SEETHING IN SILENCE IN AMERICA

SEETHING IN SILENCE IN AMERICA

Despite America's reputation as a country of whiners, most of us say we rarely complain.

But that's mostly because we either don't know how to complain or doubt it will do any good - not because we don't find things to complain about.Indeed, there are lots of things that bug Americans. According to the U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs, one out of every four consumer-commercial transactions has some kind of glitch.

While doing my own research, however, I found that when it comes to person-to-person aggravations, most of us would rather suffer in silence. I found that if someone cuts us off while driving or starts weaving in and out, 54 percent of men and women would do absolutely nothing.

In a restaurant, even if smoke gets in our eyes, four out of five of us wouldn't ask another patron to stop smoking. If we are seated next to the bathroom or swinging kitchen doors, more than half of us would simply accept it.

But we still find plenty we could complain about. At work, it's not just credit-grabbing bosses, mountains in our in-boxes or lazy co-workers piling on the aggravations. It's the lack of space, the temperature, even the stale candy in the vending machine.

Marketers are doing things to drive us up the wall, like unleashing robotic telemarketing calls. Yet even if the calls interrupt our dinner, three out of four of us will politely listen to the pitch. Only one of every four of us says no - or something harsher.

Other irksome intrusions that could well prompt a complaint (if we were into complaining) include childproof caps and poor instructions on assembling products.

And while 7 percent of consumers grumble about ink from their newspapers coming off on their hands, few phone the publishing house to air their vexation.

Americans view their home as something of a bunker, a sanctuary from the fast-paced, stress-filled outside world, a refuge from aggravations. Yet even in the home, aggravations can pile up.

Honeywell, the control technology company based in Minneapolis, Minn., found Americans are beset by home-based pet peeves involving temperature, air quality and security.

Topping the list of aggravations was that old hot-and-cold dilemma: inconsistent temperature. Allergies came next, like those caused by dust and pet hair.

The third-worst home aggravation was high utility bills, followed by dry air in the house and window condensation. Rounding out the top 10 gripes were bad odors, outdated kitchens, stuffy rooms, inefficient floor plans and damp basements.

Homeowners like the idea of having control over their home environments, says Deb Massof, vice president of Honeywell Home Vision, which provides automated systems for homes.

While only 8 percent of 1,000 homeowners surveyed by Honeywell said they have a central system to control multiple home devices at once, more than half reported such a system would be useful. Seventy percent liked the idea of a system that would notify them, remotely, if something was wrong at home.