All things resolution: having reasonable expectations and getting positive solutions

9 min read
March 14, 2023

We are called Resolver because we want to help every single one of our users obtain a satisfying result to their complaint – a solution that helps them feel heard, seen, and able to move forward positively. 

We do this by providing company contacts and a case file that will help you keep communications in one place, sending reminders to help you stay on top and engaged with chasing up your complaint and offering escalations that follow a given company or industry’s processes and procedures. 

However, we can’t control what solution a company offers unhappy customers. And we also can’t control how our users feel about them. 

Rather than seeing a resolution as something that is provided by the company and that the consumer just passively accepts, we know that any resolution is an act of collaboration. Whatever the company offers will require the customer to actively accept. In other words, a satisfying resolution still asks something of the consumer. 

Approaching resolution from this perspective helps to reframe the outcomes of complaints as collaborative and cooperative. But it also means that consumers must take responsibility for their own judgments, mindsets, and emotions when it comes to complaining. 

In this article, we will flag up what a resolution asks of you, the consumer. We aim to help you better understand the various ways that you can enhance the likelihood of a mutually satisfying end to the complaint.

Our guide to the different kinds of resolution companies offer – from apologies to asking for a second chance – will consider the situations in which they are most appropriate and how they help you move forward. 

The importance of having reasonable expectations

We know how frustrating it can be when you can’t control a company’s behaviour. Unfortunately, neither can we. While we help put pressure on companies to respond to their customers, they will have their own guidelines on customer care, including what kind of resolutions they may be able to offer.

But there is still a lot you can do. One thing that we want to underline is the importance of having reasonable expectations. This is the best way to avoid disappointment.

There is a saying that expectations are pre-meditated resentments. In other words, when you have unrealistic expectations you may already be eliminating any possibility of accepting a resolution and moving forward positively. 

It’s not that you shouldn’t expect a resolution at all. Rather, that you shouldn’t expect too much from a company. Having a specific and appropriate resolution in mind will ensure that you are more likely to feel satisfied when one is offered. 

What are the different kinds of resolution and when are they most appropriate 

Just as there is a huge variety of problems that a consumer can encounter, there is a huge variety of solutions to them. Most resolutions will be very specific to the complaint. But in general, we think there are roughly four main types of resolution. All of these reflect different kinds of negative experiences and their impacts on your time, money, and emotion. 

An apology

Until time travel becomes possible, there will be things that cannot be undone or prevented. Yet an apology still has the power to put things right by transforming how you feel in the present and allowing you to move into the future with your trust and confidence restored.

In this day and age, apologies can be hard to come by. Apologies are often viewed as lacking in substance or portrayed as empty words. However, we know that apologies can be powerful and are often exactly what is needed. 

The potential of apologies to reconcile relationships, initiate the restoration of trust, and reweave the social fabric is vastly underestimated. Research into the power of apologies has shown that the unwillingness of individuals or organisations to apologise is because this involves giving up power: when you apologise you are giving up your own power by asking someone to forgive you. 

An apology is an admission that something has gone wrong and that you suffered as a result. This has the power to put things right but it does require one thing: the ability to forgive. 

 If you have had a bad experience and are seeking an apology, make sure you are ready to accept it. This is essential to letting go of negativity and being able to move on collaboratively. 

Recuperating a loss 

On top of an apology, in many instances, a company may offer a refund, return, or cancellation. These all fall into the category of resolutions that attempt to ‘cancel out’ the bad experience by recuperating a financial loss. 

However, this will still require you to raise and pursue the complaint.

Whether it’s getting a parking ticket canceled or returning an item to a retailer, you will inevitably have spent time and effort contacting the company to obtain this resolution. It is important that you are able to move forwards without having residual feelings of stress from this process. 

If this is the kind of resolution you are seeking or can expect to receive, make sure you are not driving yourself crazy by expending excessive amounts of time or energy chasing the company up. This cannot be returned or remunerated, so you may find yourself having had your issue resolved but still feeling out of pocket in terms of time and emotional labour. 

