How Do You Blog A Complaint?

Filed as Features on January 23, 2009 3:14 am

One front page story at Philippine Star a few days ago involved four students of the Quezon City Science High School (a government-run science-oriented institution) being suspended due to several blog posts being severely critical of the school’s administration, particularly its principal.

Officials of the Quezon City Science High School (QCSHS) recently suspended four students who allegedly posted a blog that criticized the school’s principal.

The concerned blog … contains articles and photographs against Sadsad’s policies and person as well as the students’ gripes over irregular lunch hours and required subjects, among others.

The personal attacks against Sadsad in the blog even included violent declarations such as “Sadsad must die.”

While much of the students’ blog postings are on locked Multiply accounts–meaning they not for public consumption, but rather accessible to friends only–the Star cited another Multiply account as subject of the controversy.

I’m not taking sides on this issue yet. For all I know, the students’ gripes might be valid. But i usually get taken aback when people overdo it when they air their gripes online–especially if one resorts to personal attacks. This often results in a knee-jerk reaction, which can similarly be personal in nature. As bloggers, are we becoming a community of whiners? And because of this, are other people becoming overly defensive and over-reacting whenever they are attacked online? And why do we resort to ad hominem attacks?

On some forums and sites that I manage, I have experienced being on the receiving end of personally-directed attacks, too. Some are through private emails, some through public comments. Sometimes the argument gets lost in the midst of name-calling, swearing, and typing in all caps (probably the worst of ‘em all, eh?).

Then again, there’s a difference between launching an attack on one’s person and the recipient’s taking a valid argument too personally. But whether it’s one thing or the other, the perception of people reading rabidly-written complaint blog posts might not be too good.

Perhaps it’s the impersonal nature of blogs and other online media–not being a face-to-face medium–that emboldens us to write with the impression that we can get away with anything. So it’s still best to watch what we write. Think if what you’re writing would be appropriate if you were to say it to another person’s face. I’ve written a few complaint letters and blog posts in my life, and so far I’ve tried to apply what I learned way back in consumer ed.

First, you introduce or identify yourself. This would help put your complaint in context. You don’t have to explicitly state your real identity, particularly with anonymous blogs, for instance. The important thing is you establish why you are being negatively affected by the product, service, or persons you are griping about. Instead of saying Acme electric shavers suck! you can perhaps say something about your personal experience

Hello folks, I’ve been an avid user of Acme electric shavers for ten years. But when I bought the latest model this weekend, its performance left much to be desired.

This way, folks who read your blog post can identify with you, or at least sympathize. Hey, this guy’s been a loyal customer, so this should put some weight to the argument.

Next, share some specifics about that thing you’re griping about. You can’t just say Acme is a stupid company that sells stupid products. For all you know, you could’ve bought a lemon, and not all their products are bad. So how about this, instead?

The shaver I bought was Acme model XYZ 2000, which was a rechargable, portable model. I bought it at the Acme store at the mall last Saturday evening. It was supposed to be portable and rechargeable, and I have a habit of shaving while driving on the way to work (bad habit, I know). But my shaver’s batteries died out inexplicably even if it had been fully charged the night before. And I had to come to work the right side of my face unshaven, much to my embarrassment.

Next, propose a solution or a compromise. Instead of just shouting out for your money to be returned, or for the people responsible for the product or service to fix things, do propose a constructive solution.

I need a shaver, and my old one gave out after ten years of faithful service. I really like the Acme XYZ 2000’s features, except for the fatal battery flaw. But if Acme can replace my unit with one that can work as promised, I would gladly agree to an exchange. Otherwise, I would rather be refunded the amount I paid. I will most probably switch to another brand, and report the incident to the better business bureau and tell everyone I know about my bad experience.

Get in touch. Most of these complaints would perhaps be best addressed directly to whoever it is you are feeling bad about–whether through email or talking to someone who can help you. I would usually only blog about a bad experience if there were no other recourse, and so I can warn other potential users or customers. But I don’t have an assurance that the company or service I’m complaining about would even read, let alone respond to my blog post. So it’s still good to directly get in touch with someone who is in a position to do something about your issue.

I guess my examples mostly referred to a bad product or service. But of course, this can also apply to just about anything else. If you’re complaining about your school principal’s (or government’s) policies, then perhaps you can raise your argument in this way. I’m for constructive criticism and helping each other out!

Tags: , , ,

This post was written by

You can visit the for a short bio, more posts, and other information about the author.


Submissions & Subscriptions

Submit the post to Reddit, StumbleUpon, Digg or Del.icio.us.

Did you like it? Then subscribe to our RSS feed!



  1. By ia posted on January 23, 2009 at 5:53 am
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    They’ve been taken off suspension a few days ago. But I’m pretty sure it took an uproar in the Philippine blogosphere for that to happen.

    And I’m also quite sure that the lack of a dialogue between the school administration and the students led them to protesting online in the first place. Suspension for blogging? Come on.

    Granted, ad hominem is taking things too far, but you can just glean from their negativity how demoralized and dissatisfied they are about what their principal, Dr. Zenaida Sadsad, has done to their school. Who wouldn’t raise an eyebrow once you learn she took away their school paper(s), choir, varsity, and participation in interschool competitions?

    Anyway, what’s really sad, again, is that it had to take a suspension of the students for it to reach the media. They’ve been in misery for so long now.

    Finally, this is just one of several examples as of late that show how little many people understand the internet.

    Reply

  2. By Nick Stamoulis posted on January 23, 2009 at 9:07 am
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    I’m sure it was the death threat that the school took very seriously. With all the school shootings these days that is something officials do not take lightly.

