The power of doing small things

Copyright: indomercy / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: indomercy / 123RF Stock Photo

A few weeks ago I received a letter from my credit card company.  They were very happy with how I was managing my account, the letter said, but they were reducing my credit limit.  They didn’t say why.  If I wanted to keep my existing limit (I did) that was fine, it was my decision.  Just ring the call centre on……….


The letter didn’t include an address to write to……


I am so sick of this.

However, my new strategy kicked in.  Encouraged by my anti-litter strategy (of which more in a minute) I decided to keep calm and take a small action.  In this case, write a letter of complaint.  I looked up the address of the bank’s complaints department on the internet, wrote a short letter saying how unhappy I was that their letter did not include an alternative means of contact for people who cannot use the telephone, included a sentence about disability discrimination legislation and asked them to rescind their credit limit cut.  Suspicious of the Christmas post (and letters to complaints departments getting lost) I invested £1.75 and sent it recorded delivery.

It was amazing how much better this made me feel – from powerless and intensely irritated to calm, purposeful and determined.  Yay!

I felt even better when, within a week, I got a letter of apology, an agreement to reverse the limit reduction, a statement of intent to review the content of their standard letters to include alternative means of contact AND a cheque for £25.  (I’m donating the cheque to Action on Hearing Loss).

So I can heartily recommend complaining.  Do it.  My thinking is that the more of us who complain about ridiculous, easily avoided nuisances and barriers, perpetrated by organisations who should know better, the quicker change will happen.

I’ve also written to thank the complaints person who responded to my letter, on the principle that the more encouragement they get to do helpful things the better.

My anti-litter strategy, to go back to that, is also about doing small things about a big problem, because it’s better than feeling infuriated.  We don’t have a massive litter problem round here but we do have litter.   It’s annoying to go on a favourite walk from the house and see sweet wrappers, beer cans and pop bottles when there should just be wild flowers and hedgerows.  Which imbeciles do this??  Do they do it specially to spite the rest of us??  Don’t they care??  I would grumble to myself about it on walks, for many a mile on many a day.  Pointlessly, because the offending objects would still be there the next day, to annoy me all over again.

When I decided to change my strategy and just pick it up myself, I felt massively better.  More to the point, the litter had gone!  Izzy helps, because there is nothing she likes better than an empty plastic pop bottle.  She loves rattling them around in her mouth to make a loud crackling noise and they make excellent retrieval objects if an owner can be persuaded to throw them for chasing.  Then we take them home, for the recycling collection.  I know there are bigger problems in the world than dropped litter but the idea of doing something (a tiny something) rather than nothing, about the things that make us angry, really has power.  If we ALL did it (picked up a piece of litter on a walk, complained to idiotic call centres, did some small thing about something we feel strongly about) perhaps change would happen.  (Sorry – sermon over).

As always, funny things happen.  (It’s good to laugh).  One day last year Izzy and I were out for a walk when she dived off into the bushes and came back with a plastic bottle.  So far so normal.  But it was a very unusual bright blue bottle of a very odd shape.  Taking it off her, it turned out to be a huge blue vibrator.  “Multi-speed” the handle said.  She looked very cute trotting along with a bright blue pxxxx sticking out of her mouth but eventually, worried about the reaction of other villagers if they saw us, I took it off her, wrapped it up and brought it home for landfill.  Wish I had a photo……..

PS Of course, back on the call centre problem, I COULD have used the Next Generation Text Service to phone them and it probably would have worked (although using it to phone call centres is tricky).  But I’m loathe to give personal details (credit card details in this case) to yet another organisation, despite NGTS’s assurances that it is perfectly safe to do so.  I feel the same way about using them to phone the doctor.  It’s one thing describing your symptoms to the receptionist at the medical centre or to the doctor but quite another, I find, not to feel embarrassed about an NGTS operator listening in.  Irrational I know, but there you are.  More to the point, we should have the choice of how we communicate and, even more to the point, many people with hearing loss who struggle with the telephone don’t have NGTS.  At my hearing loss support group, for example, several of us have reached the stage where the telephone is a real struggle (or worse) but only one of us (me) has NGTS.  You can read my earlier posts about NGTS under Gadgets in the menu bar.  I still think it’s brilliant, but not for everything.






8 thoughts on “The power of doing small things

  1. I’m a serial complainer. British Gas, BT, marketing mail companies have all felt my wrath over the years. I find that the bigger that organisations become the more they lose touch with what is best for customers and incompetence sets in.

    My mobile phone company, Three, have just had a “tongue lashing” via an online complaint facility.

    I don’t use contact centres whether UK based or overseas, for obvious reasons.

    My wife thinks I’m practicing for “Victor Meldrew-ism” for when I retire!


    1. Hello Ian. Victor Meldrew was unfairly maligned, I think. I wouldn’t call myself a serial complainer yet but I aspire to be….
      Happy New Year

  2. Your experience with your credit card company is similar to mine, except that the outcome was not as satisfactory. I have a Nationwide card which I was using while visiting my daughter in Melbourne, Australia. Just to be sure that everything was working well, I went onto the internet to have a look at my card account and I was startled to see that a couple of days previously somebody had managed to debit my account and bought something in Tesco in Reading, back in the UK. Not me, obviously, because I was in Australia. So then I was faced with contacting Nationwide to try to put a block on the account. I searched the Nationwide webpages for a means of contacting their fraud department, but (like you) all I could find were telephone numbers which were useless to me. In the end I managed to get the account blocked, only because my son-in-law telephoned for me. But what a pantomime that was because Nationwide was reluctant, even obstructive, about letting him speak on my behalf, but eventually we were successful. When I returned home I went into my local Nationwide branch and despite spending an hour with a senior employee, he offered no solution if the same thing happened again. Not that Nationwide is the only bank/building society which is unwilling to face the problems which deaf people have. Santander would not let my wife speak on my behalf when they telephoned me not so long ago, even though I was standing next to her.

    1. Hello Ivan
      What a sorry saga, bringing back memories of similar things happening to me. I was amazed when my credit card company (it was Co-op Bank Visa, by the way) replied so positively. But we shouldn’t be amazed, should we? We deserve to be taken account of.
      Best wishes

  3. Vera. I can well understand you not wanting to use NGTS revealing sensitive information such as bank details. So saying this NGTS can be very useful for general phone calls. If I have ever been asked the nature of my appointment with a GP I refuse to state what it is when using NGTS,
    Some banks operate an online chat which might be more helpful as you will be dealing direct with a bank employee. At one time I was able to go into my bank and see a member of staff to sort anything out, now I have to make an appointment, which I assume would mean a phone call!
    Jose, my optician sends me a text the day before my appointment, just as a reminder, did you not explain that you can’t use the phone so then the problem is then passed back into their hands. The same with my dentist, if I don’t turn up or cancel the appointment then I am fined. As an ex employee of the NHS I think this method should be looked at for patients who don’t turn up to doctors appointments as there is such a huge waste of appointments that could be given to other people.

    1. Hi there Patricia. Yes, on line chat options are just as good as letters, when companies have them and let you use them. I was delighted to find one on the Highways Department website when a tree blew down blocking our lane a couple of months ago, but I had a terrible job convincing the person I was “chatting” to that she should pass the information on to the relevant team. “You must ring them”, she said. “But I can’t”, I said. Eventually, she passed the message on but “just this once”. Grrrrrr

  4. I always complain to firms that do not allow me to use email etc rather than phone! And I have just changed opticians because my previous ones wanted me to phone to confirm attendance of the day of appointment! Did not want email. So am using one now the not only accepts emails but sent me a better time by email for appointment and do not need me to phone!

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