Complaining is the only way to get ahead

Blaise Tapp
Blaise Tapp

There was a time when the average Briton was viewed by the rest of the world as someone who would obediently stand in line while everybody else pushed to the front.

There would be no complaint made, as that was the un-British way of doing things - we wouldn’t want any fuss. Of course that image is now as past its sell-by date as the career prospects of a Liberal Democrat, if it ever was anything other than a lazy caricature.

I personally don’t think we have ever been that backwards when it comes to standing up for our rights - my earliest memory is cowering at the top of the stairs as my incandescent mother tore strips off the poor girl at the catalogue company because she could not give an answer to why the newly delivered Sodastream wouldn’t work.

She was not on her own as nearly everybody I knew had a battleaxe mother at home, ready to be unleashed on anybody who dared to diddle her family. Despite this, it seems to have become accepted that we are better at complaining than we used to be.

For many, me included, venting our spleen at some poor unfortunate devil from Wales at the other end of the phone is now part of modern life.

It has to been said that there is arguably more for us to complain about following the dawn of the digital age which has broadened our horizons far beyond the local high street, therefore exposing us the consumer to an increased number of potential pitfalls.

It is also the case that the general public is both better informed of their rights and there are far more channels through which to complain about poor service or rubbish goods then there ever were in the 1980s, when the ‘complaints department’ was a PO Box address, long before the rise of call centres.

Today we are invited to complain, although I have yet to meet anybody who has ever got through to those numbers on the ‘How am I driving?’ sticker, normally found on the back of courier vans. I have long suspected that any caller trying to get through on that number will be put through to my utility company and will therefore become fed up of waiting after 30 minutes of listening to a pipe music medley of U2 - it is no longer Greensleeves.

Such is the interest in standing up for our rights, that a television series championing Britain’s best complainers and consumer vigilantes is currently on our screens. One complainer in particular is destined to be remembered by the public long after the series is consigned to teatime repeats on Channel 121 and his name is Traffic Droid.

In case you have yet to be acquainted with him - and it is unlikely unless you are a London minicab driver - Traffic Droid is a rather imposing looking cyclist who dresses in black and has cameras positioned strategically on his body and is intent on bringing poor motorists to book.

While not being a complainer in the truest sense of the word, Traffic Droid is doing what most of us only dream of doing, he is taking the law into his own hands.

It is only natural that Britain will continue to produce more Traffic Droids and that stiff upper lip will be consigned to history.