A Little Time and a Keyboard: The Delicate Art of Complaining

The Delicate Art of Complaining

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I have long looked at complaining as an art form. Knowing how and when to complain is a delicate matter. Many times complaining can go too far. If we act in the heat of the moment, we are liable to let emotions distort what really happened and to make quick judgements without proper assessment. On the flip side, we can let things go because we do not what to make waves. However, doing this, we risk overlooking a problem that will cause us pain far into the future. Whatever you do, you cannot take it back, so you need to really think before complaining.

On my birthday, I had an incident that left me at that fork in the road--to complain or not to complain. I have been witness to people complaining just to get something free. If you have eaten your entire meal and wait until after to complain about it, you should not ask for it free. I so do not want to be that person.

For my birthday, I treated myself to a facial. I had purchased a gift card from the spa during a Valentine's Day promotion. The treatment was wonderful! My problem arose when I went to pay. The spa's gift card system was down. The employees muttered something to each other about the gift card system not working. I went into immediate panic mode because I had already paid for the service through the gift card and did not want to pay again. After moments of trying, the clerk said that she would have to write down my gift card number and take down my credit card number. I was very upset that they had to take down my credit card number. I understand why, but now I was in the position where I had to be careful that I did not get double charged. I also got the feeling that the clerks may have been skeptical about the amount on the gift card. So, I left feeling like the clerks thought I was trying to pull a fast one. What a birthday present! I know that this situation was not their fault. However, I left the spa very stressed after spending quite a bit of money to relax.

I pondered over whether I should saying anything about the disappointing end to my spa visit. I determined that I had spent quite a bit of money to relax on my big day. However, I left the spa stressed out, not relaxed. I felt that the spa should know that I did come there specifically to relax on my birthday but ended up leaving stressed and upset. Had I come for another treatment that was not specifically designed for relaxation, I would not have said anything. Glitches happen. I emailed the spa and quickly received a phone call from one of the managers. She was very nice and understood why I was upset. It was nice to get a direct apologize. I was also able to explain that people come to the spa to relax, so snafus like this really undo what patrons just paid for.

I am really glad that I said something in this instance. I feel much better about the situation. There was closure and I can let go of my feelings. I do think, however, that it helps to step back for a moment before launching an attack. Sometimes, complaining to your friends first will help you sort out your feelings and decide whether you should really complain to a company or if you are being a little too critical.


  1. It sounds like you were most gracious about your complaint. An art indeed. I don't like Mondays-hopping Jane @nothingbtbook

  2. They should have given you a gift card.

  3. Complaining is good for you as long as you're not complaining to the person you're complaining about.

  4. It's good to stand up for yourself. But i agree, don't eat the whole thing and then complain. I read somewhere that when Barbra Streisand was young and a lot less...shall we say...WEALTHY...she would eat almost the whole entree and then place a dead fly (which she would carry around in her purse) onto the dish to get the meal comped. I love huh.