Consumers Association of Penang

Giving voice to the little people...since 1970

Why complain?

complaintIf you unpack your newly bought dress and find that it not the same as that advertised in the catalogue, would you complain?  Or if your brand new  toaster keeps burning your bread, would you complain? Or would you have kept quiet and done nothing?
 
If you don’t like complaining you are quite normal. As consumers, we Malaysians have traditionally been a docile lot.( but that is fortunately changing). When we buy something that is defective or contract a service that turns out to be unsatisfactory, we get angry with ourselves and not with the manufacturer or tradesman. We call it bad luck and blame it on fate. But we do not complain. Why?

Maybe our background and upbringing could provide the answer. At home we were taught that it was “not nice”, even impolite, to complain. Even if we were tempted to complain, there was still the fear that we would suffer a loss of face should we speak up and then fail to win redress. So it is often easier to let the matter drop.

Another obstacle is the sense of cynicism that many of us hold. We have accepted that it is futile to complain. What is the use of complaining, we think, when our protests will invariably go unheeded? As we are only insignificant individuals, how can we affect anything? But if everyone were to think like that, nothing would ever change for the better.

Consumer laws often owe their existence to conscientious people who took the trouble to complain. A good example is the Consumer Protection 1999 which was born as a result of consumer grouses. Inadequate laws may also get amended when enough consumer complaints reveal their weaknesses.

You don’t need to display flashy credentials and a good education to be qualified to complain. All you need is the determination to make yourself heard. Until you, the consumer, find a voice, the interests of the manufacturer, the businessman and the bureaucrat will tend to override your interests.

Remember, making a complaint is a step forward in improving things for ourselves. Even if the matter is slight or the sum involved is not large, complaining successfully will give you a sense of satisfaction, of not being exploited. Not only is complaining a matter of principle, it may very well save other consumers from suffering the same fate.

You may be sick of being “had” by businesses that take your money without fulfilling their part of the deal. Or you may be dissatisfied that the rubbish bins and drains in your streets are overflowing and not being cleared, that the river nearby is being polluted by a factory. How long are you going to put up with this state of affairs? Wouldn’t you like to receive better treatment in life and better services or goods? If your answer is yes, then start complaining.

In 2009, CAP received about 1,403  complaints and 1,779 telephone calls mostly asking for advice. Complaints that range from clogged drains breeding mosquitoes to being cheated by door-to-door salesmen, from non-payment of EPF by an employer to insufficient compensation in an insurance claim.

CAP informs you of your rights and how to how to ensure that they are honoured.