The Complaining Cow
I am Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow. A slightly odd title to give oneself perhaps, but it is what I do. I run a blog, The Complaining Cow, demonstrating how to make, prevent and deal with complaints effectively and positively.
I have been effectively complaining for over 30 years, since the age of 12. In 2012 I started the blog as a hobby. I frequently get refunds and redress for friends and family as well as myself. The blog started with stories about poor service and how I had gained redress. It soon developed as I started to write posts providing tips on how to complain and Acts of law most commonly needed to cover most things as I saw it possible to assist others in standing up for their rights.
I took Tesco to court. It was Christmas 2012 and their double up vouchers didn’t work online. I was told to pay by credit card and that I would be reimbursed. Despite much correspondence from me and use of social media to try and get them to do so, I failed. So I took them to court and I won. The amount of people who commented on my post and emailed me to say that the same thing had happened to them but they hadn’t done anything about it for one reason or another was remarkable. For me, it is the principle of the thing – it took much longer than the redress gained warranted hourly rate wise! But I took on a fight for the consumer. At court I told the judge that I thought it was important for someone to stand up to a large corporation. I will never forget Judge Yokes looking up at me, smiling and saying “Good for you, I will award you an additional £50 for Tesco being unreasonable”. (You can’t get redress for inconvenience). The story got picked up by The Observer and BBC Breakfast.
In my stance on complaining effectively I also took on Iain Duncan Smith and recorded the experience. Although neither I nor anyone I know is directly affected by his policies, that could change at the flick of a switch and in any case I wanted to stand up for people who were unable or unwilling to challenge him face to face. It was a struggle to get a surgery with him and more than a struggle to get a second one! I found him arrogant and totally out of touch with reality. My telling him that he didn’t need social skills to be on social media (he isn’t) went straight over his head I feel.
This hobby has turned into quite an experience. Alongside a number of media appearances on national TV and being in national, regional and local press/radio, I have been invited to talk at a conference in December on customer service. Interesting that other speakers include companies talking about how good their service is. It isn’t and I shall tell them. I have also met with the new Tesco CEO. Having absolutely slated his predecessor a number of times on my blog it was fun to meet the new one! Over two hours of telling him where Tesco was going wrong! I directed Dave to my Facebook page where I had invited people to list their Tesco complaints. If he takes all those complaints on board perhaps there will be the most effective change of all!
How it Started – Chewing the Cud
About 30 years ago, when I was about 12 years old I started a school magazine. I got a couple of friends together and we sold each copy for 10p!… read more
As The Complaining Cow increased in popularity, so has the number of people asking for advice through the blog, Facebook and Twitter. Unfortunately, it just isn’t possible to deal in detail with every enquiry but if people give a brief overview and ask (politely!) for advice, e.g. what law to use, then I’m happy to help and obviously, Twitter is brief! Tips on my blog and YouTube channel should also help.
In response to this increase, I also wrote a book entitled How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Refunds, Redress and Results! Providing real examples of how I have successfully complained, tips, templates and advice for numerous sectors, I was really chuffed when Paul Lewis, the financial journalist from BBC Moneybox, wrote a fantastic review and tweeted that it was the best book on complaining he had read. Since the launch, the response has been phenomenal.
I write lots of guest blog posts and articles regarding consumer issues in the hope that more people assert their legal rights, gain redress and demand better service!