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Fighting the Good Fight

Have you ever been so annoyed with the lack of service in a store that you've put down the items you wanted to buy and walked out? I have. I left the items on the counter and said to the salesperson who was "busy" chatting with her colleague, "Sorry, but you seem too busy to serve me. I'll spend my money somewhere else." It's amazing how fast they suddenly make eye contact.

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It can be hard to do that unless you have other options – the time and opportunity to buy the same or similar items elsewhere. And we Kiwis don't like to complain about poor service or goods. Americans do – they're ready, willing and completely confident about it. I know – I'm married to one. It took a little time to get over my innate cringe when he would complain about poor service but now I feel I’ve been trained by an expert. I'm a black belt in dealing with poor service – well, OK, maybe just a brown belt. There're still times when I hold back, perhaps not to embarrass others with me. Nothing is more withering than "OMG Mum! Did you have to do that in my favourite shop?!"

Having recently joined Consumer as a writer, I feel like I'm getting daily training to become a consumer ninja. I've been reading the Consumer Guarantees Act and the Fair Trading Act. Daily, I see these in action when our brilliant advisers help Consumer members with problems they ring or write in about.

At my previous employer I did a negotiation skills training course (I actually had done it once before and failed to negotiate my way out of doing it again!). Thanks to that course, two decades of involvement with customer satisfaction research and what I now learn through the Consumer magazine and website, I'm a deadly weapon. Point me at your terms and conditions. And I dare you not to make eye contact. I'm ready to rumble.

Kate Sluka