It pays to complain. Whether it is the telephone company or the restaurant where you eat. You are entitled to a certain standard of service and quality of products. If you do not get what you paid for and you accept it without raising the issue, it is your own fault and you deserve the shoddy treatment that you will get everywhere you go. I have noticed this over and over again, that the moment you turn around and ask for better service, or for the complaint book, you get it immediately. And the reason why the overall quality and standards in our country are so low is that we are not used to complaining. I don’t know whether it is the colonial mindset or our inherent good nature. Or meekness. Whether the meek inherit the earth or not, they will definitely end up receiving poor service.

The reasons why the demand for better service or for the complaint book promptly improves the standards of service are very clear. Logically, no company or its management would want to offer anything but the best to its customers and patrons. Nor would they like to risk adverse publicity, as brought about by dissatisfied customers.

However, irrespective of the lofty mission statements and values propounded by the higher management, the public face of such companies are grass root level employees, either of the company itself, or of its franchisees. Now, unless the company is really very particular about the service standards (and most companies I have noticed are not, or at least are not able to ensure such standards even if they are), there is a major disconnect between the stated ideals and the practical delivery on ground. Thus the front end employees attempt to get along with doing the bare minimum work.

Often even the franchisees cut corners to improve their bottom-line. To them the importance of retention of brand loyalty is not as important as immediate profits. Result is the poor service that we experience all around us. And the moment such poor service is likely to be brought to the notice of the higher authorities, the change in reactions is palpable. Complaint books and feedback is likely to be perused by higher management, and would bring to their notice the shortcomings in the service provided by the staff or franchisee, something that might have severe consequences.

The sad part is that most of us who are at the receiving end of poor service or even sub-standard products chose not to complain. We are either so used to indifferent service, or don’t want to waste our precious time in something that we feel will be of no avail. At times our good nature may also prevent us from complaining. But the point is that such complaints will ensure people who come after us, and even to us the next time if we choose to come back, will get better service.

In India, very few people choose to complain because they are used to an apathetic system, and feel that complaining will be of no avail. However, of late things have started changing, as more and more people become aware of their rights and consumer activitism becomes stronger in India. Another reason people often don’t complain is because they don’t know whom to approach in case the direct service provider does not heed to their complaint. Here are some useful links for those who want to raise issues about the service provided to them.

Portal for redressal of grievances relating to all government departments.

National Consumer Redressal Commission – For all consumer related issues.

If more and more of us take to demanding value for the money we spend, we will help in engendering an overall culture of better service. So, the next time you go to a restaurant and the AC is not working, or air pump at the gas station is out of order, take the time out and ask for the complaint book. You might be pleasantly surprised to find things that were supposed to be out of order suddenly start working.