How to Complain Effectively

complain effectively

I have only just started complaining about things. Usually I’d just stay quiet about things that weren’t working or up to par, but I’m gaining more confidence with effective complaining.

Here’s what I’ve found works.

– Be polite.

– Be specific about what the issue has cost you.

For example, “I’m a blogger and I’ve lost an hour of working time because the wifi has been down.” (I don’t say I’m a travel blogger, just blogger).

– Know what you’d like them to do to rectify the issue.

For example, you’d like them to please reset the router. Clearly state what you’d like them to do. You might ask them to call you back when they’ve done it.

– Know what you’d like as compensation.

Compensation is different from them fixing the issue. Sometimes you really just care about compensation because it’s too late for fixing the issue to be useful to you.

For example,

– you’d like to check out later so that you can wait to start work until they fix the wifi. Therefore you’d like a later checkout.

– you’d like a stay another night at a discounted rate.

– you’d like them to refund your resort fee.

– you’d like some complimentary frequent flyer points.

– a full refund.

– Complain to the right person.

For example, the front desk probably can’t authorize a super low rate. Ask to speak to the manager.

Customer service agents or flight attendants can’t do much usually.

Do your best to figure out who can authorize the compensation you are requesting, and then find their contact info. For example I recently got a problem sorted by emailing Priceline’s executive services email address. I hadn’t been able to solve the problem via multiple back and forth emails with the normal customer service email.

– Know what you can complain about.

For example, I managed to get a Priceline booking refunded because a pool was listed as a guaranteed amenity but when I arrived, the pool was closed. (Note that Hotwire state that pools may be seasonal so had this mean Hotwire, I would’ve been outta luck).

– Have objective evidence.

For example, do a speed test if you’re going to complain about the wifi. Report the specific results of the speedtest and mention how the hotel specifically describe the wifi as “high speed” on their website. I also mentioned that I had read multiple reviews about the wifi being an issue, so I knew it wasn’t a one time issue (I tried to say this in a way that I was empathizing with them about their problem rather than being a grump).

In the Priceline example above, I had a screenshot of my booking confirmation saying a pool was a guaranteed amenity.

What are your best tips for effective complaining?

Want to share a story about something you’ve complained about, how you did it, and the compensation you got?



  1. // Reply

    Thankfully, I haven’t had to complain too much, but one time we were scheduled for a tour (in Aruba) through the cruise line and the tour fell short of what was described. We were supposed to spend an hour at each snorkel site, and we only spent 30 minutes in one, and 20 minutes in another. The boat appeared to only be running with one engine on this tour, so it seemed we were traveling a lot more slowly than we should have been. We did complain to the cruise line and managed to get a 30% refund. We were kinda hoping for 50% so maybe we should have stated this ahead of time. I find it is best when you are polite, calm and state your problem…if you are friendly and understanding, chances are the person you are complaining to will listen and hear you out! If you start off all angry, they likely won’t be as cooperative. Great post!

    1. // Reply

      Great example. I think it’s helpful for other people to hear these real examples so they can be prepared for if they’re in a similar situation.

  2. // Reply

    Sometimes complaining even to the right person will not achieve anything! I believe in stating the problem to staff either way, so hopefully issues are rectified for others in the future. Unfortunately some businesses as just so bad no amount of complaining does anything. And that’s where trip advisor comes in handy!

  3. // Reply

    I complained at our hotel in Halong Bay Vietnam because our boat tour was not what they had promised us. We got 15% back from the cost of the trip and they upgraded our room for our last night! Always make sure you’re polite when you complain and be considerate.

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