A. Watch Part 1 of a short programme about how to complain. What do you think are the top five things that people complain about in hotels?

B. Now watch Part 2. Phil, a hotel guest, complains in three situations. What does he do wrong each time? How does he do it better the second time?



1   Air-conditioning (24% of complaints)

2   Wi-fi (14% of complaints)

3   Noise (11% of complaints)

4   Rooms not being clean (10% of complaints)

5   Slow or bad service (9% of complaints)


Situation 1 – the air-conditioning doesn’t work.

Phil complains to the wrong person, the chambermaid, but she can’t fix it, and it isn’t her job to ask somebody else to fix it.

The second time Phil complains to the right person, the receptionist, who can arrange for the air-conditioning to be fixed.

Situation 2

The waiter brings Phil the wrong things for breakfast – he wanted brown toast and a cappuccino. Phil complains to the right person, the waiter, but he then accepts the white toast and the cappuccino. There’s no point complaining if you don’t want a solution to the problem.

The second time Phil asks the waiter to bring the right toast and coffee, as soon as possible, so his problem is solved.

Situation 3

Phil’s room was noisy and the wi-fi was slow. Phil complains when he’s checking out at the end of his stay, so it’s too late to do anything about it. He’s also rude and aggressive.

The second time he complains politely and at the right time, so the receptionist can give him a new room and investigate the problem with the wi-fi.


How to complain

Part 1


Hello, and welcome to Ten-Minute Travel for all your travel tips, news and reviews. Many of us travel a lot, on holiday or for work, and that often means staying in a hotel. So today we’re looking at hotel problems, and what we should do when things go wrong. The hotel industry is a competitive one, and hotels really do want you to enjoy your stay, especially in this digital age, where guests can leave good or bad reviews instantly. But sometimes things go wrong – let’s start by looking at the top five complaints.

Air-conditioning is top of the list, with nearly a quarter of all the complaints. At number two, is wi-fi, with fourteen per cent of people complaining that the hotel wi-fi is too slow or that they can’t connect. Eleven per cent of hotel guests have had problems with noise, either from the street outside or from neighbouring rooms. And a similar number have complained about their room not being clean enough. And finally, in fifth place – service. Nine per cent of guests have suffered from slow or bad service, especially with hotel breakfasts or room service.


Part 2

J = Joanne, C = chambermaid, P = Phil, R = receptionist, W = waiter

J    So what should you do if you have one of these problems? What’s the best way to complain? Let’s look at three examples of how not to do it. Here’s Phil, a hotel guest who’s on a work trip.

C   Oh, sorry, sir! I’ll come back later.

P   No, it’s fine, go ahead. It’s so hot in here, I couldn’t sleep. I can’t get the air-conditioning to work. Can you see if you can fix it?

 I’m sorry, sir, I don’t really know about the air-conditioning.

 Well, I’m afraid I don’t know about it either.

 I’ll tell reception later.

  So what did Phil do wrong? The first rule of complaining is to complain to the right person. The chambermaid can’t fix Phil’s air-conditioning and it isn’t her job to get it fixed. Phil needs to go down and complain to reception – it’s always better to complain in person, rather than just phoning. So, let’s take a look at how Phil should have complained.

R   Good morning, sir, how can I help you?

P   Good morning. I think there’s a problem with the air-conditioning in my room – room forty-two. It’s very hot and I can’t get it cooler. Could you ask someone to have a look at it before this evening?

R   Of course, sir. I’ll do it right away.


W   Here you are, sir. Bacon and eggs, toast and an espresso.

P    I think I asked for brown toast. And a cappuccino, not an espresso.

W   Brown toast and a cappuccino? I’m very sorry, sir. The order must have got mixed up.

P    Never mind. I’m in a hurry. I’ll have the espresso.

W   And the toast? I can bring you some brown toast in a few minutes.

P    OK then. Oh, it doesn’t matter. White toast will be OK.

W   Thank you, sir.

J      Here Phil complains to the right person, but there’s no point complaining if you don’t want somebody to do something about it. If you want to complain successfully, you need to know what your ideal solution is and make it clear. So, let’s take a look at how Phil should have complained.

W   Bacon and eggs, toast and an espresso.

P    I think I asked for brown toast. And a cappuccino, not an espresso.

W   Brown toast and a cappuccino? I’m very sorry, sir. The kitchen must have made a mistake.

  If you could change them, that would be great. And as quickly as you can please. I don’t have much time.

W   Of course, sir. I’ll be right back.


R   Good morning, sir. Can I help you?

P   Yes, I’d like to check out, please.

R   Of course, sir. I hope you enjoyed your stay.

P   No I didn’t enjoy it at all. My room was noisy and the wi-fi was slow – it was impossible to get any work done. I certainly won’t be recommending this hotel; you can be sure of that.

R   I’m very sorry to hear that, sir.

J    Why complain about your room and the wi-fi when you’re checking out? You should always complain as soon as you notice a problem. If you wait till later, the hotel might not have the chance to put the problem right. Above all – and this is probably the most important tip – never be rude or aggressive. If you complain politely, you’re far more likely to be successful. A smile will always make people want to help you. So, let’s take a look at how Phil should have complained.

R   Hello again, sir. Can I help you?

P   Yes, I’ve been trying to do some work in my room and there’s a lot of traffic noise from the street. Would it be possible to move to a different room, maybe at the back of the hotel?

R   I’ll see what we have. Yes, we do have a room free…overlooking the garden.

P   That sounds perfect. I also noticed the wi-fi seems to be very slow. It’s like being at home.

R   I’ll get someone to look at that right away, sir. Here’s your new room key. Just let me know if you’re still having problems with the wi-fi in ten minutes.

P   Thanks very much.

J   Finally, remember that if you’re staying in a good hotel, they’ll always want the chance to put things right. But they can’t help you if they don’t know there’s a problem, so you should always complain. And now you know how!

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