Difficulty in trying to get in touch with a business to lodge a complaint

Today I composed an email to a large Supermarket to make a complaint.
Once I sent the email, I immediately received an auto reply to inform me that: “Please note this is an unmonitored email address and is no longer in use.
To access our chat service and other contact features visit us at our contact us page located on our website at…”

It was impossible to chat as I could only use a few words, then I immediately got a robot style reply. Or, I could phone a 1300 number and wait for maybe an hour to get someone to talk to me, as I have done in the past.

This is another example of supermarkets, department stores not wanting to assist customers and using the cheaper option where it is impossible to speak to someone. They are just staling us, despite our custom and have an apparent lack of duty of care.


Would you identify the one, although being ‘large’ there are not too many options :wink:

Where did you get that email address? If it was from an older email you had from a previous exchange at least their system was updated to send you the appropriate rejection rather than putting it in a black hole of some sort, making you more angry for being ignored.

Some chats start with a simple, limited ‘what is your problem about’ window and the chat software will only accept details in a larger window once an agent is assigned.

I have also seen ‘contact forms’ purposefully designed to make it as hard to enter anything as possible - such as a window 50 mm wide where you could keep typing and it scrolls, with a ridiculously small character count accepted, and that not being divulged until you hit it. Was that the style you encountered? If so I think you are being overly kind as they clearly do not wish to engage with customers but feel compelled to go through motions to hide that reality.

Unfortunately many companies have chats that are not any more efficient for the customer. Not only does one wait for an agent, but the agent might be dealing with 5-10 customers at a time, in rotation to respond. That is a gong-winning time waste for the customer!

If you did not have to first deal with a ‘virtual agent’ you were comparatively fortunate. Although most of the ‘virtual agents’ have finally been ‘trained’ to do the right thing when one enters ‘need agent’.

It is a sign of the times where margins are slim and customer service is seen as a non-recoverable cost so any budget is apportioned under duress. Consumers will generally get over it and continue shopping with the company, or return after a brief hiatus even if unhappy. They know more about our psychology than we know about ourselves.

As a fellow mod has posted, Australian companies have a single duty of care, that being to their shareholder(s) to maximise profits. The rest is ‘window dressing’ toward that end and they make judgements on where the balance is.

I feel your pain and encounter it regularly.


I had actually contacted Woolworths previously in February this year by email and received an email reply. This is the email address I previously had.


I have a ‘collected one’ of customer_service@woolworths.com.au but cannot state when I ‘collected’ it.

Interestingly this web site shows the one you used. Perhaps it became popular enough they had to supersede it or put it into an auto-acknowledged black hole such as your experience?

Another technique many companies use to stop incoming spam is to block or ‘mark as spam’ all email originating outside their company, hence the web forms they provide that appear as being from inside the company.

I’ll second they provide a number of easy looking options to contact them, that are not all easy to use in practice. I find the most effective for me has been posting messages to them on their Facebook page, but accept not everyone is on or amenable to using FB. I have had good responses from their FB media unit over time. At least one was an ongoing and serious complaint about a particular Woolies store. They allowed an identified or anonymous submission on my behalf. I went for anonymous and voila, a few weeks later I saw changes. YMMV.


Quite often businesses use a email address to send correspondence and it the mail will advise not to reply to the email address as it is unmonitored (or for the sole purpose of sending emails). Businesses do this to prevent being inundated with spam…mixed with genuine emails like yours. If this occurs, it can take a lot of effort to sort the real emails from the spam emails.

They also do it to reduce the likelihood of a DoS, where someone or ‘group/organisation’ tries to bring down a website/server by bombarding it with attacks including overwhelming number of emails.

Woolworths on its website has information about how to contact them in relation to interactions with their supermarkets. This is usually the best option for making contact. Some businesses also allow contact through social platforms such as Instagram or Facebook.

If you are a Woolworths Rewards Member, there is also information when you login how to contact them using this pathway.


thanks for your reply and advice. I will try F Book as well as the other email option I got from you.
The information you provided is interesting.


Yes I am a rewards member so will also try your advice. Thanks


My past experience is that I have never received the courtesy of a reply from Woolworths when I have complained regarding Woollies and Big W.

