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Spread A Little Happiness (on the Bakerloo Line)

7 Dec

A little Yuletide aside.  A moment of meditation for commuters on the London Underground.

I have always been intrigued by this somewhat mysterious letterbox.  Does anyone actually write to the staff northbound on the Bakerloo Line at Oxford Circus?  Love letters perhaps?  Commiserations?



22 Mar

Delighted to be featured in the wonderful new online magazine The Advantages Of Age.



How To Complain On Valentine’s Day (by the Queen Of Complaints)

5 Feb

Ingrid Stone

Love it or loathe it, February 14 strikes again – be it with Cupid’s arrow or fear in your heart.

As part of my regal duties, I thought it only right and proper to provide you with some top tips to warm your cockles and ease any pains that might mar this upcoming St Valentine’s Eve.

Should You Eat Your Words?

If you are in a relationship, it could be that your loved one is planning on cooking up a romantic feast (or has a bun in the oven.) And if not, there will be the usual mad scramble to book a table that isn’t a Zizzi or your local take-out joint.

Hopefully your evening will be a delightful melange of tender exchanges and melt-in-the-mouth morsels and the only sour note will be that perfectly formed cocktail by a world-class mixologist.

However, there’s a teeny chance that your meal won’t be quite up to scratch and you will have good reason to complain (although I do not advise this in the case of the Home Cooked Meal.)  As it happens, I wrote a piece about restaurant complaining which was published by Which? back in July, which I turned into a little film (and was since featured by those lovely people at Square Meal.)

Below is that film. I do hope it is of some use if your dinner à deux fails to meet your expectations.

Positive Complaining

Remember that your body language says a lot about you and can make the world of difference when complaining about a shoddy service or returning a faulty product. Stand tall, be polite and remember that you are just as important as that Prada-wielding person on the next table or behind you in the customer service queue.

For more apple grumble, the Queen Of Complaints’ complaining tips can be found here 

You-Know-Who XXX

In Honour Of This Year’s Turner Prize…

17 Oct

Complaint Letter: No. 23

Response: Situation remedied by Brent Council.

Brent Council

Councillor James Denselow
30 MOntrose Avenue

London NW6 6LB
15th November 2010
Dear Mr Denselow
You would be mistaken if you thought both of the attached photographs were entries for the Turner Prize. In fact, only one of the photographs was ever an entry for the Turner Prize – the one of Tracey Emin’s ‘My Bed’. The other picture shows the state of the rubbish outside my home after this morning’s rubbish collection.
Brent Rubbish
Tracey Emin My Bed
While it is admirable that your rubbish collection team have artistic aspirations, it is quite appalling they have left this amount of rubbish – in fact, they have created more mess than there was to start with. The Pampers box comes from my household, and which I originally put inside the bin. If you look at the photograph, you will see that it is now lying on the pavement, along with all manner of things – empty vodka bottles, cigarette packets – why not throw a used condom into the throng? You must surely be aware that rubbish attracts more rubbish, and if passers-by see litter carelessly strewn on the ground, it is often human nature to treat that area with the same lack of respect.
I am most concerned about this situation. It is – by no means, the first time that this has happened, and I am shocked that this is what we are getting for our council tax. Not only that, as the parent of a small baby, I am deeply concerned that this area outside our building has become a breeding ground for germs.
Please would you investigate the matter as soon as possible.
Many thanks. 
Yours sincerely
Ingrid Stone

The Response (by email):

