I volunteer at a charity to help laypeople with difficulties with the government.


Whenever front-line staff are rude or unhelpful, we directly email or telephone Managers, to convince them to intervene in the complaint. But some Managers simply devolve complaints back to the original staff who failed to help. I already tried to write:

Dear Manager:

I prefer to interact with only you or someone more senior, but not with junior employees as they have not solved our difficulty. Thank you.

But these managers reply:

As I already explained to you, as a Manager, I have other duties and cannot help directly with your emails. I must devolve your complaint to my junior staff: please liaise with them.


How can I sway these Managers not to devolve? Enough time has been wasted trying to communicate with junior staff.

  • 1
    Are you a customer of the company? Or the company is a customer of yours? The answer makes a big difference for the answer to your question. If you are a customer, you have the right to ask for the person who can resolve the problem. If the company is a customer of yours, you have no right to interfere with their business decision. – scaaahu Mar 13 '17 at 3:34
  • VTC as "unclear what you're asking". – scaaahu Mar 13 '17 at 4:00
  • @scaaahu I detailed my post. Better now? Please ask for more. – NNOX Apps May 15 '18 at 4:33

One option is to take a page from how questions and answers work on Stack Exchange sites, by describing your problem rather than your desired solution. For example, you might write:

Dear L3:

I've already corresponded with L2, as well as with L1, but neither of them could resolve the problem. Is anyone else available to help?

L3 can then determine whether making time for you, or asking someone else more senior to take a look, is the best way to solve this.

(If there's something subjective about this — for example, if L2 is likely to think that (s)he was just fine, but you were not satisfied — then it also makes sense to add a sentence or two explaining why you haven't been satisfied with the resolution so far. That may itself be a solvable problem, and will help L3 to decide how best to help further.)

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    Explaining "why" rather than "what" isn't (just) a Stack Exchange thing - it's a basic "here's how to make a good request for help" thing. – Philip Kendall Mar 13 '17 at 0:27
  • 1
    @PhilipKendall: Well, in some cases the reason for a request is not really relevant, either because the request is innocuous enough that the recipient will happily comply no matter what your reason is, or because the reason is obvious, or because the reason is complicated enough that the explanation gets in the way of making the actual request. So you have to make a judgment call. The reason I suggest this approach for the OP is that "You said you're too busy to help me, but I want you to help me anyway" definitely does require a reason! – ruakh Mar 13 '17 at 0:39

Ordinarily it is best to interact with whoever can help you achieve your goal. If L3 says L2 can help you, talk to L2.

In this case you say L2 was unable to help you. Therefore your response to L3 can be:

I have already talked to L2 and they were unable to help me.

This is neither impolite nor demeaning to L2.

  • Good answer, it's one way to handle it politely. There does seem to be an underlying personal issue with L2 since the OP doesn't want L3 talking to them etc,. a bit messy, but in terms of the question this is correct. – Kilisi Mar 13 '17 at 0:34

It makes little difference who you interact with. The only concern should be that it is the person who can resolve the problem or give pertinent information on it.

But in terms of your question, you just keep emailing L3 and they can forward it to whoever they want. You don't tell them you don't want to interact with L2, you just ignore that bit. In much the same way as L4 ignored you.

If that doesn't work take it to your manager to deal with. i.e, escalate in your own company.


> L1 and L2 lack the authority, and so failed, to help.

> please contact L2 who can help.

What you are saying is inconsistent. In a private E-Mail (because anything received by multiple people would be less polite), point out this inconsistency.

Definitely don't blame. Don't even assume what went wrong. Maybe what went wrong is something that you did. (Maybe you phrased things incorrectly.) Just identify the roadblock.

Business leaders (such as supervisors) tend to be very good at preventing undesirable roadblocks from continuing to cause problems. If you're doing something wrong, they will let you know. If someone else is doing something wrong, you may get instructions (like "try again" or, if you're luckier, maybe even a little more detail like "Thanks. I'll take care of it. Try again tomorrow if you don't get an update before then."

Regardless of whether the problem is L2's fault (not doing something that could be done), your fault (not phrasing things right), a fault in the system (bad policies), the manager's fault (incorrect advice), really doesn't matter much. You don't want to get into the blame game, because identifying blame is usually unpleasant, so the less you're involved = the better (for you).

Don't state "you will interact with only someone senior", because that sounds uncooperative/demanding. (The title of your question sounds really bad; however, the actual text of your question does identify a much more common problematic scenario that even dedicated good staff may encounter.)

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