mom says she “made a career of complaining” | Personal Finances | Finance
Helen Dewdney, 52, has been passionate about what is right since the age of 12 and loves nothing more than helping people defend themselves. In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk she tells readers how she made it her career and shares some of her secrets.
Helen certainly knows her field when it comes to consumer rights – she runs the Complaining Cow blog and YouTube channel, has written a bestselling book called How to Complain Effectively – The Essential Guide to Getting Refunds. She also appears regularly on television screens as a consumer champion and rights activist.
Looking back, it all started when Helen was in school and founder of the school magazine. She remembers being annoyed because the girls wanted to play netball but never got the chance because the boys and girls were pushed together for physical education classes.
“I spoke to my father, who casually said, ‘I wonder what the sex discrimination law would say about this.’
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“So I decided to ask the whole school through the magazine. Results? I was prevented from producing the magazine. However, the discrimination, as I saw it, stopped the following week and we played netball.
This first taste of success sparked a long-standing love to stand up for what is right, Helen recalls a few other times when her strong will was put to the test and she was forced to face the big boys. .
She said: “As a teenager I wrote to Jackie magazine about an organization that was fundraising for alternatives to animal testing and had my letter printed. They didn’t pay so I had to write and complain.
Clearly for Helen, it’s not about the money – it’s about helping others get damages for shoddy merchandise or poor customer service.
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Helen has helped many people over the years, but a 70-year-old fan was so thrilled that she wrote a review on Amazon to say that she hired a double glazing company and won because of her advice.
She wrote: “I had been fighting for eight months with a double glazing company to make it fit the front door I ordered, not the one they decided to give me.
“If you’re fighting a big corporation where most of the communication goes through one of those horrible call centers, where you never talk to the same person twice, and they never give you a constructive response, then get this book! “
Another client, Lily Ryan, received £ 1,500 in compensation after she used Helen’s advice to complain about choking on a piece of plastic in a protein bar.
Ms Ryan said: ‘They tried to put me off with £ 50 so I went to the top. After many email exchanges I finally got £ 1,500! “
Helen loves to help others and has always fought on behalf of her friends and family for redress if she felt she was justified in doing so.
She started the Complaining Cow blog in 2013 when someone suggested that she share her experience, wisdom, and stories with others.
Soon after, it became apparent that there was a gap in the market, so she published her book: How to Complain Effectively – The Essential Guide to Getting Refunds.
The book is packed with helpful tips to help people complain effectively, including:
1) Always complain in writing as this will also serve as evidence – be objective and polite
2) Don’t be afraid to cite consumer laws like the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations
3) Set a deadline by which you expect a response
4) Say what you want as a reward. Is it an apology, a refund, something for the inconvenience? Be reasonable but assertive.
5) Tell them what you will do if you do not receive a satisfactory answer
While Helen has helped people save thousands of pounds over the years, she’s definitely not here for the money.
She was enthusiastic: “What I love is that I empower people rather than doing it for them and that they have access to this advice for free on my blog and through the book.”
In addition to battling the corner of the individual, she now works alongside large companies, sharing her knowledge with them to help them provide good customer service.
With Helen’s help, the hope is that fewer people will feel the need to complain in the first place.