From: James Denselow
To: Stone, Ingrid; Rope, Richard
Subject: Rubbish Collection – Winchester Avenue
Dear Richard,
Please see the email below from a constituent who has very just concerns with the quality of her rubbish collection.
Cllr. James Denselow
From: “Rope, Richard”
To: Stone, Ingrid
Subject: RE: Rubbish Collection – Winchester Avenue
Thank you for forwarding the picture.
The position with spillage is that Veolia is required the clean up spillage which is caused during the bin emptying process. This photo does not look like spillage as spillage is usually found in the road where the refuse cart stops.
Veolia is not required to take flytipped items e.g. builders bags, uncontained waste or clean up bin areas that are open or “unsecure” as in this case. Unfortunately, large bins such as this are open to everybody and attract fly tips as well as people foraging in the bins looking for food, or clothing or other items.
Cleaning up bin sheds/areas is the responsibility of the land owner, so I suggest you contact them and look at the possibility of them putting a door, or gate up to protect the bin area, or undertake regular cleaning of area as part of their block cleaning.
Hope the above that clarifies the situation.
At 15:46, Ingrid Stone wrote:
Dear Richard
Thanks for your response, but if you look closely at the items around the bin, only one of the items is a fly-tipping object i.e. the Morans builders’ bag. Everything else is regular garbage, including the Pampers box, which belonged to my household. The bins became this way immediately after the rubbish collection team departed. If this isn’t clear, I would be happy to send you some more photographs that I took yesterday.
Therefore, I am sorry to say that this their responsibility. Also, as already stated in my email to Cllr James Denselow, this is not the first time this has happened.
Yours sincerely
Ingrid Stone
From: “Rope, Richard”
To: Stone, Ingrid
Subject: RE: Rubbish Collection – Winchester Avenue
I have checked Winchester Ave and the 1100L bin at your property yesterday and the collection had been done properly.

From The Archives: A Complaint Email To The Conservative Party

29 Sep

Complaint Letter: No. 19


By Email:

Chris Philp
Queens Park Conservatives
1a Heath Hurst Road
London NW3 2RU
7th March 2010


Dear Mr Philp
Thank you for your recent campaign letter.
However, I am listed on the electoral roll as ‘Ms’ not ‘Mrs’, and I find it somewhat old-fashioned (not to mention presumptuous) that someone in your admin department felt obliged to alter my title.
As it happens, I am married, but I choose to use my maiden name with the ‘Ms’ for the reason that men do not have their marital status mentioned in their title, therefore why should I? 
I would expect this sort of presumptuous grammar from an estate agent’s mail-out, not from a political party trying to attract new voters. 
I look forward to hearing from you.
Yours sincerely 
Ingrid Stone

The Response (by email):


Dear Ms Stone
I am very sorry for our mistake, the database that we use is directly from the electoral role (sic), but sometimes there are mistakes made.
I have changed your title on the electoral register.
Sincere Apologies
Chris Philp
Parliamentary Candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn

The Queen Of Complaints’ First Ever Complaint Letter (aged 8)

28 Jun

Now beautifully restored and digitally remastered…

First Complaint Letter

Scan 2

Universal Music Group UK Ltd. – 22nd January 2013

21 Jan

Complaint Letter No. 50

Universal Music Group

Max Hole
Chairman & CEO
Universal Music Group UK Ltd.
364-366 Kensington High Street
London W14 8NS
22nd January 2013
Dear Mr Hole
First of all, I would like to congratulate you on your new role at Universal Music Group International.
I am sorry to mar your first month, but I was compelled to write after discovering a typo on my The Very Best of Michael Nyman: Film Music 1980-2001 CD (please see below) that I purchased last month.

The Very Best of Michael Nyman  The Very Best Of Michael Nyman

I appreciate that the CD was produced by Virgin Records, but my understanding is that Virgin Records is now owned by Universal Music Group International.
The music sounds like Michael Nyman all right, but how am I to be sure it is not by someone called Micheal Nyman posing as Mr Nyman himself?  Or perhaps it is like those fake designer handbags so lovingly copied, except for one small slip-up.  I note that the CD cover has the correct spelling.
I should think the real Michael Nyman would be appalled if he knew of this error.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Yours sincerely
Ingrid Stone

To Complain Or Not To Complain

15 Dec

The Dissatisfied Woman was asked by a television company to compile a list of the compensation she has received from her complaint letters. Here it is… 

