HOW TO COMPLAIN
Sometimes things go wrong when we travel, but there are better ways to respond than silently seething and then venting in a bad online review when you get home. Here’s what to do the next time your holiday doesn’t go to plan.
TALK TO SOMEONE
Tell someone as soon as you notice the problem. The staff may not even know there’s an issue that needs fixing and, once they do know, they have a better chance of rectifying the situation while you’re still there, rather than weeks later when you’re at home.
KEEP YOUR COOL
After a long journey tempers can fray faster than normal, but if you’re seeing red the person you’re talking to is less likely to see reason.
Members of staff and their managers will be more inclined to help if you remain friendly and understand their point of view too.
If you can’t get the solution you’d like to the problem, ask what else they might be able to do to help or what they would do if they were in your situation.
Remember, if things really do escalate and you end up in court it can work in your favour if you remained calm.
And before you march to the front desk, pause and ask yourself if your complaint is reasonable. If your room is dirty or the pool is full of algae, march away. If your off-season holiday doesn’t look like the peak season photos, you have less of a leg to stand on.
If the problem isn’t solved, start collecting your evidence for the next step. Take notes about the people you spoke to with dates, times and what was discussed, take photos or videos of the problem and keep all your receipts.
If there are witnesses, ask for their names and contact details.
Before complaining you should also check the notes on your booking and see what you really agreed to when you clicked “yes” in the terms and conditions box.
You wouldn’t be the first one to tick that box without actually reading the terms and conditions, and might be surprised to find the company had the right to do something from the start that now seems unfair.
PUT IT IN WRITING
If you’re still in the midst of the problem, a simple tweet may help speed a solution along. Some companies have customer support teams monitoring Twitter and are keen to keep problems off social media.
If you’re at home, you may now write that online review but you should also put a formal complaint in writing to the company.
Include the word “complaint” in the email heading or subject line, set out the problem clearly and concisely and include copies of relevant receipts and other documents, making sure to keep the originals.
Not sure what to write? The ACCC has complaint letter templates to help guide you through the process. ACCC.GOV.AU/CONSUMERS/COMPLAINTS-PROBLEMS/WRITEA-COMPLAINT-LETTER
CONSIDER YOUR LEGAL OPTIONS
If you’re not happy with your response, or didn’t get one at all, you can try legal action.
Your local community legal centre or lawyer might be able to give you some advice and some firms offer free initial consultations.
But this should only be a last resort. Not only can legal action be expensive with no guarantee the result will go in your favour, you’ll need to show you did everything reasonable to resolve the case before you decided to have your day in court.
So take a breath and start off with that faceto-face discussion when the problem first arises, and hopefully you’ll be having happy travels again in no time.