6 Minute English
Are you good at complaining?
Episode 191003 / 30 Sep 2019
- Does your name start with the wrong letter?
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When a company's service is not to your satisfaction, how do you complain? What's the best way to get what you want? And when has complaining been completely futile? Sam and Rob discuss people's readiness to complain and teach you vocabulary.
This week's question
The oldest recorded complaint is on a stone tablet in the British Museum. It’s nearly 4000 years old. What was the complaint about?
a) An incorrect number of goats that were delivered after being bought at market.
b) The quality of copper bars that were supplied.
c) The non-payment of a bill for a banquet.
Listen to the programme to find out the answer.
an area of business within the economy, for example: the telecommunications sector
a natural part of something, usually a difficulty or risk, that can’t be avoided
if a company is performing well, it is being successful
strongest, most used
to escalate (adj, noun: escalation)
to take something to a higher level, for example to escalate a complaint if you are not satisfied with the first response
to deal with (a problem or complaint)
to try to fix a problem or resolve a complaint
Note: This is not a word for word transcript
Hello, this is 6 Minute English. I'm Sam.
And I'm Rob.
Are good at complaining, Rob?
Of course not. I’m British! I never complain, even when I get terrible service. It’s just too embarrassing.
Well, you might be in a minority now as it seems we British are complaining more than we used to. We’ll look at this topic a little more after this week’s quiz question. The oldest recorded complaint is on a stone tablet in the British Museum. It’s nearly 4000 years old. What was the complaint about?
a) An incorrect number of goats that were delivered after being bought at market
b) The quality of copper bars that were supplied, or
c) The non-payment of a bill for a banquet
What do you think, Rob?
I’m just going to guess at the goats. Someone bought a load of goats and fewer were delivered than were bought. That sounds good, but it’s just a guess.
OK. Well, I will reveal the answer later in the programme, and don’t complain if you get it wrong! You and Yours is a BBC radio programme about consumer affairs. On a recent programme they discussed the topic of complaining and customer service with Giles Hawke from an organisation called the Institute of Customer Service. He talks about different sectors. A sector is a particular area of business. Which sectors does he say have most problems when it comes to keeping the complaining customer satisfied?
The sectors that probably have more problems than the UK average are public services, telecommunications, transport and service sector. And there are probably some inherent challenges within those sectors - they may have more impact on a day-to-day basis. Those sectors which are performing well … travel is performing well, retail is performing well, leisure appears to be performing well.
So, which sectors are not keeping the customer satisfied?
He says that public services, telecoms, transport and the service sector have most problems.
And he says that these sectors may have inherent challenges. What does he mean by that?
Well, some sectors, by their nature, are more complicated and more likely to cause problems for customers. Public services, for example, often don’t have enough money or enough staff. Telecommunications systems, such as your internet connection, are very complicated and sometimes go wrong. Bad weather can affect transport, and so on. So an inherent problem is a problem that is part of the nature of the thing itself.
So, those sectors are not performing well. We usually think of the word perform when we are talking about actors or musicians, but in a business sense to perform well or badly means to be successful or not, and, according to Giles Hawke, travel and retail are performing well in terms of customer service.
Giles Hawke goes on to talk about how people are actually making their complaints, but are modern methods taking over from the traditional letter or phone call?
We still see over 58% of complaints are made by phone or by letter so, you know, the more traditional methods of making a complaint are still dominant, but we are seeing social media rise, although it’s still a very small part of how people complain and it tends to be used as an escalation point if people aren’t getting what they want dealt with in the first instance.
So, are people using modern methods more than traditional ones?
Actually, no. He says that phoning or writing a letter are still dominant. This means they are still the main, most used methods for making a complaint.
Where people are turning to social media is if their complaint is not dealt with. To deal with something means to sort it, to fix it – and if you complain and it’s not dealt with, then, he says, people turn to social media as a form of escalation.
When you escalate a complaint, you take it to a higher level. Putting your complaint on social media means that a lot more people are going to see it and it might encourage a company to deal with the complaint.
Right, well before we receive any complaints, let’s review today’s vocabulary after the answer to the question which was about a 4000-year-old complaint. Was the complaint about:
a) An incorrect number of goats that were delivered after being bought at market.
b) The quality of copper bars that were supplied, or
c) The non-payment of a bill for a banquet.
Rob, what did you say?
I went for a). I went for the goats.
Sorry! It was actually a complaint about the quality of copper ingots or bars that were supplied. If you knew that, very well done. If you guessed right, also, very well done. No shame to get that one wrong.
And no complaints from me!
OK. Right, now vocabulary. We had sectors,which are particular areas of business in the economy.
Something that is inherent is a natural part of something. It’s usually used to describe a problem or risk that is an unavoidable part of something.
How successful a company is can be describe as how well it’s performing. And if something is dominant, it means it is the strongest or most used.
And if a company doesn’t deal with, or try to fix a problem, the customer might take the complaint to the next level on social media, which would mean an escalation.
Thank you, Rob. That’s all from 6 Minute English this time. Do join us again soon and don’t forget to check us out online. Bye bye!
