Content and Delivery in your complaint.


Greetings to all.


Complaints with humour can work wonders on the simplest things and save you money. Complaints with a little humour can sometimes take the edge off of the negativity often associated with any complaint.

I can refer it back to it’s not what you say; it’s how you say it. If you are yelling and screaming or being sarcastic or being condescending or just being an ass when you are communicating with anyone in life, I suggest you won’t get very far. You certainly won’t get what you want to save money or make money or at the very least you will hurt your chances. And you’re being an ass!!


This goes for leaders of big companies, politicians and really it goes for all of us. It goes for all of us in order to be a good person. The content and the delivery when you are communicating with anyone I believe, is the key. The content is very important; how you deliver it is crucial. Complaining doesn’t make you a bad person, how you actually complain can.


A visit I had to Starbucks last year illustrates humour, content and delivery quite nicely, albeit on a small-scale and albeit I didn’t make or save tonnes of money but it worked.


I went through a local Starbucks drive thru and got my usual, a triple tall Americano with no room.  (for non-Starbucks people that’s a black coffee with 3 shots of espresso!!) Mm mmmm, I was so looking forward to my first sip. On this day I didn’t follow my rule of, take a sip before you pull away from the drive thru. I drove away, put my window up because it was freezing outside, I waited for traffic to clear, I pulled out into traffic and then I drove to the first light, but it was green so I kept driving, my triple tall Americano was in my drink holder waiting for me. Finally I hit a red light; I opened my coffee and took a sip. SUGAR! There was sugar in my coffee! I ordered no room, which, again, is fancy for black at Starbucks. It sucked! Yes I could have opened it sooner, before the first green light when I was closer to the Starbucks and possibly could have went back but I didn’t. Probably because I didn’t take my first sip at the drive thru window like I usually do. I was past the point of no return to go back. Needless to say I didn’t turn around, I drove on to my destination without my triple tall Americano with no room.


Some of you may have turned around and fixed the issue quite nicely. Some of you may have complained at their next visit but I’d like to suggest that many people would just bitch to their friends about getting screwed at the drive thru and that would be the end of it. No getting your money back or a free coffee at a future visit.


The next time I went to that Starbucks I didn’t just complain. I didn’t just say “you screwed up my coffee last time.”  No, I shared my events with the barista, “imagine you drive thru your favourite coffee house, you have been looking forward to your favourite coffee all morning and you order it, the nice barista gives you your coffee, you don’t sip it at the drive thru window like you usually do (why sip it at the drive thru?  because as Joe Pesci said many years ago in Lethal Weapon, “they F*** you at the drive thru”). I continue with the barista sharing that of course on this day I hit green lights, can you imagine green lights after I pull out from yes, your Starbucks. All I wanted was a red light so I could take my first sip. Imagine you finally hit a red light (weird hoping for a red light) and imagine you take your first sip and there is sugar in your no room triple tall Americano!”


Well, she understood without me even asking for a complimentary coffee. She offered one up with no hints from me, just my tale of woe. I kind of saved money because, as I suggested, many people would not have shared that story with the barista and many would have just paid for another coffee and it was a couple days later when I was back at the same Starbucks. One further thing I did was say, “I certainly wouldn’t refuse or even argue with you if you wanted to give me a complimentary coupon for my next coffee considering the horror I went through.” Bingo, a little humour and she gave me 2 complimentary coupons, not just 1! All in the delivery folks. I didn’t control the circumstances of the incident, I guess I controlled the content as to what I said but I definitely controlled my delivery and saved money!


When I am complaining I am always professional and polite. I inject humour in person and also in correspondence when appropriate. I try and get the person I am dealing with to imagine themselves in my situation. In letters or emails for more serious and significant complaints I often ask the question after or during my explanation of the complaint  “Is this unreasonable Mrs. XXX” or similar question such as “Being the President, wouldn’t you expect a higher level of service Mrs. XXX or How would you feel if it were you in my situation?”


More on how to write complaint letters, emails and what content to include in order to improve your chances to get results, to get what you want to make money by saving money in future posts.


One last quick example of a complaint, not really a full-blown complaint but an underlying one. Our daughter had lice recently. Yes lice! Yuck! Fact of life unfortunately, right dads and moms?


We wanted to use a chemical free treatment and not a home remedy. We found a company nearby that had organic treatments and they also provided inspection of your child’s head for lice, or your own head or anyone’s head! I am pretty pathetic in checking for lice and eggs. As a precaution my wife wanted her head checked but she wasn’t confident I would do a good job. Go figure! She wouldn’t take the chance with me missing something on her head so she called the company.

My wife spoke to a representative of the company I mentioned above. She received a price for her head to be checked. She went and got it done but the price was higher, approximately $25 I believe. She discussed it and paid for it, as the explanation seemed reasonable at the time.


A couple of days later we had to go back and pick up the non-chemical treatments. My wife re-explained the issue with the price difference, as we were about to pay for the treatments. The person said that the price she was charged was proper and that the price on the phone was incorrect and she apologized for the mistake. I sensed that all we were going to get was the apology. So here I go, as she was entering the items into the cash, I said “I certainly won’t argue with you or fight with you if you wanted to take $25 off of the bill for the mix up. It certainly wouldn’t hurt you in my positive word of mouth business I’d like to share for your business.” 


I was polite, smiling, and somewhat funny, she didn’t take the money off but she gave us the same dollar value in some product we didn’t buy but had wanted too. Made money by saving money!

If you start to use my essential rules of complaining and adapt to a mental state of “why settle” coupled with positivity, humour and effective communication you too may make money by saving money. These 2 examples are basic, the concept applies to bigger and more substantial complaints.




Change brings opportunity.

Nido Qubein