How to complain using Twitter

Paul Lewis

Paul Lewis shows you how to complain effectively by using Twitter, if you receive shoddy service from companies.

Every year customers make millions of complaints. About holidays, mobile phones, energy bills, bank accounts, credit cards, or things we have bought that are not quite what we paid for.

Most firms have established procedures for dealing with complaints - often involving an expensive, time-consuming and frustrating phone call. But there may be a short cut: Twitter.

Judging by the results of people on my Twitter feed complaining using tweets can be swift and effective.

@geofffallon - Twice. A train operator AND a district council. Both answered in minutes. Very impressive.

@andynun @npowerhelp - Resolved my issue very quickly. Email wasn't answered and phoning told me holding time was 25 mins.

@factoidfan - Very effective. Helped a friend's mum get a £600 gas bill refund after she went into a care home. She had tried for months.

@Ticklecustomers - Instant reaction from a major department store over a faulty table when I complained on Twitter!

Not all firms watch Twitter feeds well

Other tweeps have told me they had got no better response tweeting than by other means.

But it is always worth trying, especially with firms that are aware of a poor public image like energy companies and banks, those that care about their reputation and, of course, those that have a Twitter feed for customer complaints.

And because Twitter is instant, the teams that deal with the responses want an instant answer. 

Read our guide to complaining effectively.

Why is Twitter effective?

Twitter is effective because, unlike email, phones, and letters, it is public. Half a billion people around the world could see your tweet - and 15 million of them are in the UK. 

The search facility means that anyone researching a firm can find all the tweets mentioning it. And if the complaint strikes a chord with others it will be retweeted and could go viral!

Five golden rules to complaining using Twitter

1. Keep it specific 

Find and use the firm's @name - many have dedicated customer twitterfeeds which twitter will find once you start typing it.

2. Keep it brief

Explain your problem in 140 characters. It can be a challenge. But the essence of it can always be boiled down. Resist writing a string of tweets. One strong message is more likely to be retweeted.

3. Keep it factual 

Avoid abuse and irrelevant material. But be strong in your complaint.

4. Keep it going 

If you get no response make the lack of response your next complaint!

5. Keep it public

Don't agree to divert to direct messaging. You might as well email.

It is also useful to repeat your complaint to someone with a lot of Twitter followers who may be influential. 'I am having a real problem of yyy with @xxxxxx about zzz. What can I do?'

What are your rights if a delivery is late?

As more and more of us use Twitter to complain, it may become less useful. But the fact it is public and has the potential to go viral and embarrass the firm is a huge advantage over all other ways of complaining.

Next time you hit a brick wall, a long delay, or complete indifference why not try it? And let me know how it goes @paullewismoney

* You can follow Saga on Twitter @SagaUK

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.