Offering a second chance or do-over

The company may not be able to undo your bad experience with a product or service. But they may ask for a second chance to show you that they can provide the product, service, or experience you initially wanted or were expecting. 

This may come in the form of an exchange or replacement item. Or, in the case of a bad experience, a voucher or discount on products and services in the future. 

Whether you had a bad dining experience and have been offered a voucher for another meal or a retailer has given you a credit note for the next time you shop with them, you will have to be willing to accept the inconvenience or trouble you’ve already had and not let this cloud your future experience. As with an apology, you must be able to forgive and be open to the future.

As a complainer, it is important to be understanding that errors or bad experiences can happen. This kind of resolution provides a chance to rebuild trust or confidence in a company. However, your ability to give a company a second chance may be impacted if this is not the first time this has happened. If this is your third time complaining about the same issue, it may be that you have had enough and, understandably, are unable to accept this resolution. 


Some things cannot be fully made up, or replaced and you may not be willing to offer the company a second chance. For something like delayed flights, or if you had a bad experience due to false advertising or negligence, the company may be obliged to pay you compensation. 

Compensation is often calculated to take into account lost time, inconvenience, and harmful emotional effects, like stress. However, it is important to remember that this still may not cover the full amount you originally spent, nor can it give you back the time, money, or emotional effort expended. 

When they offer compensation, a company is fully admitting that you were negatively affected and that it was through no fault of your own. So even if the compensation amount does not feel like it can make up for what you went through, it’s important to focus on the kind of validation it provides. Like an apology, it is an acknowledgment that something went seriously wrong and that you were harmed in the process. 

Laws and regulations exist to ensure that consumers are financially renumerated when they are affected by bad practices. However, these are often made and enforced by regulatory bodies and ombudsmen, not by companies themselves. The amount of compensation you can expect to receive will often be calculated based on these regulations – so ensure that you have a look at this when you are making your complaint, so you know what to expect. (For example, our  rights guide on flight delays or cancellations helps you calculate how much you may be able to claim for). 

Unfortunately, there are lots of Claims Management Companies (CMCs) that exist to make money from people attempting to reclaim the compensation they are legally entitled to. Our free complaint service and rights guides are there to help you avoid using such companies. However, when doing research on your right to compensation, be vigilant of accidentally agreeing to terms and conditions where you have to pay a company a large portion of your compensation.  

The key to avoiding disappointment 

With all of these resolutions it is up to you, the consumer, to manage your expectations. To resist unreasonable expectations that result in feelings of disappointment, resentment, or frustration you should avoid magical thinking: just because you expect or want something to happen, this will not make it so. 

While a company may often promise that you the consumer are their top priority, they are, in the end, a company. Your bad experience is important to you, but the company’s goal is to make a profit and protect its interests and broader customer base. They will not go to the ends of the earth for one person or pay large sums of compensation if they don’t have to. 

Remember that a complaint is always a negotiation. This is good, in that it means you can advocate for yourself and have a role in shaping the result. But it also means that you are not the only one in control – the company also has a role in deciding what would be a reasonable response. 

Knowing your rights will help you ensure that you enter negotiations informed and in good faith. This will, in turn, make the company more likely to help you find a resolution, and not just try to get rid of you. 

It is also important to remember that for any complaint, big or small, it is unlikely that a resolution will completely make up for the bad experience.

Time cannot be reversed and bad experiences can’t be undone. Even if you can return an item that is too small, you may not be able to wear it to the party next week. You may be given financial compensation, but the knock-on effect of an eight-hour flight delay cannot be erased. You may get another chance to stay at the hotel, but you still had to live through the sleepless night of construction work outside the window. 

This is why, whatever the resolution, it is essential that you emotionally prepare yourself to accept it and want to move forward. Fulfilled expectations are not the key to happiness, but having reasonable expectations will help you avoid feeling disappointed or resentful at the end of the complaint. 


If you have any questions or comments don’t hesitate to get in touch with us via

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