/ Food & Drink, Shopping

Complain for change: how I took a bite out of Eat

We’re starting a new series of Conversations that we’re calling ‘complain for change’ – we think you should be proud to tell companies when they’ve got it wrong. What does it take for you to make a complaint?

Are there some things you just wouldn’t bother to complain about?

With the recent criticism that Three Mobile levelled at its customers who complained, you’d be forgiven for not bothering.

But the Which? Consumer Rights team thinks it’s always worth making your feelings known – no matter how small the company transgression.

I love cheese. I especially love very strong flavoured cheese. So, when I spotted a mature cheddar cheese sandwich in my local branch of Eat, I thought ‘that’s the sandwich for me’.

But oh, how wrong I was. After the first disappointing bite, I knew their definition of mature cheese was nothing like mine. ‘Mature cheddar’ the sandwich claimed. ‘Tasteless fodder’ my palate countered.

After begrudgingly finishing the flavourless sandwich and feeling utterly dissatisfied with my lunch, I headed back to the office and promptly emailed an indignant letter of complaint to Eat.

Tackling complaints in a mature fashion

Now, you may think me a curmudgeonly malcontent for complaining about something so trivial – and, on the whole, I’d have to agree with you. But, it’s the principle that’s at stake here. If something is labelled one thing and it turns out to be something else, then you’ve got me riled – no matter how insignificant it may seem.

When I hungrily tucked into my mature cheddar cheese sandwich and my palate was assaulted by a bland bit of bread playing host to a tasteless slab of cheese, I was incandescent. Actually, no, I’m getting carried away with myself here. Let’s just say I was a tad displeased.

To give credit where it’s due though, I did receive a very apologetic response from Eat, offering me a voucher as a gesture of goodwill. And once I sent them my address, the £5 voucher promptly arrived on my doorstep, for which I am most appreciative.

What gets you to complain?

But, my question is this – how bad does something have to be before you’ll complain? A recent survey by online research companies Andrew Smith Research and Research Now, found that 30% of people didn’t complain, even once, to a company over the last year.

Now, this could mean that these people had no cause for complaint. But from previous Which? research, we know that many people don’t complain because they can’t be bothered or, they don’t think it’s worth it.

The survey also found that the number of serial complainers – those making more than ten complaints in a year – has fallen in the last couple of years. Are you one of those who’s let complaining go off the boil? Or will you join me in being a proud serial complainer?


Our hard-working Fellowes office shredder died after we had owned it for over eighteen months of a two-year guarantee. We contacted the firm by phone. A complaint form arrived by fax within the hour, we returned it the same day and a replacement shredder was delivered two days later. No arguing, no quibbling. It’s nice to get service like this once in a while.


Have to post a follow up to my previous moan – John Lewis definitely came through with flying colours in the end. They acknowledged ‘solid oak’ bed was not as described and refunded the money. That is the kind of service that gives me confidence to keep shopping there.

fed up shopper says:
5 November 2014

My complaint is relating to something I thought was outlawed some years ago.
I try to use the £/k but they always mix these up with price per item. The mutipack of quavers was priced per item in the small writing as they don’t really want you looking here. Many of the other mutipacks were £/k. I asked the staff to tell what the £/k was and 3 of them spent 15mins working it out for me. Their calculations were wrong!
The staff had based their sums on the weight of a single bag of quavers as the multi pack only said how many bags were in it, not giving a weight on each of the bags or the overall weight. The bags actually smaller in the multi pack and so once again the word Swindled came to my mind.
Why is shopping so difficult still.
I haven’t even started on these so called special offers which I saw last night which were 10 times more expensive than those not on the offer.
How can I tackle this scullduggery that shoppers are still being subjected to, can anyone advise please.