The Art of Complaining

I am away on set again, so the legendary Sam has nicely volunteered to write today’s post. To be honest, he’s way funnier than I am so you may never want me back. I’m glad he doesn’t have a blog. It would probably be better than mine and I’d cry and tell him that he’s why I can’t have nice things.
So here’s what he has to say:

I have a new hobby! It’s quite a strange hobby, and it has come somewhat out of the blue: complaining.

This is my complaining face, my new bad attitude.

Complaining is a very un-British activity. Traditionally, due to a deadly mix of politeness and stoicism, a British person will choose to accept the bad service, terrible food, rudeness, ill-manners presented to them and graciously pretend that everything is not only fine, but excellent, so as not offend. I have lived this way for many years, but for some reason over the last few months things have changed…

I remember in my youth that my Mum was a very active combatant in certain situations. If someone pushed in front of her in a queue she would let them know she was angry about it. Even if someone was a little slow in arranging their change when paying she would “tut” and roll her eyes. I think that this, rather than inspiring me to follow her example, actually pushed me the other way. I hate upsetting people or being seen to be ungrateful so I have avoided the conflict that accompanies complaining as much as possible.

However, when Amanda was away this summer I arranged for some flowers to be delivered to her as part of her birthday present. A lovely birthday surprise: she wakes up on her birthday, there’s a knock at the door, and she is presented with a lovely bouquet of flowers! Hooray! The service provided was top class apart from one thing: they delivered the flowers exactly one week early.

I complained, boy did I complain. I let them know that not only did they ruin the surprise, but that Amanda then thought that I’d forgotten when exactly her birthday was and that I was in big trouble. The company was actually very good and sorted me out a refund and an apology. However, they have now created a monster. I now LOVE writing complaint emails and take a huge amount of pride in them. I shall now have no fear in sending back food if it’s not quite as I ordered. I may even start telling people off in the street. Who knows where it will lead?

I know it is a hugely sweeping statement, but Americans are much more brave when it comes to this than we are. Maybe Amanda’s ways are slowly rubbing off?

Sam x

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  • Dee

    Hahaha! You’re right, Sam is funny indeed. 😛
    But so are you, so you make a lovely pair! Pleased to meet you, Sam. And I applaud complaining because I, too, stink in that department. I need to follow your example.

  • Emma C

    But I think that sometimes you have to complain, or the restaurant/company/whatever doesn’t know there is something wrong. My English husband will sit, paying good money for food he didn’t order for fear they will get upset or something. It’s all about HOW you complain – if you are an idiot they will get annoyed, and possibly spit in your food, but do it nicely and 99% of the time they will fall over themselves apologising.
    But then like Amanda, I’m not English..

  • Tami

    So great. A good complaint email does wonders to let you blow off some steam!

  • hahaha. Oh Amanda I love that you get Sam to write for you on occasion on your blog. I love this post so much. I have to say there must be something about the art of ‘not complaining’ that answers for why there is a huge difference between customer service in USA vs England. I will say being back in England now I do not complain or speak up as much as I would before. Honestly probably more so because of my accent and I do not want to stick out as a loud american. I tend to be way more laid back and go with the punches and live in the moment.

  • Tayler Morrell

    I love this. And, I love to complain! (Maybe it’s because I am American…) =)

    Our Fairy Tale

  • Claudz

    A good complaint is good!
    This was a great post, thanks Sam!

  • Treasure Tromp

    ha! this is hilarious! I complain in everyday life a bit too much (to myself or to my partner) but I get too nervous to do it to companies. I just roll over!

  • Rachel

    I’m sending this blog post to my husband because he’ll get a kick out of it. 🙂

  • Amanda, Sam could never take your place in blogging. Although, I have to admit, he is quite funny.

    Can I just say that when I was working in hospitality, I did not have good experience with brits. Okay, that’s not true. It was either they were super I-wish-everyone-was-like-this kind of nice or super freaken I-wish-you-would-get-out-of-my face RUDE. Maybe all it takes is one small moment, like flowers being delivered a week early, to make a Brit snap!

  • Mary Engdahl

    Funny post! I am an American moving to London, and you are right, I do often “speak my mind”. I am very thankful you have taught me this about British people as I will try to tone it down when I get there!

  • Belle Vierge

    I love guest posts by significant others! I have one that I just need to edit and add my introduction to. My bf surprised me with it last weekend. 🙂

  • Justine B

    Hehe after I got my first “win” from a complaint (probably something random like free french fries) I love to do it too! I only complain about fair things though, not ridiculous thing like I didn’t like the taste of my food or something that the place really can’t control!

  • Haley

    Nothing would ever be resolved if people didn’t complain. Yesterday I would have paid for an extra beer at lunch if I hadn’t complained to my waitress. I in fact, had 2 beer and not 3 because I would have been right pissed, rather than mildly buzzed!
    All of my life, I was always very nice and eager to avoid confrontation. But ya know what world?… If I stay nice when I should be a wee bit mean, I’d be an unhappy push-over.. Keep up the complaining Sam!

  • Ashton Kessler

    Oh Sam. Let’s be best friend and we can complain about thing all the time.

  • Megan C. Stroup

    Haha this is pretty funny. I enjoy complaint emails because companies will usually give you a little something just to keep your business. But in person or on the phone, it’s much harder for me to complain. I don’t like doing it to a “real” person, even though I obviously know a real person is out there somewhere reading my emails. I do try to be polite about it though!

  • Deidre

    I always talk big talk like “oh yeah, I’m going to go out and complain about that service…” but I rarely actually do it.

  • Sarah-Louise Bailey

    Haha that is fantastic – I’m a typical non-complaining Brit – in fact I squirm a lot when anyone wants me to even contemplate complaining eekk!!

    Thank you for link up with the I Love My Post Blog Hop

    Life in a Break Down

  • Holly G

    Oh, we Americans definitely win the gold medal in complaining. To be honest, there are times when I am proud of that and times when I am not. Thanks for a laugh this evening!

    Amanda, it’s lovely to “meet” you! I found your blog through the “Weekend Blog Block Party” and I am happy to be a new follower. Please come visit me sometime over @ Desert Momma!

  • Betsy Transatlantically

    haha I wrote a post a few years ago on the difference between moaning and complaining – and the Brits’ preference of the former and Americans’ proclivity to the latter! sounds like you’re rubbing off on Sam 😛