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The Complaint


									The complaint
The Situation
The Ski-Fun Travel Agency organises winter sports holidays for people aged 18 to 30. The holidays
are at the lower end of the price range so all costs are kept to a minimum. Charter flights take the
holiday-makers out to Italy, then a coach transfers them to their resort in the mountains.
Accommodation is in chalets. Meals are provided by 'chalet girls' who are recruited in Britain each
season and are usually college students.
You are a representative for Ski-Fun in an Italian resort with ten chalets for 120 holiday-makers. It
is your job to meet each group of new arrivals at the resort and show them their chalets. You also
help with any problems like sports-equipment hire or medical care, and generally make sure they
enjoy their holiday.
This is the second winter season you have worked for Ski-Fun. The rest of the year you do
freelance translation work in London, and you look forward to the change of life-style and extra
income that the winter brings. One of your duties is to deal with complaints from holiday-makers.
There are always a few of these, usually about the standard of cooking in the chalets but, in
general, people have such a good time together that they soon forget the minor problems. Re-
bookings and personal recommendations have allowed Ski-Fun to expand very quickly in its four
years of operation.

1. Today, twenty-four hours after arriving in the resort, John McGregor complains
   loudly and abusively to you about the food served in his chalet: 'The meals are
   disgusting. Not fit for pigs.' he shouts.
   What do you say? Choose A, B, or C below and then click on the link to go to the
   section number given. Do not look at other sections.
   A 'I see.'                                                                              Go to 8
   B 'OK. There's no need to shout.'                                                       Go to 2
   C 'I'm terribly sorry.'                                                                 Go to 15

2. 'Now look here', shouts McGregor, 'you're the rep here and it's your job to see that
   I'm happy, right? Well I'm not, so you'd better do something quickly!' He shouts and
   swears for a minute or two before letting you reply.
   But how are you going to reply?
   A Walk away. Let him quieten down first. There is no need for you to take such          Go to 32
   B Tell him to stop shouting and swearing at you or you cannot help him.                 Go to 7
   C Explain that cooking is not your job, and that you are not personally responsible     Go to 30
   for the quality of the food in his chalet.

3. That is the last you hear from John McGregor. It is a reasonable way out of the problem,
   although you could have found a path through the maze which gave you positive credit for your
   helpfulness. Discuss an occasion when you felt that a complaint you made was listened to
   sympathetically. How did the other person show sympathy with your case? FINISH

4. John McGregor agrees that he is very disappointed.
   What do you say to him now?
   A 'What do you suggest would make up for your disappointment?'                          Go to 23
   B 'I'll go and see what I can do.'                                                      Go to 27

5. John McGregor assures you that it was not one particular meal that fell short of his
   expectations, but all three that he had eaten so far. He takes out a copy of the Ski-
   Fun brochure and points out the claim that the chalet girls would provide three
   excellent meals a day. He complains that in Italy one should be able to find good
   strong coffee, whereas he has been served weak 'instant' coffee and boring
   unappetising meals.
   What reply do you make?
   A 'So the problem is that you were expecting more varied dishes and Italian coffee?'    Go to 33
   B 'Don't worry. I can get your meals improved by tomorrow.'                             Go to 19
   C 'I'll find out what the problem is.'                                                  Go to 21

6. 'Well, get on to your office in London then.' growls McGregor.
   What is your response?
   A 'All right.'                                                                          Go to 10
   B 'If you wish to complain to our office in London personally Mr McGregor, please do    Go to 13
   C 'Listen, this is a cheap holiday worked out on a strict budget. I can't phone London Go to 28
   for every little problem. Give the food a chance, Mr McGregor. I'm sure you'll find it
   gets better.'

7. 'Don't tell me to stop shouting.' yells McGregor.
   What are you going to do now?
   A Tell him that if he can't be civil you can't help him.                                Go to 13
   B Walk away and let him calm down before you do anything.                               Go to 3

8. 'Well, do something then.' complains McGregor.
   How do you reply?
   A 'Don't worry, Mr McGregor, I'll have everything sorted out by this time tomorrow.'    Go to 19
   B 'But what do you expect me to do, Mr McGregor?'                                       Go to 24
   C 'I'll go and see what I can do.'                                                      Go to 21

9. That is a good idea, but you are still faced with McGregor's complaint.                 Go back
   Go back to 21 and make another decision now.                                            to 21

10. You contact the London office but they just tell you to work things out the best you
    can, and remind you not to let McGregor's complaint spread to the 10 others in the
    chalet. They suggest you offer him the choice of taking a packed lunch with him if
    he wants to avoid the midday meal.
    What will you report to McGregor?
    A 'If you're not happy with the lunch served in the chalet would you prefer to take a Go to 28
    cold lunch out with you?'
    B 'Head office regret this situation and say they hope you'll give the chalet girl a   Go to 14
    chance to settle into the job. She has just recently joined the company. Personally,
    Mr McGregor I do hope you'll enjoy the rest of your holiday, and I'm sure the food
    will improve.'
    C 'The office suggested sandwiches at midday instead of the cooked lunch.'             Go to 35

11. When the London office hears you have promised McGregor a 20% refund, without Go back
    their authorisation, they are extremely angry and give you two weeks notice.       to 1
    So now you are left without a job for the rest of the winter and Mr McGregor has a
    20% refund in his pocket. Surely this is not the way you hoped his complaint would
    turn out! If you are unhappy with this situation go back to the beginning of the
    maze and make some different decisions. Or you may prefer to talk about a
    company you have worked for which had a clear policy on dealing with complaints.