6 Minute English dhihoo kanaa
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A London apartment block has front and back entrances for private and social housing - or so-called rich and poor doors. Does it make sense to you? Listen to a discussion whilst learning some housing-related vocabulary
Episode 150514 / 14 May 2015
Fifty years ago, on 18 March 1965, Soviet astronaut Alexei Leonov took the first space walk. Listen to Rob and Neil describing the struggles of that ground-breaking space mission whilst explaining some related vocabulary.
Episode 150507 / 07 May 2015
Furniture with built-in wireless charging technology - like a coffee table is now being sold. 'Built-in' means the technology is included as part of the table. So you just pop your phone on the table, and technology does the rest!
Episode 150430 / 30 Apr 2015
Many animals face extinction. But people are realising that they must act now to stop further losses. A scheme to save the Asian elephant in China could provide an answer.
Episode 150423 / 23 Apr 2015
How does music make you feel? Research shows that it actually influences us more than we realise - whether we're at the movies, the supermarket, or down the pub
Episode 150416 / 16 Apr 2015
Coffee is now the most popular drink in the world. But what about the economics and politics of coffee production? It's as complicated as getting the right flavour in your cup
Episode 150409 / 09 Apr 2015
Rob and Neil put on their sunglasses to find out more about this special star and teach some related vocabulary. We promise you won’t be blinded with science!
Episode 150402 / 02 Apr 2015
The UK has become the first country to approve legislation allowing the creation of babies with genetic material from three people. Listen to Neil and Harry’s conversation and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 150326 / 26 Mar 2015
What are some art galleries banning to protect their paintings? Find out with Neil and Harry
Episode 150319 / 19 Mar 2015
An electronic device under your skin?! Workers in Sweden take part in experiment which allows them to get in and out of their office without a key, ID or password. Listen to Neil and Harry’s chat and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 150312 / 12 Mar 2015
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s death. He is known throughout the world for his role in defeating Nazi Germany but he also made mistakes. Listen to Neil and Mike’s discussion, and learn new vocabulary.
Episode 150305 / 05 Mar 2015
We live in a richer world. But the gap between rich and poor is still very wide in individual countries. How to change this? Listen to Rob and Harry’s discussion, and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 150226 / 26 Feb 2015
The price of vaccines has escalated and some poor countries are struggling to prevent children from catching certain life-threatening diseases, says Medecins Sans Frontieres. Listen to Rob and Neil’s discussion, and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 150219 / 19 Feb 2015
Will thinking computers be the end of humans? Listen to Rob and Neil’s chat and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 150212 / 12 Feb 2015
About 37,000 tourists are expected to visit Antarctica this season. But should they be going to a region with such a sensitive environment? Listen to Rob and Neil’s conversation and learn some new vocabulary.
Episode 150205 / 05 Feb 2015
At a time when more people compete for fewer jobs, are you sure you present your skills and abilities well to a potential employer? Listen to Rob and Neil's conversation and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 150129 / 29 Jan 2015
Going to a party where you don't know anyone? Listen to Rob and Neil's advice and learn some related vocabulary
Episode 150122 / 22 Jan 2015
We use computers for everything nowadays. Are we forgetting our own abilities - and losing our talent? Listen to Rob and Neil's discussion, and learn some related vocabulary
Episode 150115 / 15 Jan 2015
Smoking in cars with children might be banned in England. Listen to Neil and Rob's chat and learn some related vocabulary
Episode 150108 / 08 Jan 2015
Is bullying just an attempt to give a bad name to what is part of human nature? Listen to Rob and Neil’s chat and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 150101 / 01 Jan 2015
What would you put in your time capsule? Listen to Rob and Neil’s chat and learn new vocabulary
Episode 141225 / 25 Dec 2014
When enemy soldiers sang together in WW1. Listen to Rob and Finn’s chat and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 141218 / 18 Dec 2014
The London school where students speak 42 different languages
Episode 141211 / 11 Dec 2014
Laughter isn't always the best medicine, says research
Episode 141204 / 04 Dec 2014
Are your pictures, documents and videos safe online? Listen to Rob and Finn's chat and learn new vocabulary
Episode 141127 / 27 Nov 2014
Nowhere to park? How the sharing economy is changing the way we use our space
Episode 141120 / 20 Nov 2014
How can science fiction help the world? Rob and Finn discuss a project which aims to inspire through stories of a bright future
Episode 141113 / 13 Nov 2014
Why is eating meat bad news?
Episode 141106 / 06 Nov 2014
Do real-life superheroes exist or are they just cartoon characters?
Episode 141030 / 30 Oct 2014
Rob and Finn discuss the World Health Organisation's recommendations on e-cigarettes
Episode 141023 / 23 Oct 2014
Should we eat less sugar? Listen to Rob and Neil and learn new vocabulary
Episode 141016 / 16 Oct 2014
Is learning English getting easier? Find out what's new
Episode 141009 / 09 Oct 2014
Why do we buy so much food and not eat it all? Learn more about food waste
Episode 141002 / 02 Oct 2014
Is it right to sleep at work? Rob and Finn discuss the benefits of sleeping on the job.
Episode 140929 / 29 Sep 2014
Is the way we see famous people a new thing? Learn about the first 'modern celebrity'.
Episode 140821 / 21 Aug 2014
Bored? You're not alone. Rob and Finn discuss how to deal with boredom and teach some related vocabulary. We promise you won't be bored!