The BBC run a centralized duty log for dealing with all complaints about their radio, television, internet and teletext services. All minor complaints should be reported by telephone to this number. More serious complaints should be sent by conventional mail to the Programme Complaints department. I have only done this on one occasion, when a Ceefax page was misleading, factually incorrect and showed many signs of double standards.

To recap - if the complaint is:

A minor irritation
Call the duty log on with your comments on +44(0)8700 100 222
More serious
Call the duty log on +44(0)8700 100 222 leave your name and number and request a response
A serious breach of standards
Write to Fraser Steel,
Head of Programme Complaints,
Broadcasting House
London,
W1A 1AA.
United Kingdom

However friendly and helpful the person on the other end of the line may be do not expect a response to your complaint. If you know of a more effective way of complaining please node it!

Oh my, Auntie! Warts to complain about deary?

Quite a few years ago I enjoyed listening to the BBC World Service on shortwave radio.

Around that time I had found the BBC World Service Shop, on the internet, and saw this big umbrella with a BBC logo on it. I wanted one! I called the shop directly to order it. They started gathering order info and I was quickly told they could not sell it to me because my shipping address was not in the U.K.

It was easy to telephone the BBC and complain. I was quickly transferred to various departments, sections, divisions and locations. It wasn't a rat's nest; more like a hive. If you were clever, and things went bonzo, you could waste time and have fun (well, I'm easily amused).

I wondered. Why will the BBC World Service not take my money in exchange for one of their umbrellas with a BBC logo? I called back several times trying to get one. Their refusals never made any sense to me. Silly me.

They deserve credit for having provided interesting customer support experiences.

I called numerous times, trying to convince them to make a policy change, or maybe an exception?-- just for me? Please?

After a couple more calls, somehow, I was transferred to the staff bar apparently at the main hive, Astronaut House, in London.

I was thinking, "Wow, imagine that, They've got a BBC bar!", and, "Maybe I'm finally getting somewhere?", Heh. I imagined a pleasant wood paneled room, with pictures of Kings and Queens and Prime Ministers on the walls (Sir Winston Churchill, I hope), as well as some shots of upper crust management. Maybe a couple dart boards or a billiards table in there? I don't know-- if you've been there, tell me how far off-base is this.

I talked with the bartender first, I said something like, "Well, I know this seems a bit strange, but there's a small problem getting an umbrella from BBC World Service". She said, "Sorry, 'ave no I-dear wot yer tarwking about." I said, "I've been directed here, and I'm quite sure there must be someone there who can help me-- please!?"

The bartender said, " 'Old on, oil see." That gave me a warm feeling.

Sure enough, a few seconds later, I heard a very crisp, "Hello, may I help you?". and I indicated my concern was with the World Service and the umbrella they offered for sale. He told me, in a rather plummy voice, "I work in the main news room, but there's a chap across the bar who works in World Service".

I said "That's great! If you would, could you hand me over to him, please?"

After saying "Hi, hello", and confirming the other fellow did work in BBC World Service, I asked: "I wonder why can't I buy a BBC umbrella from the BBC World Service Shop?" The bar was a little loud, and he yelled back, "Why you can't buy an umbrella from the BBC World Service shop?" I yelled, "Yes, I'd really like to buy one, but they tell me they can't sell it to me." He asked, "Where are you located?", and I told him, "I'm in America". He said "Ah, well you can buy those things, but only in the shop here." I said I'd think about it. He said "Yes, on your next trip, why don't you stop in and buy it here." It wasn't really a question, more like a dismissal.

I had to say (you may know I can be snotty), "I thought this was 'THE WORLD SERVICE'? You can't mail an umbrella overseas? Is that World Service? It's not exactly rocket science, is it?" He indicated he was sorry, but he didn't make the rules.

I finally knew I was done. Although I tried valiantly to give my money to BBC World Service, in exchange for one BBC brolly, offered for sale on their World Service internet web site, they finally got me to give up on buying one.

This happened many years ago, and the BBC now has a shop just for folks in USA (branded as BBC America). But, the last time I looked, they did not have any brollies with the BBC logo on them. I find all of this curious from a business point of view.

Re-reading this, the word snide comes to mind. People don't like snide, unless it's tongue in cheek and smooth, and what I write is not (is snot?).

Now, if you're in America, you can (last time I checked) buy a Union Jack Collapsible Umbrella, from BBC America, but not one with the letters BBC on it. I think that's an interesting business decision.

PS
I now watch BBC America News. It's very good. I especially like seeing Lyse Doucet's reports.

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