12. John McGregor looks annoyed. 'All you have to do is get me a place in a different
    What are you going to do?
    A Tell him he cannot simply demand a transfer.                                          Go to 2
    B Say that you will see if there is a free place in another chalet.                     Go to 29
    C Explain that such things are not in your hands.                                       Go to 6

13. At your words John McGregor walks off angrily.
    How do you react?
    A Avoid him. No doubt he will forget his complaints and start enjoying his holiday      Go to 25
    like everyone else. You can do nothing for him when he acts so unreasonably.
    B Next time you see him be very cheerful and ask him if everything is going well        Go to 17

14. John McGregor shrugs his shoulders and comments: 'Well, I still think the food in
    that chalet lets you down.'
    What do you say?
    A 'But otherwise it's a good holiday, isn't it?'                                        Go to 3
    B 'Nobody else thinks so.'                                                              Go to 35

15. John McGregor says in a slightly less aggressive tone: 'I should think so!'
    How do you continue?
    A 'Why don't you have a word with your chalet girl?'                                    Go to 12
    B 'Which meal didn't you like?'                                                         Go to 5
    C 'I'll sort everything out by tomorrow.'                                               Go to 19

16. 'I'm very dissatisfied with the service I have been given on this holiday, and I shall certainly
    never think of coming back.' says John McGregor. That is the last you hear of him. It is a pity
    you could not have brought things to a more positive conclusion. However, that is the end of
    the maze at last! Discuss occasions when you have complained about something, and how
    satisfied you were with the response. FINISH

17. John McGregor has obviously not got over his anger. He tells you he is going to
    make a complaint about you to the office in London.
    How do you take this information?
    A Say nothing but wait for him to continue.                                             Go to 20
    B Ask him what he expected you to do in the circumstances.                              Go to 24
    C Smile politely and walk away.                                                         Go to 26

18. When he hears this McGregor complains: 'But you said you'd do something. After
    all I'm paying enough.'
    How do you reply?
    A 'I'm sorry if you feel you're not getting the service you paid for, Mr McGregor, but Go to 23
    I don't see what I can do about it right now.'
    B 'Let me talk to our office in London about it.'                                       Go to 10

19. Unfortunately, you find it impossible to sort things out as quickly as you had hoped.
    The chalet girl blames the budget and tells you to get her more money if you want
    better meals.
    What will you say to John McGregor now?
    A Offer to try to transfer him to another chalet in the same resort.                    Go to 29
    B Apologise for the food, but admit that you can be of no further help in the matter. Go to 12
    C Say nothing further at present since he might forget his complaint once he starts     Go to 32
    enjoying the skiing.
20. John McGregor asks you if you often get complaints.
    What do you reply?
    A 'Mind your own business.'                                                         Go to 26
    B 'Look at the number of people who come back every year.'                          Go to 14

21. You know the food is not excellent, especially in McGregor's chalet, but what can
    you do about his complaint?
    A Go and have a word with the chalet girl who cooks for McGregor.                   Go to 31
    B Do nothing, in the hope that like most holiday-makers McGregor will soon be too   Go to 32
    involved in the fun to worry about his food.
    C Contact the office in London and pass on McGregor's complaint.                    Go to 9

22. You go and explain to John McGregor the arrangements you have made on his behalf, and wait
    to see if there are any more complaints.
    Like most of the holiday-makers, McGregor is soon too busy enjoying himself to waste valuable
    skiing time talking to you. However on the last evening he bumps into you in a local bar. He is
    with a girlfriend and obviously more worried that she remembers his telephone number in
    England, than whether his coffee is strong enough. He sees you and says goodbye. He
    mentions that he has had a fine holiday and hopes to come back next year. He smiles and
    thanks you for sorting out the problem with the food, but he hopes next year he will get a
    different chalet girl and that coffee prices will have fallen!
    Discuss the emotions you have when making a complaint, and how they can best be
    controlled. Go on to talk about the opportunity complaints can sometimes offer to improve a
    company's public relations. FINISH

23. 'I demand a refund!' says John McGregor, emphatically.
    How do you deal with his demand?
    A Suggest he writes to the Ski-Fun office in London.                                Go to 16
    B Promise him a 20% refund.                                                         Go to 11

24. 'I expect to be transferred to a chalet where the food served comes up to the
    standard suggested by your brochure!'
    Select your reply from the alternatives below.
    A 'You can't just demand a transfer, I'm afraid Mr McGregor.'                       Go to 2
    B 'I'll see what I can do.'                                                         Go to 29
    C 'I'm afraid that is not within my control.'                                       Go to 6

