Christmas is coming – how to beat the stress of it
Christmas is just around the corner and that means it's time to get fully focused on the big day ahead.
But with so much to organise, buy and prepare for, you could be forgiven if you're finding it all a bit stressful... already!
One thing you don't have to put up with at this time of year, though, or any time of the year for that matter, is bad service.
The problem is, with so much eating, drinking, shopping and partying, there's always the chance for something to go wrong.
What's important is that when it does, you don't forget to stand up for your consumer rights, make your voice heard and raise a complaint about it.
We know from experience on resolver.co.uk that there is a sharp spike in issues at this time of year - we can see it in the cases raised for free with us in the hope of a resolution.
Our best advice is always to state your case clearly and simply. Don't take no for an answer. If you believe you're right, then stick to your guns. But it's always worth asking friends and family what they think as an acid test to know whether you're digging your heels in needlessly.
You also need to have real and tangible objectives of what you are looking for as a resolution, whether that's an apology, money back, an exchange, a discount or a path to better service.
Otherwise, if you go into a complaint all guns blazing and angry, you'll lose sight of what's important for the positive outcome that is of benefit to you. It's easy to lose focus when something goes wrong but staying calm and clear-headed will always gain you the best resolution.
No-one likes to be shouted at down the phone or in the middle of a store. Especially at Christmas. Remember, it's a time of peace and goodwill.
But with December 25th on the horizon, here are five of the key areas to think about that may end up with you needing to raise a complaint or two.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year showed how we are buying more and more presents on the internet – and that will extend to food and other items in the coming weeks.
But this leaves us open to receiving stuff we didn't order, being sent things not as described or finding items we thought were right for us actually just aren't of the quality we expected.
The Consumer Contracts regulations offer strong protection so you should always read up on them and quote these in any complaint.
And remember, you have 14 days to return goods bought online from the moment you receive them. Most online stores will take Christmas presents back into January, but it's well worth checking items as soon as they arrive just in case there's a problem before you hand it over.
Whether you're going out to a restaurant or cooking up a storm at home, you could get burned in lots of ways as Christmas approaches and you eat and drink more - including on the day itself or on Boxing Day with the family.
For example, maybe the venue you've booked might ruin your night by mucking up your table plans or the turkey you ordered via the butcher or local supermarket turns up too late to be cooked and eaten.
The key with Christmas complaints is to head them off before they happen. Make a list, and just like Santa suggests, check it twice. That way you can be as sure as you can that everything is in place to be ready for a really bumper festive season.
This is certainly one of our biggest complaint areas at this time of year - which is not surprising given the rise in the number of parcels being delivered.
With the sheer amount of goods being dropped off across the country, it usually means temporary staff being taken on and this always increases the chance of a problem as they won't be as au fait with delivery routes or packing procedures.
If you end up with goods that are damaged, take lots of pictures and send these with your complaint. You can upload images to your case using resolver.co.uk.
If something goes missing, raise it with the store and the courier company and if it cost more than £100 and was bought on a credit card then use Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act to make a complaint to the card provider who has the same liability in many cases as the place you purchased from.
Bah humbug. If there's one thing we can't tolerate, it is bad service. And at Christmas, sadly, this comes in abundance as stress levels rise throughout the service and retail industries.
But that doesn't mean you have to accept it - especially not when you're out for a good time or stressed yourself about getting all the presents and arrangements right for a big family gathering.
Remain polite at all times. Don't fall into the trap of being rude back. Explain your concerns to a supervisor or manager and ask for a simple gesture of goodwill. It is the season of goodwill after all.
This will allow you to leave the problematic establishment in question with Christmas cheer rather than anger - and maybe even a discount off a meal, a free drink or two or some money off a purchase. If you don't ask...
OK, we admit it, this is not one we can solve on resolver.co.uk. We may offer the chance to complain to more than 30,000 brands, companies and organisations, but we can't raise a case that will be successful to your mother-in-law, a sibling or your children.
Rows happen at Christmas, but you know what, all you need to do is talk. As with anything else, clear communication is the key to resolving any complaint – even when it's an issue within the family over an awful present, who ate the last roast potato or which relative gets first dibs on the TV remote.
Sometimes you can solve the smallest issues quickly with just a few words before they become a huge hassle. That's always the best advice we can give our users when they raise a case through our website.