I now find it easier to simply name and shame them on websites.



I empathise with irakip, but why restrict this complaint to a supermarket. The business world goes to extraordinary lengths to inhibit communication. I frequently read the reviews of products and services made by CHOICE. A fundamental issue worth a lot of points is - “how easy is it to communicate with the organisation?” This needs addressing. But for what it’s worth, I get my best results from writing a letter. Sure, it costs a stamp when an email is free, but the letter comes with the power that you took the time, effort and cost to send it. Having said that, it would seem a simple thing to enshrine in law that companies provide a ready communication channel that gives an alternative to a robot, a 1300 etc number that takes 5 minutes to get through the menu, or an email address that is not monitored.


A sign of the times, I’m afraid. You’re much more likely to get a useful response by publicly complaining on Twitter via their official Twitter address. That’s what I had to do to get Australia Post to fix a years-long problem.
I don’t use Facebook, but I expect that’d work too.


Yes, I was told by a large corporation that their customer service staff regularly monitor Facebook to check if their are any complaints about their organisation and get onto it straight away.


You have just got to love the blatant hypocrisy of these sort of grubs.

Treat their customers like dirt until they have their dirty washing hung out in public.

Little wonder that A Current Affair is so successful in resolving complaints for aggreived consumers.


where it is impossible to speak to someone ? You can and they are called staff. To me it is a sad reflection of how we do things today. Instead of actually visting the store in question if possible / practicable and speaking to the manager and likely getting the issue reslved, we tend to ‘faceless whinge’ and then have anther whinge when it all seems too hard.

For ‘Mum & Dad’ run stores this might still work (caveat emptor however). For Chain Store Businesses this is largely not a working solution, often it requires Corporate contact to resolve even fairly minor ACL issues and often the request needs to be in written form so that proof is held that contact was made. No written proof then it is just your word against a system that often denies responsibility until proven. A piece of fruit, a loaf of bread and similar such things are probably easy to resolve without the ‘faceless whinge’ as you put it. Get into safety, reliability etc and it is often a whole different kettle of fish. Some Stores are well known for recalcitrance and the personal touch approach is next to useless with them even IF you can actually find a Storefront/Management presence who are authorised to deal with problems. They are so enured to dealing this way with face to face Customers it is a burgeoning problem.

I know you said possible/practicable but this is now often not the case, as you have the added issue of the very many Online bought goods from online stores that arrive from some unknown or very distant warehouse in wherever Country it may be located (even Australia) eg Kogan.

But as the topic states this is about the often now difficult task of even contacting a person (whether online or not), most businesses have moved to faceless complaint systems that are at times difficult at best to interact with.


Hello. I find the best way to get a response from any institution, whether it be a Telco, supermarket, post office, bank - anything - is to post on their Facebook page. Every company has one and they do not like negative publicity and immediately try to rectify the situation. It has always worked for me.


When I needed to clear up a problem with Telstra a few weeks ago I went to their local branch - and they had a bouncer at the entrance! When I explained what I wanted to see someone about, I was told “We don’t deal with complaints here, you’ll have to contact us by email”. I was then politely told to stand aside as I was blocking the door.


From the Telstra web pages, bold added. You might well add a complaint about your local branch to your ‘problem’.

  • We are committed to:

    • enabling you to contact us in the way you prefer – by telephone, teletypewriter (TTY), online, in writing or in person

    • being available 24x7 for you to report any faults or service difficulties

    • enabling customers who speak a language other than English to contact us through our multicultural call centres (selected languages) or by using the Australian Government’s Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS)

    • responding to your letters and emails within five working days

    • maintaining a Sales Watch Hotline, where you can report instances of unethical sales behaviour you experience.

I do not follow Telstra, but the last one might be a relatively recent addition :wink:


Only when not a franchise Store, if you complain there they point you at the phone on the wall or they phone for you.

There’s obviously a big difference between what they claim to do and what they actually do.

And while we’re on the subject of trying to get in touch… I have an account with Samsung (for my phone), but would rather use my computer as it’s way easier to type with. But trying to sign into my account via the computer to complain about my phone is like pulling teeth. I get a constant stream of “verification codes” sent to my phone, and no access at all. How “helpful” is that?

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