25. Later you see McGregor in a popular local bar. Although he is obviously having a
    good time with his friends he comes over to speak to you.
    What are you going to say to him now?
    A 'I'm sorry we couldn't sort out your problem, Mr McGregor, but I see you're       Go to 17
    having a good time, even so.'
    B 'I'm glad to see you're enjoying everything now, Mr McGregor.'                    Go to 26

26. Later you hear from the office that John McGregor has written a letter of complaint. Go back
    He suggested that you were rude to him, did not listen to his complaint, and did not to 1
    take him seriously. The company are annoyed to hear this and point out that if
    there are any more complaints of a similar nature they will not be able to offer you
    work next season.
    How justified do you think McGregor's letter was, and how justified was the
    response of the company?
    If you think you could have avoided the company's annoyance, go back to the
    beginning of the maze and make some different decisions. Or if you prefer, talk
    about an occasion when someone has made a complaint to you, and what you did
    about it.

27. John McGregor thanks you. You go and speak to his chalet girl. She gets angry at       Go to 22
    your implication that the cooking could be more varied. She suggests that
    McGregor is a trouble-maker and complains to her about everything. With reference
    to the coffee, she asks if you realise what coffee costs now and says that all the
    chalet girls have been told to make weak, instant coffee in order to keep costs
    down. She angrily offers you the job of making her tiny budget stretch to three
    meals a day for twelve hungry skiers.
    You agree it must be difficult to work on a small budget but explain that McGregor
    could encourage everyone to complain if some concession isn't made to him. You
    suggest she pin up the week's menus in advance, so that members of the group
    can eat elsewhere if they do not like a particular meal. You also suggest that as a
    special concession, she serve Italian-style coffee, but after dinner only, and that if
    there is any problem with paying for this, you will check with the office in London.
    Go on to 22 to hear whether this satisfies John McGregor.

28. John McGregor exclaims: 'But I'm paying through the nose for this holiday. I could
    get three weeks in a top hotel in the south of France in summer for the same price
    as two weeks here!'
    How do you reply?
    A 'I think you'll find that we're one of the cheapest tour operators in winter          Go to 2
    holidays, Mr McGregor.And I don't think you could even get two weeks in a hotel in
    France for the same money.'
    B 'I'm sorry Mr McGregor, but I don't see what else I can do.'                          Go to 12
    C 'I'm sorry if you feel you've paid too much for your holiday, Mr McGregor, but I      Go to 23
    don't see how we can compensate you.'

29. You go through the lists of holiday-makers in other chalets but realise that there is
    no possibility of transferring John McGregor. There is simply no space.
    What is going to be your attitude to McGregor now?
    A Explain that it is not possible to transfer him.                                      Go to 18
    B Say that you would like to help but cannot.                                           Go to 6

30. 'Whose responsibility is it then?' he asks impatiently. Select your reply from the
    alternatives given below.
    A 'Mr McGregor, you really are making a mountain out of a molehill. The food's not      Go to 34
    so bad in your chalet. A couple of meals you weren't keen on doesn't mean all the
    food's going to be poor.'
    B 'Our office in London has ultimate responsibility for your satisfaction.'             Go to 6

31. The chalet girl is annoyed that you take McGregor's complaints seriously, and says
    that cooking is not your business. She adds that John McGregor is just a trouble-
    maker and has complained to her about everything in the chalet. She says she
    manages the best she can on a tiny budget and cannot afford to buy expensive
    What are you going to say to John McGregor now?
    A Tell him that you have spoken to his chalet girl and now there is nothing else you Go to 12
    can do to help.
    B Explain to him that the chalet girls have to work to a strict budget and therefore    Go to 28
    cannot always serve exactly what everyone would like.
    C Say nothing more to John McGregor in the hope that the fun of the holiday will        Go to 32
    soon make him forget his complaints.
32. Unfortunately, John McGregor does not want to give up his complaint so easily. The Go back
    next time he sees you he continues as before. So go back to 1 and make some        to 1
    different decisions.

33. John McGregor's reply is: 'Yes. I suppose so.' What do you say next?
    A Explain politely that the brochure does not promise regional dishes or local        Go to 12
    coffee, and that most holiday-makers enjoy the cooking very much. Add that you
    cannot interfere with the cooking arrangements.
    B Explain that you realise how disappointed he must be.                               Go to 4

34. John McGregor does not think his complaint is unimportant, so you should not treat Go back
    it as unimportant. Go back to 1 and make some different decisions.                 to 1

35. McGregor scowls. 'You must be joking!' he says.                                         Go back
    In a week or two you hear from your office in London that he has written a letter of to 1
    complaint, signed by all the people in his chalet, complaining about the cooking.
    However, he does not mention you.
    Is this a satisfactory way out of this maze? If you think it is not, you can go back to
    the beginning and try to find another way out. If you prefer, discuss why people
    with a complaint persuade others to join them. Have you ever put your name to a
    joint complaint, to a company or the government? Why? FINISH

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