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Registering a Complaint in Paris: Paris Travel Tip #28

Making a Complaint

One of the hardest things to do when you’re in a foreign country is to make a complaint. And France, being perfect in every way, does not take complaints lightly.

Here is the important thing to remember:
1) The person to whom you are speaking is never wrong, and never at fault.
2) You are never wrong and never at fault.

Once you’ve established the fact that both you, the complainer, and he or she, the listener are perfect in every way – you’re off to a very good start. Now, it’s time to ferret out the culprit. You can accuse any innocent bystander (preferably not your spouse or your significant other).

State your problem. To which, the somewhat aloof listener will say one of two things:
“I am very sorry, Monsieur, Madame, but there is nothing I can do for you. ” OR
“That is impossible.”

These are the two statements that every person involved in hotel services, public services, retail sales, public transport, etc. learns to say – on reflex. Ignore it.

Stand quietly in front of the person as immobile and imposing as Notre Dame. Then, choose to state your problem in another way, in a personable way, as if you were explaining your dilemma to a family member. Do you see the ice beginning to melt yet?

This is about the time, that the blame for your problem will be cast upon that unsuspecting employee (probably the one who took the day off) and the ‘call to arms’ will be rung to resolve your complaint.
I cannot guarantee that this scenario will always unfurl in this manner, but on numerous occasions, I have found that ‘impossible’ is entirely ‘possible’.

>> Get more Paris travel tips from a local before you go!