    Reply

  3. By Tarheel Rambler posted on January 24, 2009 at 8:00 am
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    In so many cases, attempts at discussion are quickly derailed by people who only know one tactic…the ad hominim attack. It seems that a large majority of the population are convinced that their viewpoint is the only right viewpoint and the ideas of others are not worth consideration. I think that’s one of the biggest reasons that it’s so hard for the politicians in Washington to make any progress on anything.

    We, as a society, seem to have lost the ability to engage in civilized discussion. We are turning into a close-minded, opinionated, selfish population with no capacity to learn from the experience or reflections of people with an opposing or alternate point-of-view.

    Reply

  4. By Maikeru76 posted on February 4, 2009 at 2:30 am
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    In my opinion, the student’s didn’t deserve to be suspended. But the students could have been more creative than to post that their principal “must die…”

    I think that the principal should have herself a blog c”,

    Oh my, what a little blog could do…

    Reply

  5. By Masterplans posted on June 4, 2009 at 10:11 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Kids do not understand how powerful the Internet is.

    Reply

  6. By Lulu posted on June 13, 2009 at 11:02 am
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    I just had a bad experience with a motorcycle provider here in our place. The complaint I filed with DTI was a failure when we had a conference/hearing. The supplier did not heed to my proposed remedy. I blogged this experience hoping that somebody someday might find it and share their comments or experiences.

    Reply

  7. By Abhishek mishra posted on October 22, 2009 at 8:58 am
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    My Countryclub grievances

    It was horrible to have a country club membership, i took a membership of con.club with which i got RCI travel club holiday membership card (i thought it Resort condominium international) and i finalised the deal in Rs.52000 as i am getting RCI in such a chipper rate. But when wanted to use i come to know that RCI travel club membership is a local indian club membership which is bot RCI actually. In the way they fraud with me.

    I am going to file a case against them, be aware dont indulge in it.

    Abhishek Mishra
    Senior sofware engineer
    Dell india

    Reply

  8. By Hanrie posted on September 7, 2010 at 12:38 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    I found it easy to complain on http://www.gripe-it.com a real must for all complainers

    Reply

  9. By yellow cat posted on September 10, 2010 at 8:33 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    I can’t ever seem to get a boy interested in me. I mean they look at me and all but I can’t seem to get them to like me. Theirs this one guy I really, really like and well I really wanna go out. But I’m to scare to ask him out… I’m to scared.

    Reply

  10. By Julio posted on October 6, 2010 at 1:17 am
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Here is the latest message I have sent to facebook after being disabled with no warning and for no reason since I have not violated any terms or conditions. Facebook doesnt provide its users with a useful means to contact them with any issues and doesnt communicate back with you when you do use their means. I have researched that there are hundreds and thousands of folks in the same boat as I am and this is poor customer service. I have been left no choice but to use any means to get the word out about this before it happens to many more. Please back up your photos, videos, contacts and everything else important to you because you can be cut off at any time without resolution.

    Hello over the past week I have send numerous reports about my account being disabled. the help feature and this reporting system have not been helpful. I do not know why I have been disabled so i cannot pinpoint how to take action but contacting facebook is not working. i received a standard answer on my first complaint about the issue which said that you couldnt help me until i provided the correct email address because the one i provided did not match an account that was disabled. This email address is the only one i have ever used to log into my account which leads me to believe that there is a serious security issue here. Without warning in the middle of using my page last week it was disabled and the only reason i was alerted to it was when attempting to log in. This came one day after I logged into a computer at best buy while deciding on whether to buy one or not and i believe i logged off successfully. i can only imagine that maybe my account was broken into. I have never posted any inappropriate content and have only been warned a time or two about adding my friends too quickly. This is hardly a reason to disable me without warning or explanation. I have been cut off from communication with important friends and family. Almost 800 friends who have been contacting me asking why I deleted my page and worried about me. I have also lost a lot of personal and irreplaceable content to include 80+ photo albums with thousands of photos, videos, poems ive written myself. All very important to me. I am urging facebook to respond and contact me with resolution to this issue. I would like my account enabled and restored to the position in which it was when my service was interrupted. An explanation on why this interruption in my life occurred would be appreciated and if I did something wrong a warning would suffice unless I was erroneously accused of something in which case a chance to refute it would be ideal but in either case a resolution instead of cutting me off would be more of a way to handle a customer. I am a Chief in the Navy going on 21 years and work in customer service. While researching this issue it has come to my attention that hundreds of users suffer from the same situation that I am in. There should be away to improve this aspect of your service. With all the major companies who sponsor and use facebook and keep it running improvements should always be looked at. No company wants to see that a business they are part of is treating their loyal customers this way. It isn’t good for business. A company should always have a way for its customers to contact them, email, phone, a help desk of some sort of which facebook has none and the help portion of the site yields no results. I have been patient, sending messages repeatedly to get someone to talk to me with no result. I am not opposed to trying to resolve my issue and at the very least bring light to it through any channels necessary such as spreading the word through my hundreds and thousands of Sailors as well as the army, marines, air force and coast guard or going to the local media to start with but I would like to resolve this issue privately with facebook since I thoroughly enjoy the service. I have been loyal and even supported facebook by spreading the word to family and friends and spending money on certain portions of facebook. I urge you to please communicate with me and resolve this issue so I can continue to use this service and have access to my personal files and contact with my family and friends.

    Reply

  11. By Peter Lim posted on November 20, 2010 at 3:27 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Thailand poor baber / Hair cut shop at silom – Below BTS – K-Two
    Very poor , no experince , and very expensive

    Reply

    Your words are your own, so be nice and helpful if you can. If this is the first time you're posting a comment, it might go into moderation. Don't worry, it's not lost, so there's no need to repost it! We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it please.

    Current ye@r *