Introducing the Petty Complaints Ombudsman Service
Good evening, and if you're not having a good evening, what are you going to do about it? If the weather's not quite right, or your dinner's gone cold, or there's nothing on the television, or if the noise of the neighbours enjoying themselves is annoying you, then until now you've just had to lump it.
I say 'until now' since from the beginning of this month, people across the country have been able to submit their trifling, inconsequential whinges to us here at the Petty Complaints Ombudsman Service, where we will treat them with the respect they deserve.
Take this example from Gordon Bovary. Gordon is from Kidderminster, so he has a lot to complain about, but his current gripe reads like this:
Every night this week I have come home to find a cheap family hatchback parked on the road outside my house. Not only is this car a filthy, bird muck-encrusted eyesore, it has been wilfully positioned in such a way that I have had to walk an extra seven feet in order to reach my front gate.
This is intolerable.
Naturally I have remained alert all week and yesterday I was fortunate enough to catch its owner returning just as I was having my tea. I rushed out to remonstrate with him, angrily gesturing with a fork, and such was my haste that a half-eaten sausage was still impaled on its tines. He could clearly see that I meant business as I forcefully pointed out what rude and anti-social behaviour he was exhibiting.
Do you know what he said? 'It's a free country,' he said. Just like that, the barefaced swine.
Well, I told him. Not when I pay road tax, it isn't. Then he started jabbering on about legal rights and some such stuff, but I wasn't really listening because I was acutely aware that my tea was getting cold.
Anyway, I'm right though, aren't I? Aren't I though? Eh?
Well, that one's going straight in the shredder. But not all of our complaints are about parking. Most of them are, but not all. Take this email from Jenny_Catlover45552, for example.
are u the peeple wot I complane 2 about the peeple nextdoor, there dog is barkin all the day and they wont do nuthing about it. on wensday it come over the fense and started mesing in my gardin. i tol them that they woznt to let it come over and that if it come over again i wos goin to ring the police and get them done. but then the man sed to me to F off, but i didn't F off, i tol him to F off then i chucked his dog poo back over the fense. then i rung up the police but they sed it woz nuthing to do with them and they sed i shud put it in riting to u. to be honest, it sounded like they woz telling me to F off azwell. so can you arrest my naybour please?
We've got people trying to decipher that one at the moment and will reply in due course - although it's highly likely that our response will be along the same lines as the one the police gave her.
One thing we find is that many of our correspondents are highly knowledgeable legal experts, and obviously this makes our job a whole lot easier. For instance, we have experts on consumer affairs:
I want something done about our local supermarket as they have flagrantly violated my legal rights. Every day for the past year and a half I have been buying a salmon and dill sandwich, a packet of cheese and onion crisps and a diet coke as part of their meal deal. Yesterday lunchtime when I went to make my usual purchases I was told by the assistant that the salmon and dill sandwich is no longer part of the deal. I explained to her that she was actually breaking the law and she had to include the sandwich in the meal deal because of the Consumer Credit Act, but she pretended to not know what I was talking about. She refused to budge even when I told her she could be arrested, so I would like something done about this shameful situation immediately.
Hi there. Hope you are well.
I've got a problem. The woman who runs the newsagent's near the station is five minutes late in opening up every morning, meaning that I am always late in purchasing my newspaper. This always makes me very anxious that I may miss my train. This hasn't happened yet, but I'm aware that it's bound to happen at some point in time, and this anxiety provides me with a very uncomfortable start to the day and makes me feel on edge all the time.
As a junior employee of a small logistics company, I know that lateness is one of three things that constitutes gross misconduct (the others being theft and swearing at the boss's children). It is my belief, therefore, that this woman should be sacked.
I have made a few brief enquiries and it turns out that this woman is in fact the owner of the business. Due to this technicality she remains unwilling to dismiss herself, even though I spent some time arguing the point with her just the other morning. I told her in no uncertain terms that her status as proprietor in no way absolved her of her legal duty to sack herself, but she stubbornly refused. Distressingly, as a result of that conversation I missed my train and was banned from the shop for life - which I believe is yet another breach of the law as it contravenes my human rights.
Anyway thanks. Hope you can sort this out.
Assistant to the Executive Head of Meetings
Frisbee Digitally Tracked Logistical Interface Solutions
This email and any attachment is intended for the addressee only. If you have received it in error please don't say anything to my boss. I shouldn't really be doing this during work time, let alone using my work account. In fact, I probably didn't send it all. Yeah, that's it - I bet Kevin sent it when I nipped off to the toilet and forgot to lock my workstation. All right?
And on health and safety:
Hey! Whenever I'm watching the TV and the ads come on the volume always goes up. Surely this is illegal because it could damage my hearing? I'M NOT BLOODY DEAF, YOU KNOW! Anyway, can you see about getting me some compensation?
It's easy to form the opinion that the authors of complaints such as these are spoilt time-wasters with zero sense of perspective and far too much time on their hands. But such an outlook would be doing them a disservice and putting me out of a job. Here at the Petty Complaints Ombudsman Service we realise that everyone has a right to an opinion, however worthless it may be, and by inviting these whinging gasbags to send their ridiculous grievances our way we are at least sparing everyone else the pain of having to deal with them.
If you have a petty and frivolous complaint, and you're looking for someone to pretend to take you seriously, please submit it below and it will be ignored in due course.