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Thread: Writing to the company

  1. #1
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Writing to the company

    One day a decidedly non-literate friend in the service was sitting down at a desk with pen in hand writing a letter. I asked him what he was doing and he said he was writing to (this was in the days of snail mail) the maker of his favorite chewing tobacco ('Red Man' - I just googled it and see that it's made by the Pinkerton Tobacco Co.) telling them about how much he enjoyed their product and wished they carried it more often at the Post Exchange. He asked me to look over his letter and make any corrections I might see fit to make but I didn't have the heart to make any changes at all (or as he might have written 'don't have no hart to be mak of no chagens') Anywho, fast forward several weeks - he walks into the barracks with a freakin' ENTIRE CASE of Red Man! The company shipped him the complimentary product samples and enclosed a hand written letter thanking him for using their product and taking the time to write! My guess was that the company saw a sales opportunity and figured he'd share his bounty with all the other guys that worked with him in the motor pool and maybe they'd start buying Red Man - sure enough he doled it out to all his friends. So this got me motivated to try my hand at writing several letters. I probably wrote maybe a dozen letters to various companies, but no one saw fit to shower me with any free product samples. If they sent back anything at all it was usually a soulless form letter and a paltry few 'save 30 cents on your next purchase...'' coupons.

    Have you ever written a letter to a company either praising or blasting them for their product? Have you known of anyone else writing a letter and receiving a windfall like the one descibed above?

    EDIT: I take it back now that I think about it Anheuser Busch sent me some cool Really Big Stickers featuring their brand logos (Michelob, Busch, Budweiser). A case of beer, however, would have been even more welcome.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  2. #2
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    A friend in college was the king of getting free stuff by complaining. He didn't always send letters / emails / etc. he also called or talked to a manager if we went to dinner. He was very good at explaining how he was spending his money or support your product, and you disappointed him.

    I cannot count the times that he got $50 off, or some great deal on a product. It does work to be a complainer. I just ended up not going places with him because it became a bit too much. At some level it isn't worth the hassle to be "right".
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  3. #3
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    I sent a pair of Brooks running shoes back to the company with a complaint letter because they broke down much more quickly than I expected. I explained that I was a regular purchaser of their shoes and that I had never had a pair fail before. I thoughtfully included my shoe size and received an apology letter AND a new pair of the same model.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  4. #4
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    One day while working with Maister, I selected a sugar frosted baked good out of the vending machine, and much to my surprise, there was some fuzzy stuff growing on the underside of the package… right next to the “Quality Assurance” label that suggested you contact the company if the product is anything but fresh and delicious. So I did as instructed noting how much I enjoyed their brand of sugar frosted baked goods. A few weeks later 2 dozen arrived on my door step with a thank you for contacting the company letter.

    I have found that if you contact a company that has a small, inexpensive product, they often will be willing to send you a free sample, especially if it results in you becoming a return customer. For example, every year college students are loaded up with goodies that include razors, shaving cream, cologne, mints, coupons for free appetizers or entrée’s at local restaurants, and even day passes for gyms with the realization that if they can get you to enjoy the first experience, you will be back.

    I don’t know if I have ever paid for a razor handle… every once in a while (few years, I will contact one company or another (often right after a new product comes out) asking for a sample of the product and information as I am thinking about switching. Nine times out of ten, I will get a new razor, travel size shaving cream, or some other sample.
    Invest in the things today, that provide the returns tomorrow.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    I've been known to do my share of legitimate complaining.

    Ofos, I had the same experience with Asics. I had a new pair of running shoes, wore them out in a rain storm, dried them out properly but could never get rid of the horrible smell (and it wasn't from my feet because I'd only worn the shoes a few times). I contacted customer service and explained how this was my umpteenth pair of Asics (which it was) and how I'd never had the problem before and was disappointed. I wasn't expecting anything other than the opportunity to express my concerns and maybe a coupon, but they ended up sending me a brand new pair of shoes. As a result I was a happy camper and happily share my experience with others.


    Another time I heard about this uh, "friend", who discovered a slug in their Craft with a K mac & cheese. After hunting for days trying to find a working phone number or the proper e-mail they finally were able to speak with customer service. Customer service offered this "friend" two coupons for free Craft with a K mac & cheese. Bleck! No thank you!

  6. #6
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    This wasn't to a company, but when I was little (late 1980s, early 1990s) I used to write letters to many of the first round draft picks in the NHL each year. I never expected anything in return (I think my mom got me started on the habit to help me write) but received autographed photos and hockey cards from probably 80% of them and handwritten letters from a handful as well. I even received four tickets to a Red Wings game from Keith Primeau (they were pretty awful seats but it was still cool).

