Bad service is often a feature of modern life, but simply putting up with it means it will never get any better. It takes time and effort to write to a company expressing dissatisfaction, but it remains the most effective way of trying to improve things.
I've featured a couple of complaint letters in recent weeks, one about poor bus service and the other about Qantas' poor communication during the recent European flight disruption. Those posts proved rather polarising for some readers, with a few arguing that the complaints themselves were ineffective and that there was no place for them on Lifehacker. (I obviously don't agree with that, but a big part of the point of having a blog which allows comments is to allow different viewpoints to be expressed.)
What is worth noting is that in both cases there have been follow-ups and results. Qantas sent a letter (by Express Post, no less) from head of customer care Justin Hyams to every customer on the affected flight I travelled on, acknowledging that its communication processes needed some major improvement no matter what else was happening at the time:
I would also like to convey my sincere apologies for the significant waiting time you experienced at Heathrow airport and the lack of communication you received during the day. As you can imagine, the situation was continually evolving as we managed with circumstances beyond our control in London. However, I certainly regret that we did not keep you better informed during the delay.
As for National Express, while its response was rather less speedy, it was even more substantial: the company has offered to refund the fares for the affected segment, which seems an entirely appropriate response. The lesson for everyone? Letting companies know that there are problems remains an important step to getting better service and products.