Sometimes it pays to complain, as Sheena Grant has discovered

Reclaim credit accrued on your household bills

Reclaim credit accrued on your household bills - Credit: Archant

I should have known it wouldn’t be that straightforward.

My energy company had £250 of my cash and I wanted it back.

I asked, very politely, if the money that had accumulated in my ‘budget account’ over the last few months (I wasn’t using as much gas and electricity as I had been paying for by monthly direct debit) could be returned and was assured it would be repaid to my bank account within 14 working days.

Fifteen working days later it still was not there so I phoned again to enquire, very politely, what had happened to it. This time I was told it would be there by the next day. Being the non-confrontational type I refrained from pointing out that they had reneged on their original 14-day promise. No matter, I thought. If it was about to be repaid that was good enough.

A weekend and two working days later it still wasn’t there. I was starting to get cross now. It was my money, after all.

This time I thought it best to put something in writing and penned an irritated email to their complaints department, in which I spoke of withholding further payments and taking the complaint further.

It seemed to do the trick. The next day I had a phone call and email from them, apologising and saying they would repay me not just what I was owed but £10 more for all the inconvenience I’d had.

As a nation, we don’t like to complain when we’re not treated quite as we ought to be. But sometimes, it’s the only way. And £10 may not be much but at least it’s an acknowledgement of poor service.

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I got a similar amount, in the form of a gift card, from a major retailer a few months ago when I ordered a present online. After receiving a text message to say it had been delivered to my local store I went to pick it up, only to be told the text was wrong and it hadn’t yet arrived. Several phone calls later it turned out my item had been there all along, hidden behind another package. So back I went, on a second 10-mile round trip, to get it.

Two complaints on I’ve lost my embarrassment about speaking up. Thriftiness demands nothing less.

Email or tweet using #ThriftyLiving.