Having Evidence When Complaining
As rules, regulations and red tape get ever more complex and entangling, the need for hard evidence to support a complaint is particularly vital.
Presenting a Serious ComplaintFor a complaint to be taken seriously it should always be supported by appropriate evidence. Without any back up, a complaint is just one person’s wild claim; unsubstantiated, unreliable and legally unsound. A complaint supported by times and dates, purchase receipts, photographs or names and contact details, presents a solid claim that is difficult to ignore.
A Holiday NightmareFor example if a package holiday has not turned out as advertised there are various ways in which a complaint could be backed up.
If the brochure promised an aspect that was never available then it should be kept and used as evidence. The tour operator may be in breach of contract if they did not provide a sufficient equivalent, and may even find themselves guilty of a criminal offence under the Trade Descriptions Act.
If the holiday incurred costs that should have been included in the package price then receipts for these payments should be kept. These will be necessary evidence to substantiate any subsequent money claims.
Other holidaymakers can make excellent witnesses if they are able to back up any complaint claims. It is therefore important to collect up names and addresses so they can be contacted when the complaint evidence is assessed.
The camera bought for taking some holiday snaps can be a very useful tool in recording poor facilities at a hotel. If the pool water is dirty, or the bedroom infested with insects for example, then clear photographs can provide irrefutable proof.
New TechnologyIn addition to the camera there are now a rich variety of recording technologies now accessible to the average person in the street, and which provide a great way for someone to support their complaints with high quality evidence.
The recent introduction of phones with the facility for taking photographs has had a particularly seismic effect on the way people can record their grievances. Cameras have of course been available to the average consumer for decades, but what has changed with the advent of the camera phone is that no longer is the camera just taken out for holidays and family functions, it is an everyday item, carried around in one’s pocket or handbag.
If someone is the victim of a terrible painting and decorating job, a flea-bitten B&B booking or a disastrous haircut, they can simply whip out their camera phone and record the evidence.
Recent advances in technological innovation have also made video cameras and handheld sound recorders cheap, easy to use and extremely portable. If someone has had miserable hotel stay on account of the loud noises coming from the next room, it is easy for others to experience the disturbance for themselves with the aid of such recording technology.
Expert AssistanceMore often than not, if the complaint is a reasonable one and supported by evidence then the trader puts it right without objection. Sometimes, however, there are instances when the trader disputes the claim, and denies the fault lies with them but the customer cannot prove them wrong.
Legally it is the customer, and not the trader, that must prove the fault is the manufacturer’s and not their own. If they have no evidence to support this then they may choose to get the opinion of an independent expert. This could be used to either prove the claim to the trader to try to change their mind and settle the dispute, or to prove the customer’s case to a court. Trade associations for the appropriate business – such as mechanics, plumbers or builders – provide good places for finding local experts.