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Wednesday, 17 October, 2001, 04:23 GMT 05:23 UK
Britons learn how to complain
Richard Wilson as Victor Meldrew in
Victor Meldrew, Britain's most famous complainer
Britons are shedding their reserved natures and turning into hot-blooded consumers - willing to argue at the drop of a hat and stand up for their rights, according to a new survey.

Whether it is too much pasta, the Channel tunnel rail link or too much chilli, who knows? We are becoming more "passionate".

More than half of people now complain all or most of the time if they are unhappy with a product - an increase of 12% in a year.

Complaining has become so prevalent, that two thirds of people now believe that we are better at it than before.

But it is age over youth and inexperience, which increases the chances of making a complaint according to this year's National Complaints Culture Survey (NCCS) .

Two thirds of those over 50 complain all or most of the time if they are dissatisfied, while the under 21s are the least likely to complain.

Regional divide

The North of England is a complaints "hotspot", where nearly two out of three people say that they make complaints all or most of the time.

Who complains most?
North: 65%
East Midlands: 55%
North West: 53%
East Anglia: 50%
South East: 49%
Yorks and Humberside: 48%
Scotland: 46%
West Midlands: 45%
South West; 45%
Greater London: 45%
Northern Ireland: 33%
Wales: 29%

While only one in three people complain regularly in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

New technology is also aiding the complaining "bug".

With more companies offering customer service via e-mail, complaints expressed in this way have risen by 350% this year.

Real benefits

Companies should take note of the findings - nearly all customers would recommend a company to their friends if a complaint had been resolved efficiently.

However, four out of five customers would spread the word if a complaint had been handled badly.

But not many companies seem to be listening to this customer service point.

Despite the rise in complaints, only one in four employees feel qualified to deal with them.

While only one in three customer-facing staff are actually trained to deal with angry customers.

See also:

25 Sep 01 | Scotland
Power firms accused of dirty tricks
03 Sep 01 | Health
Report damns NHS complaints
16 Aug 01 | UK
Passenger complaints soar
24 Sep 01 | Consumer
Making a financial complaint
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