James Daley

By James Daley

Customer service is second rate in Britain, and often much worse. But if we're treated badly by our airline, our supermarket, our bank or just about anyone - many of us are left with a feeling of resignation that it simply isn't worth complaining. Unless we're left seriously out of pocket, it just doesn't feel worth it.

It's become a race to the bottom. Low customer expectations have let companies off the hook. And as someone who makes it their business to complain on a regular basis - I'm amazed how little effort companies make to put things right. Over the last couple of years, I've complained to two supermarkets, a shop, two airlines, two phone companies, a credit card company and an online gaming company - and not one of them have tried to send me away feeling that they care.

If I get a bad outcome, I make a point of taking my business elsewhere - but most people don't bother. They fear that in all probability, every company is as bad as the next. But until customers start complaining more regularly, and voting with their feet when they get a poor outcome, there's no incentive for companies to improve.

Enter Resolver

All this may be about to change. A start-up called Resolver offers consumers a single portal to complain about everything from shops to telecoms companies to airlines to insurers. It creates template letters and sends them out on your behalf - storing all your correspondence with the company you're complaining about - and even keeping a case file for you once the issue is resolved.

And if it isn't resolved, it's a specialist in helping you understand how to escalate your case to the next level, be that to an Ombudsman or the courts.

When I first came across Resolver, my suspicion was that this was just a slicker, digital breed of ambulance chaser - encouraging customers to complain, and taking a slug of any compensation that they may win. But Resolver is free for customers to use, and plans to make its money by offering to run the complaints departments of smaller companies, and by selling insights from its vast database of complaints that it hopes to end up sitting on.

If it's run responsibly, it has great potential - and if it becomes widely used, it will severely curtail companies' ability to wear down complainants by stringing out the process. When a complaint arrives through Resolver, companies will know that the complainant will be given every assistance to pursue the matter until it is satisfactorily resolved. And by removing the hassle from complaining, many more customers will be willing to take those extra steps.

Over time, Resolver will also be sitting on an ever-more valuable pool of data. If it's published, it will give consumers a much better insight into which companies are doing a good job at complaints handling than current sources such as the FCA and Financial Ombudsman Service stats do.

So if you've been delayed at the airport, received the wrong items in your shop, been overcharged on your energy bill or ended up with a poor quality gadget which was broken within months of being bought - then give Resolver a go. If it's successful, it will be good for all of us.