Wednesday, 29 April 2009

I can't complain - and my humans hate doing it

Do you complain? I can't of course - well not without breaking a few rules! Like poor Woody sufferring under Sid's magnifying glass, I would have to put up with anything. Sometimes I think I am very lucky to have such good natured humans. Then again, sometimes I remind myself there were lots of other Figaros in the Disney Store in Liverpool when Mikki bought me and she chose me because I was the best. Sometimes I wonder what happened to all my brothers in the store - but mostly I prefer not to think about that.

I really have no reason to complain. I have nice beds to lie on; I go on visits to Walt Disney World where I have my picture taken with other Disney characters; I travel with the humans most times they go out in the car for any distance; and so on. I leave any complaining to the humans.

In years long ago (I am told: I am not that old myself), this was one of the big differences between the British and Americans. Britons never complained: Americans did as a matter of principle. Britons could be served rubbish at a restaurant and would not say anything for fear of upsetting somebody. Americans would feel their evening wasn't complete without an argument about the bill (check). I don't know it that story was ever true of Americans, but things have changed in Britain. Some of the humans here complain all the time. Andrew had a colleague at work who never came back from holiday (vacation) without telling everyone how awful things were and complaining to the tour company. He always got something back and thought he was very clever!

My humans hate arguments and rows. Only occassionally they feel driven to complain - and sadly there have been several examples recently.

The first complaint was to the bank - Barclays. There is no problem with running the account but Barclays were also holding some shares (stocks) for my humans. They decided to move them to another broker and the process seemed unduly slow. Meanwhile the holdings wre frozen and the markets (you may have heard about this) were dropping through the floor. After several complaints to the bank, my humans wrote to a national newspaper. The end result was that the bank never really admitted they had been slow about the work but did acknowledge they had not handled the original complaints well. They gave Andrew some money and Mikki a hamper. I think Mikki was very sceptical when offerred a "luxury hamper" but it turned out to be jolly nice - as my photo shows. There were 3 bottles of wine (one sparkling) and lots of well known luxury brand food items. So, yes, they could have done better in the first place but thank you Barclays for taking some effort to handle the thing well in the end (and another big "thank you" to Jessica at the Sunday Telegraph).

Next came the AA (a British vehicle breakdown service. A bit like the AAA, I guess). Andrew's parents were members and after his father died his mother wanted to change the membership to her sole name. After many telephone calls by his mother, his brother and Mikki, Andrew wrote enclosing a photocopy of 5 of the new membership cards that had been issued so far while the AA tried to get the thing right! That got a nice apology, a rebate on Andrew's mother's membership and - perhaps best - some confidence things won't start again next year. So, a small "thank you" to the AA.

Finally was a well known British national charity to which my humans have been making payments every year. The humans were pretty well worn out with two complaints when they had a weird telephone call from a marketing company working for the charity. It was like one of those heavily scripted telesales calls. My humans have ways of dealing with "cold cals" of that sort. I am glad to say those ways do not (yet) involve putting me by the 'phone and telling the caller please to continue because someone is listening very carefully!

Anyway, this call resulted in a complaint which got a letter of reply full of the word "sorry" but actually revealing more things wrong. My humans can't be bothered to follow things up more. They are still undecided whether to find a different charity to support in future. Meanwhile, I think they need a little cheering up. Here I am for a cuddle.

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