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How to stop dissatisfied customers coming after you!

Unhappy customerArriving at a holiday cottage in Cornwall with “stunning sea views and everything you could want for a relaxing holiday” imagine my disappointment to find that it was actually on a main road. The noise from the traffic was worse than at my home in London! In fact it was quieter in London than in Cornwall!

So I set out about trying to change the booking. First port of call: the holiday company’s terms of business. Luckily they had a section on how to change or cancel a booking, although nothing on how to change it once you were in the property which in turn led to all sorts of arguments.

This little incident highlights how even if you are confident that you provide the best service or products ever, you must play devils’ advocate and imagine what could possibly go wrong when one of your clients enters into a transaction with you. I would recommend you start a spread sheet or table and, thinking through the transaction in chronological order- from the point of first contact with the client to the last, list in a column all of the things that could go wrong or that could simply influence the deal. Then in the next column, list the clause in your t’s& c’s that sets out what has to happen in that situation. If you don’t have a clause, then you need one or at least a sentence that explains what will happen

Taking my holiday cottage booking as an example, here are the steps you would list:

Before holiday starts:

Contract clause/rule

Information on website/brochure is wrong Offer apology or disclaimer for accuracy of photos
Customer wants to cancel a booking Cancellation withing 10 days of start date-no refund

Cancellation within 20 days: 50% refund

Customer wants to change a booking date or party size or property Charge admin fee of £5o
Customer fails to pay Interest to be charged at 3% above base rate until payment is made and no access to property

During holiday:

Customer is disappointed and wants to change Treat as one off and only allow in exceptional circumstances
Customer is injured in property Company insurance policy to apply
Customer damages the property Forfeit deposit + right to charge for any shortfall

After holiday

Return of deposit Once property checked and all clean and complete-within 10 days of vacating property

Hopefully your ‘complaints clauses’ will never be used, but at least you can relax knowing you have addressed all possible issues.

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