As a general rule I do not advocate complaining on the spot.  It is often far better to deal with the organ grinder rather than the monkey and a neatly composed letter to someone in authority is usually preferable.  Nevertheless, there are situations, particularly in a shop, when there is much to be said for complaining on the spot.  How should you go about do so?
  • For starters you should be firm but polite at all times.  If you descend into neanderthal abuse or worse, violence, this is very unlikely to advance your cause.
  • Starting your complaint with extreme politeness and a smile is probably the best way to win over the person on the other side of the counter.  Engage with them on a one-to-one level because they too have had a hard day and the last thing they need is an obnoxious customer.
  • Pick your fight carefully. If the issue is small or trivial then it will be better to deal with it there and then.  If it is a much bigger issue then you may well be better off taking your complaint to a higher authority such as the Managing Director at Head Office.
  • Do not be afraid to ask to speak to the manager or supervisor of the person behind the counter.  The lowly employee often has very little power or authority when it comes to refunds or exchanges so you may well find it easier to go above their heads – especially if you sense that you are being palmed off.
  • Do not be afraid to make a fuss and to do so very loudly.  The shop will be embarrassed if you are starting to affect other customers with your complaint so they may well decide to dispose of you and your issue very quickly if you whinge loudly enough.
  • Do not get fobbed off with the excuse that a defective item is an issue for the manufacturer rather than the shop.  When you buy something from a shop you have a contract with the shop and under that contract you have a legal right to demand goods that are of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose,  It is not good enough for the shop to say that they will pass your complaint on to the manufacturer or worse, suggest that you do so.
  • If all else fails do complain to head office but take a note of what was said on the spot and put down a marker as to the details – especially if the shop staff were abusive or impolite.