Saturday, March 27, 2010

The art of complaining

Things eventually came to an amicable end after an absolute palaver that lasted months. My allegiance with Alliance and Leicester bank has finally ended positively after months of unnecessary wrangling with the company.

Some time last year, (I forget exactly when) I withdrew a little too much money from an ATM here and wasn't aware of it for a few days. The fluctuating exchange rates didn't help matters. After a few days my mother in England noticed I was in overdraft by a tiny 54 pence and immediately credited my account with one pound sterling.

However, from here, things deteriorated drastically as I was hit with overdraft charges of five pounds per day in overdraft. Stupidly, Alliance and Leicester didn't take one bit of notice to the fact I had deposited the one pound to cover the slight overdraft. They continued to stamp me with charge after charge until, unbelievingly, I was apparently in over two hundred pounds of debt!

I sent a number of emails to the bank boldly explaining my predicament and flatly refusing to pay a penny for such ridiculous charges. My mum also helped out by composing a couple of solid letters to further reinforce our position in these unfair charges.

The bank not once replied one of my secure messages, instead posting threatening letters to my home in England declaring that if I didn't cough up these exorbitant fees they would take me to court. But we remained firm, knowing that a court would surely laugh at a two hundred pounds plus charge over a measly 54 pence!

We didn't hear from the bank for a while until I finally received word from my mum that Alliance and Leicester had waived all charges! Rather cheekily, they also wanted to know if I would be keeping my account open with them. (I had previously cancelled my account on line so that no further charges could be added). For the record, I surely stand by my original decision. Alliance and Leicester have caused me nothing but trouble since I moved to Malaysia and I'm glad to see the back of them.

My message today is that we are perfectly within our rights as customers, clients and consumers, to complain if we are not satisfied. I remember back when I was a child, my mum made a complaint about something or other concerning a chocolate bar. We received a nice letter of acknowledgement and regret from the company together with some free chocolate. (Mum, please correct me if my memory is fading!)

We have a right to make complaints in order that we as the recipients of certain services may receive the quality that companies guarantee, and also that the company involved may analyse its services and seek for improvement. The last thing a company wants is unhappy customers!

I'm thrilled that my complaints were eventually heeded and common sense won the day after a long journey. Imagine the outrageous fees I would have been required to pay if I hadn't complained and let my voice be heard!

I now settle for the much more hassle-free service of international money transfer through Western Union, which is quick and easy to use, and carries no extra usage fees.

So remember, if you're not satisfied, complain!!!


  1. I like this very much and I too am glad it's all over.
    Yes I remember writing to a chocolate company-I think some chocolate was missing from a Crunchie or a Kit Kat. They sent us some vouchers I believe which were well received.
    I'll scan the letter from the bank.
    The customer is always right!

  2. Thanks for sharing the information about the complaining brother.... yeah! I do agree about your story... Actually, these thing had happen to me but in other situation which is in term of services.... Roughly, all the Malaysian people is not aware of their "Right". Why? In my opinion, we as a country that still growth is lack of the our own right compare to your country, England which is already Modern...

    Furthermore, a lot of Malaysian people are not exposed with a information about the RIGHT... so, what do Malaysian people need is....EDUCATION and INFORMATION about Malaysian people should stand firm with their RIGHT... Don't KEEP QUIET!!

  3. Thanks for the letter, mum. I'm delighted that we won!
    And thanks for the extended comments, Abigail. It does seem that many Malaysians don't take any form of criticism very well at all, instead taking offence. It is, however, a very productive way of self-analysing and making changes for the better. I'm delighted that the bank in mention was able to see that eventually, and while I have spoken against them in the energy of my soul, I must extend gratitude to them for eventually seeing eye-to-eye with me.

  4. I am led to believe that the anonymous commenter was not, in fact, 'Abigail'. My apologies.


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