£30 Virgin Trains vouchers and signed paperback copy of Sir Richard Branson’s autobiography
A3 Jiffy bag full of various Pilot pens – ballpens, fine-liners, fluorescent markers, silver decorative pens
Postal order to cover cost of Aquafresh dental tape
One free night’s stay in one of the Corus Hotel’s executive rooms with breakfast
£50 John Lewis gift vouchers
Personal shopper experience and £100 to spend on clothes at Debenhams
One free Bikram yoga session
£300 Selfridges vouchers
£0.20 token to spend against any purchase of Mars confectionary
£25 credit on my mother’s BT account
One pack of Cobra Beer 5% premium lager
Six complimentary return British Airways Club Europe tickets
A cheque for £350 to cover cost of Sony repair bill
A full repair to Apple MacBook
Case of 6 x 125g Food Thoughts cocoa
£21.72 refund to cover costs for faulty Just Sheepskin booties and postage
Replacement runners for IKEA chest of drawers
£11 refund for Clinique superfine liner for brows
£50 Gap gift certificate
Replacement Culinare Magi-Can can opener
Six boxes Dorset Cereals Simply Delicious Muesli
A selection of Deva glue dots, glue tags, gift bags, wrapping paper
Bonhams refund of full hammer price of £150 including all illustration fees, commission and loss warranty costs
4 x £1 Weetabix vouchers
STV Fly papers and a packet of window fly traps
£5 voucher for Alldays, Always and Tampax
2 x boxes Jelly Belly 10 individual flavours, 2 x boxes Jelly Belly Fruit Bowl, 2 x packets Jelly Belly Fruit Bowl, 2 x Jelly Belly fridge magnets
Replacement Le Creuset butter dish
£10 postal orders
Replacement candle from Archipelago Botanicals, plus an additional candle from the company
£35 Tesco Moneycard

Tesco – 14th October 2012

14 Oct

Complaint Letter: No. 48

Compensation: £35 Tesco Moneycard

Philip Clarke
Group Chief Executive
Tesco PLC
New Tesco House
Delamare Road
Herts EN8 9SL 
14th October, 2012 
Dear Mr Clarke
I recently purchased a 25-pack of your Tesco Party! pearlised balloons.  The colours are lovely and they were absolutely perfect for the Bollywood-themed party I put on in a friend’s garden. 
That delight, however, was short-lived.  Five out of the twenty-five pack of balloons exploded (enclosed) which was most upsetting for the children present.  One of the infants was crying.
I trust your Tesco own-brand condoms are more reliable (let’s hope they are of the Tesco Extra ilk rather than Every little helps”).  As it is, your balloons were something of a let down.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Yours sincerely
Ingrid Stone   


The Response:

Dear Ms Stone

Thank you for your letter addressed to Philip Clarke, to which I have been asked to respond.  Please accept my sincere apologies for the delay in my reply.

I was very sorry to learn of your disappointment with the Tesco 25 Assorted Pearl balloons you purchased and I regret any upset which was caused when five balloons exploded as you were organising a party.

The samples you kindly returned have now been analysed by our Technical Manager for this product range.  She was equally sorry to learn of the problem and has discussed the matter with our supplier.  Please be assured all necessary manufacturing controls will be increased to prevent a similar situation happening again.

It is always disappointing when a customer has cause to complain about any of the products we sell and, as a gesture of goodwill for any upset which has been caused, I have enclosed a £35.00 Tesco Moneycard with my apologies and best wishes.

Thank you for bringing this matter to the attention of the Chief Executive.  Once again please accept my apologies for the delay in my response and any upset caused.

Yours sincerely

Frances Hickling

Chief Executive’s Office


Culinare MagiCan – 14th September 2010

14 Nov

Complaint Letter: No. 13.

Compensation: Replacement Culinare MagiCan can-opener.

Nick Cornwell

Managing Director

DKB Household UK Ltd.

Bridge House

Eelmoor Road


Hampshire GU14 7UE

14th September 2010

Dear Mr Cornwell

I bought the enclosed Culinare MagiCan can-opener from Waitrose last week, as it looked like a good, sturdy product.

The blades cut into the can well, but unfortunately once the cutting has been completed, the can’s plastic ‘legs’ refuse to open and it is virtually impossible to remove the can.  It is especially annoying when trying to remove a tin of tuna fish.  I had this misfortune a couple of days ago, and I quite literally had to force the plastic legs of the can-opener apart. Of course the liquid in which the tuna was contained went everywhere – including over me, with everything smelling of fish, which was most unpleasant.

Not only is the product entirely impractical, it is also dangerous, as in trying to prise open the plastic legs of the can-opener, the consumer’s hand can slip and cut themselves on the tin or the can-opener’s blades in the process.

In fact, with the Culinare MagiCan’s reluctance to give over the can (rather like a dog refusing to let go of a stick), perhaps the product should be renamed a ‘Can’t-opener’ or even a ‘Shan’t-opener’.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Ingrid Stone