The most effective ways to get results when complaining to a restaurant, bank, or telecom company without being labeled a “whiner” or worse are ignored

In Ireland, being able to effectively complain about substandard goods and services is not one of our strengths. Whining about a deal to Joe Duffy on Liveline is okay, as is arguing with strangers online. But anything that involves a little face-to-face confrontation? Not as much. Hell would freeze before many an Irish diner would tell a waiter who asked, “How was everything for you?” that their steak was as tough as old boots. Instead, we murmured “lovely,” silently vowed never to black out the door of this restaurant again, and then posted a scathing review on Twitter or TripAdvisor.

Many businesses know that we don’t like to complain and that we find it embarrassing and inconvenient,” says Dermott Jewell, Policy and Council Advisor to the Consumers’ Association of Ireland. “For example, if you’re trying to have a good time or improve your home, you don’t want to get into a standoff with someone. But if you make a complaint, go ahead and do it – if you go all out, you’ll see a brick wall go up.”

Before lodging a complaint with a company, make sure you know your consumer rights – the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) website is a good place to start. Recent legislation further strengthens your consumer protections and gives you more remedies if faulty goods or services are sold to you. Under the Consumer Rights Bill 2022, which went into effect this month, services such as construction, health, hotel accommodation and gym contracts are subject to consumer rights law and the Consumer Protection Agency has new enforcement powers.

How to make an effective complaint in a selection of industries:

In a restaurant

The most successful complaint in a restaurant is the one brought to the attention of staff on the spot, says Fergus O’Halloran, managing director of The Twelve, a Barna hotel which houses the West restaurant and Pins gastro-pub . Still, O’Halloran “spends a lot of time” following up complaints on TripAdvisor and Twitter, “figuring out who the person was and talking to them.”

“Most of the time, the complaints aren’t even real,” he says. “But the worst thing as a GM is reading a bad review, investigating it and realizing we didn’t have a chance to correct it.”

The hospitality industry says it “thrives” on “constructive criticism” to improve its product. However, there are right and wrong ways to complain. Guests who fail to raise complaints “in a calm, considerate manner” could risk being branded self-proclaimed whiners.

“There are nice and not-so-nice people out there,” says O’Halloran. “We don’t want the not-so-nice people. You will be banned.”

Losing your temper can also backfire spectacularly, as chat show host and actor James Corden found out last month when he was accused of misconduct by the owner of Manhattan restaurant Balthazar. Corden was briefly banned from Balthazar after the owner claimed on social media that the actor had been “extremely nasty” towards employees on two separate occasions, including threatening a bad Yelp review.

To a bank

If you’ve switched to a new bank from Ulster Bank and KBC, you know the frustration of being repeatedly put on hold with the new provider’s customer support team, only for the call to be dropped. Almost a quarter of the complaints the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO) received last year were actually about poor customer service.

If you have a direct contact at your new provider, try to speak to him in a branch. You may find that when you call them, the call is transferred to the customer service department. No matter how upset you feel, there’s no point directing your anger at the call center staff. Instead, explain the problem and tell them what solution you want, the CCPC recommends. Take notes on their answer. If that doesn’t work and your financial services provider is regulated by the central bank, they must have a complaints management system in place. If you make a formal complaint, do so in writing so you have a record of your correspondence.

“Describe what happened, the sequence, any dates, any phone calls you’ve already made or previous emails,” says Gráinne Griffin, director of communications at the CCPC. “Be polite but firm, present yourself as a reasonable person, and stick to the facts and your rights.”

The provider must acknowledge receipt of your complaint in writing within five working days, inform you of the progress of your complaint within 20 days and decide on your complaint within 40 working days. If you are not satisfied you can make a formal complaint to the FSPO. It is their job to resolve complaints about financial service providers and annuity providers, and they can direct a financial services company to compensate you if you have suffered a financial loss (though not in the case of an annuity provider).

Through a mobile, broadband or TV provider

Telcos have long faced public anger over their customer service, not least Eir. The arrival of the pandemic meant customer service representatives had to work from home, increasing customer wait times.

Customers are still suffering from the legacy of this problem: some told The Sunday Independent that although they spent 2020 hours on the phone trying to cancel an Eir broadband contract after being informed of a price increase, they were still being billed for a service they were not using. Earlier this month, Eir contacted those customers to say they had sold those outstanding balances to debt collector Stubbs Gazette.

Although Eir has tried to improve, it still has the highest average complaint rate among four fixed-line broadband providers, according to data from the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) for the third quarter. Eir had 14.5 complaints per 100,000 broadband connections, compared to 11 at Sky, 7 at Virgin Media and 8.1 at Vodafone.

If your service provider plans to increase their prices, they must give you 30 days’ notice and you can cancel your contract without penalty. All operators must have a code of conduct for handling complaints and provide a toll-free telephone number for consumers to contact, an email address or an online complaint form, and an address. It is best to complain in writing and enclose evidence. The company will then have 10 working days to reply before ComReg can act on your behalf.


The Communications Director of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), Gráinne Griffin

When all else fails, Small Claims works

If you’ve made a complaint and a company still won’t resolve the matter, consider the Small Claims Procedure – it’s a relatively inexpensive, quick and easy way to resolve a complaint without a lawyer.

The application fee is just €25 and you can claim online at The claim is then processed by a district court officer called the Small Claims Registrar and the service is provided by your local district court registry. If you are filing a lawsuit against a company, try to get the correct name and address from the Companies Registration Office website.

The Registrar will notify the Company that you are making a claim and the Company must respond within 15 days. If not, the district court will automatically treat your claim as uncontested and settle the amount claimed in your favor—all without you having to appear in court.

However, you can only use the small claims procedure up to a claim value of €2,000 or €5,000 for a claim against a company based in another EU country. The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission would like the domestic threshold to be raised.

“It doesn’t add up to the cost of living,” Griffin says. “For example, there are many laptops that cost more than 2,000 euros. We would also be aware of how many complaints we receive about used cars and many of these would not be caught by the small claims procedure even with a €5,000 cap.” The most effective ways to get results when complaining to a restaurant, bank, or telecom company without being labeled a “whiner” or worse are ignored

Fry Electronics Team

Fry is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button