.

8) If a company has forced you to be out of pocket, then create an invoice (we made this to help http://10ws.co/1mJTzcN) and attach it to your letter, we’ve seen lots of big companies just pay these without that many questions.


Being funny but putting your point across can work wonders.

► What happens if I don’t get a reply or you’re still unhappy?

1) Send another email/message etc, companies are busy places and sometimes emails can go missing.

2) Send a formal written letter in the post (you know those red box things).

3) Contact the Managing Director or someone at the top of the business, you can normally guess their email address if it’s not publicly available.

i.e. David Wilson from Vodafone might be

[email protected] or [email protected]
*David Wilson is made up

Just remember even some CEOs / MDs may not be very helpful http://10ws.co/1mJTq9r
This site is a good LAST RESORT > http://10ws.co/1mJTXrW

4) Make it formal (bring in legal aid) or/and take them to small claims court. Remember this is slightly risky if you’re not 100% sure you can win. Obviously this is only going to be for a select amount of cases, no need to do this over a packet of crisps etc but if it’s several hundred quid or more it might be a good option.

5) Make it public and tell the world!
Should only do this once you’ve exhausted every other option.

Burnt loaf of bread, message to the company = £3 gift card - Thanks to Finola

Burnt loaf of bread, message to the company = £3 gift card – Thanks to Finola

► Few examples:

1) PS3 game refunded + got to keep it

A member of the team’s girlfriend purchased him a PS3 game from a local Tosco* store, problem was he had ordered it from Amazon the day before (at a much lower price) and forgot to mention it.

The girlfriend tried to take the game back to Tosco* but was told no refunds as the games packaging was open. Problem is most if not all Tosco* stores sell games with open boxes i.e. no cling film around the box.

The girlfriend explained the situation & was still refused, but this time in a manner that was not polite, she felt embarrassed & left the store.

After mentioning this to the boyfriend, he followed the tips above and contacted Tosco* for an explanation, a customer service manager rang the next morning, apologised for the issue & without hesitation offered a full refund with no need to return the game. Two days later got a gift card in the post.


2) Tyrells crisps

So we purchased a pack of crisps, it was 1/4 full. We felt a bit short changed (to say the least).

We complained (with photos, address, details etc)

About a week later we got an email reply and a box full of crisps.


3) BT (3 months free + 100mb fibre internet + various apologies + direct phone number to high level complaints for future).

Very boring story but we got lied to, told we would be getting 300mb fibre internet etc, ended up with 4mb option only. Had an awful time of ringing various departments etc

After all of that we eventually decided to email the MD of BT, boom within a day we had a member of high level complaints doing all the ringing around for us and sorting it all out.

The key to this was giving them as much information as possible & asking for names every time we spoke to someone on the phone.

The problem got solved and we got 3 months for free + expenses of getting internet from elsewhere.


4) Pizza Hut (replacement pizza + free cake + letter of apology)

We ordered two pizzas, one came undercooked but we only found out once we had arrived home, we rang them up they refused to send a new one out. So we had to go and pick up another one. They gave us a new pizza and a free cake. We got home and the base still wasn’t completely cooked! grrrrr! We gave up and put it in the oven (wasn’t great but was ok). Wrote an email (including photos) and only got an apology, nothing else! We won’t be going back to that place again.

► Have you complained recently? What happened?

Have you ever complained? Were you successful in getting compensated?

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