    After some friends and had two or three truly awful experiences at an Applebee's in Jacksonville, NC I decided to write to complain - detailing the time and dates of our visits and the problems we encountered. They somehow went back in their records and correctly figured out which receipts were ours from those dates and actually mailed me a check reimbursing us for those visits which was totally unexpected. They also mailed us probably $150 worth of coupons for free meals. About a month or two later, their regional or district manager called me to ask if we had found the service to be any better on our return trips. I had to tell him that I didn't know because we all refused to go back there and we had thrown out the coupons. You know the service at a restaurant must be downright awful when a bunch of Marines refuse to go back there even with a promise of free food. That was about seven years ago, and I can proudly say I haven't been back to any Applebee's since.

    More recently (about 2 months ago), I discovered two years worth of unauthorized charges from Sirius Satellite Radio on my credit card. I called them to complain that a) I had never authorized them to renew my service and b) I didn't even have the service in my vehicle! After spending nearly an hour on the phone with their customer service and getting nowhere (most of the time was on hold and each time I asked to be transferred to somebody with some decision making authority, I was disconnected), I decided to write an angry letter the 21st century way - with a post to their Facebook page. Within 20 minutes of making a post on Facebook, I received a phone call from a "Social Media Customer Service Specialist" who told me that they would be reversing the two years worth of charges and giving me a free year of their service... A week later I called her back to have the service shut of again. We shall see if it takes this time.

    Quote Originally posted by dandy_warhol View post
    Another time I heard about this uh, "friend", who discovered a slug in their Craft with a K mac & cheese. After hunting for days trying to find a working phone number or the proper e-mail they finally were able to speak with customer service. Customer service offered this "friend" two coupons for free Craft with a K mac & cheese. Bleck! No thank you!
    This reminds me a sketch from Kids in the Hall:

    Last edited by Gedunker; 23 Jul 2012 at 3:41 PM. Reason: seq. posts
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  7. #7
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by WSU MUP Student View post
    This reminds me a sketch from Kids in the Hall:
    And it reminded me of a certain Monty Python sketch
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    This brings back an ancient memory from college, when one of my roommates opened a brand-new box of white rice (River Rice, I believe) and found, um, some grains of rice moving. Not only did she write a letter of complaint to the company, she even included a few samples in the envelope. I suspect the company took one look at my roommate's return address and decided she was a college student playing a prank, because they didn't even respond.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    I bought a pair of adidas Copas and used them almost one season before the heel started separting from the shoe on both the left and right. I sent them back to adidas (since the store I bought them from wouldn't do a thing about it) with a letter stating that I had worn adidas soccer shoes for a while and they always seemed to last for a couple seasons or more. About 3 weeks later, I found a box on the doorstep with a brand new pair of Copas, plus a t-shirt and stickers. Very Cool...
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
    "Budweiser sells a product they reflectively insist on calling beer." John Oliver

  10. #10
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    A few years ago I was contacted by SBC Yahoo that they had finally set up DSL to our neighborhood and that we could get on board for a year contract for twenty dollars a month for high speed DSL. I signed up, but they came out to hook it up and said that actually it hadn't been extended far enough to serve our house so we would be able to get dial up speeds. They continued to charge us for the high speed dsl that we had signed up for. I sent them a letter and they ignored it. I called them and they said they couldn't do anything about it. I sent them another letter and they finally responded saying that I had signed up and there was nothing they could do for me, they would not be letting me out of the contract and that they would in fact send me to collections if I didn't continue to pay for the whole year contract for the DSL service that I was not recieving. After looking into my option it became clear the most cost effective solution was to continue to pay through the year contract.
    Children in the back seat can cause accidents - and vice versa.

  11. #11
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    I seriously think I could be a consultant when it comes to complaining. I don't do it often, but I'm highly skilled at getting results. I'm particularly good at the classic complaint letter, which I have written a few times for myself but more often for friends/family trying to get something taken care of. Perhaps my greatest success was getting my car declared a lemon with only a single letter--it probably had something to do with me including the complete maintenance history in an itemized manner within the letter, quoting lemon laws, and including about 200 pages of support materials. I got a phone call a weak later to discuss the details of how the manufacturers lemon settlements worked, and about a week after that I got the settlement contract and nondisclosure.

    I've successfully gone after restaurants, cruise lines and various product manufacturers. And like WSU MUP Student mentioned, going after a company's facebook page is perhaps the most effective these days, because your complaint is out there for the whole world to see and they have dedicated staff whose sole purpose is to make you go away.

    I don't just complain though--I've sent positive correspondence when I've had a particularly good experience. I've even done it at a fast food restaurant when the person taking my order was particularly cheerful & my food was better than normal. If a manager is around, I'll tell them if I'm having a good experience. I figure they get shit on all day, so I try to be the positive guy when I can.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    I send positive feedback to companies when I like their products. I've received cents-off coupons and free product coupons. I usually find a manager to compliment good service, but I don't want anything in return.

