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Book Reviews

Complain, Complain, Complain: The Canadian Consumer’s Guide to Getting Action

by Karen Molson

Do you have a complaint, any complaint? In this book, Ottawa writer Karen Molson attempts to address the most common consumer problems, spur the reader to action, and provide a “handy reference guide.” However, Complain, Complain, Complain leaps from broad topics to local issues, refers heavily to government agencies and ministries, and gives only an introductory lesson in problem solving.

This is not to say the book is without merit. We learn, for example, that putting one’s complaint in writing is essential, being informed about telemarketers and telemarketing fraud is beneficial, and that acquiring knowledge of all levels of government bureaucracy is just plain smart. Each chapter whets the reader’s appetite for that step-by-step process to resolution, yet the book falls short. In an effort to address the complaints and concerns of a nation, specifics are not made available.

What Complain does provide is basic information to start the complaint process. Readers with problems should not, however, concentrate their efforts with the agencies, ministries, and associations mentioned in the book – their capacity to assist in the mediation and resolution processes is overemphasized. National agencies and governmental ministries receive thousands of complaints every year; the likelihood of their active involvement is small. Add to that current government cutbacks, and readers will find that these references can offer little more than information and referrals. Consumers would be better advised to start at the grassroots level and look to their communities for help: local media, associations, volunteer groups and agencies, even neighbours. Voicing a complaint is usually just the beginning. Education – knowing consumer rights and responsibilities before acting – is essential.

For average Canadians wishing to confront that mechanic who won’t honour a warranty, who are fed up with the amount of junk mail arriving at their doorsteps, or who are frustrated by government cutbacks, this book offers limited information on effective complaining. But it will help them focus and start the process. For the seasoned Canadian consumer, who already voices his or her complaints effectively, this book offers little; much of this information is common knowledge.


Reviewer: Kate Moore

Publisher: Firefly


Price: $12.95

Page Count: 144 pp

Format: Paper

ISBN: 1-55209-098-1

Released: Feb.

Issue Date: 1997-3

Categories: Health & Self-help