    For a while, it seemed as though any time we went to TGIFridays, our wait for food was longer than their standard, and the meals were comped. Without my having to complain. We figured out that the meal that my daughter always ordered is what took so long, but I didn't have the heart to keep ordering it for the free meal.

    If I email a complaint about a business, I always check the "do not respond" box. I just want the problem addressed. I discovered that if I put in a complaint that I left a restaurant hungry, I get a free meal.

    Most recently, I contacted a local chocolate company because the cashiers were one-upping each other about who knew someone who was addicted to drugs, in rehab, on probation or in jail. I told them that talk like that made their candy seem to be dirty. I hit the jack pot on that one, and still havent used all of the free coupons they sent me.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    I sent a few snail-mail letters back in the Dark Ages... pro and con, can't remember ever hearing back. Like "Hey, University of Florida, you asshats sold me and my friend tix to the Eagles concert and when we got there, there was NO MORE seating, so we got kicked out!!!" I got better after that.

    In the last few years...
    Took me forever to find an email contact on La Quinta when they "lost" the reservations of friends who'd flown up for our wedding. Never got a response. That one really pissed me off. Don't stay at La Quinta.

    Others ranged from our supermarket, Publix, with a nice response when I've praised one of their employees, letting me know they would share my email at a team meeting, and the person I'd praised would get a free deli lunch. To, sent a complimentary email to a Honda dealer for fixing my car posthaste while I was travelling, and their response (in a phone call) was "What do you want?" Gee, nothing, just telling you your service dept is super. Obviously your PR dept isn't...

    The only $$ I've gotten is from quietly telling the manager of a restaurant my mom, son, and I frequented, that I was unhappy the staff abandoned us (the regulars) to pander to a busload of old people on a tour bus; he gave me $60 in gift cards which wasn't the point, but yeah, I took them.

  14. #14
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by imaplanner View post
    After looking into my option it became clear the most cost effective solution was to continue to pay through the year contract.
    That is a BBB issue. You could easily have opened a case, and had it handled. You shouldn't be paying for service you aren't receiving. The fact that they are too stupid to deal with a problem they created shouldn't cost you money. Don't accept crappy customer service.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  15. #15
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by imaplanner View post
    After looking into my option it became clear the most cost effective solution was to continue to pay through the year contract.
    We ran into a similar situation with AT&T where we received their U-verse box and pursuant to their 'if you're not completely satisfied' instructions promptly returned it in the manner they instructed. AT&T refused to acknowlege we returned the unit (never mind we had a shipping # and receipt) and billed us for the service. We did not pay. Every once in a while we get a collection agency calling and Mrs. Maister (in her oh so lawyerly fashion) usually says something like "I do not owe AT&T this money. Can I talk to your legal department...what do you mean 'no I can't'? I WANT you to sue me. Please sue me so I can put this matter on the record and end this nonsense." That usually is worth a jaw drop and hang up from the collections people.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  16. #16
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    Here's one I had forgotten about since it wasn't a problem with a company but with a university: When I first got out of the Marine Corps, I got out at the end of April just in time to begin summer course at my college. I immediately filed my paperwork for my GI Bill funds and the university kept dragging their feet on submitting it to the government. They claimed to have lost the paperwork the first time I turned it in and then the second time, the only person who could certify it was on vacation and wouldn't be back for 2 months! I called to the Dean of Students and a few other folks on campus to no avail and then I remembered how quickly a Marine Corps unit would stop everything to investigate and fix a problem if a member of congress became involved so I called the office of Dave Bonior who was my representative at the time. The very next morning I had a form letter delivered from his office that I filled out and faxed in. The day after that I received a call from the university saying that my original paperwork had been found and certified and I should have my first GI Bill funds deposited within a week and in the meantime, the school was releasing $500 on to my student account to cover books and expenses.

    About 10 minutes after that, Dave Bonior's office called me to see if any progress had been made. Had he not retired that year (and if I still lived in that district), Dave Bonior would have won me over as a supporter for life.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Come to think of it, I have been meaning to send a message to the folks at Yakima. I'll keep you posted.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  18. #18
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
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    If anyone has seen the movie Fandango... Well, it has an outstanding soundtrack, but it was never put out as an album or tape. (Yes, CD's were just getting a foothold in the market.) I decided that I was going to put together my own compilation. I had several of the albums already, and got a couple more, but I could not find the Pat Metheny recording of Farmer's Trust because it was out of print. I called the public library, who had a copy, but they did not loan it out, nor could I tape it there without a letter of consent from ECM Records, who had the copyright.

    So, I sent them a letter asking for permission, and why I wanted to record that song off the album. I waited several weeks, then got an odd package in the mail. I opened it to find a brand new double CD of Travels, that had yet to be released, and had the song I needed. It was my first CD, and I still have it, along with a scrap of paper that was included that simply said, "Surprise, Surprise!"
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