Thursday, April 20, 2006


Lizzie works in retail. She is an area manager for a chain of homeware stores. Occasionally she gets complaints from customers and she placates these people in an amiable and efficient way because she isn't me.

Over a drink in the pub (we have to go to the pub to talk because at home we just end up working or watching tele, I know we're rubbish) she tells me about a complaint she received today.

'Last June I purchased a set of tupperare containers for £14.99. Imagine my surprise when I walked into your store this March and discovered that the containers were now £11.99 in the sale.'

Please can I reply Liz; please. Oh please.

Dear Madam,

Our Support Centre staff are a dull lot at the best of times and frankly, when it comes to imagining things, they just don't cut the mustard. We have sent them off on courses to improve their creativity but they are still unable to find words to express the level of surprise you must be feeling at the discovery that an item in our sale was being sold for less than the price it was being sold at before the sale.

Perhaps you could help us. Might you give your surprise a score out of 10, where 1 = the discovery that your boiled potatoes had insufficient salt at lunchtime and 10 = an elephant walking into the living room and sticking its trunk up your arse. Armed with this information we will be able to brief our staff to find the right facial expression from their considerable repertoires when refusing you a refund.

If you pop into our Gerrards Cross store you may well find a supply of heavily discounted brains, some of which have been used for training purposes and are undamaged. We will happily offer you a replacement.

Yours sincerely,

Someone brighter than you.

Sadly she won't let me write it. Ah well. Back to pastoral work.


Martin said...

That is a shame. It is a good imformative letter to help your staff train, and help the customer improve their life.

Still, at least they're not trying to return underwear that may or may not have been used and washed. 9 times out of 10, it was full refund and straight into the bin. (Yes, I once worked in retail as a lowly sales assistant, sorry "Customer Advisor" - yes that was our official title)

Stewart said...

Dear Madam

Thank you for your recent letter, expressing your concern about the variable prices of our Tupperware containers. I was very concerned to hear about your experience, and on behalf of all our staff I would like to apologise for any alarm, panic, consternation, or sensations of slight annoyance that you have experienced.

I appreciate that it can be a mildly frustrating experience whilst browsing sale items to find goods available at a lower price than you paid some months earlier. I have made the point to my superiors on several occasions that the reducing of prices during sale periods actually discriminates against our loyal customers – who are likely to have already purchased the items in question – and argued that we should instead consider charging more during sale periods. Unfortunately though, were we to adopt such a policy we would not legally be able to refer to the adjusted prices as constituting a ‘Sale’ – from what our legal department tell me, I gather this has something to do with the Trade Descriptions Act - just another example of unnecessary government interference in the day-to-day lives of decent people like you and me.

Consequently if you feel strongly about this issue I can only suggest that you write a strongly worded letter of complaint to your Member of Parliament – I gather that people write to them about far more trivial issues than this every day of the week, so I am certain they will treat your enquiry with the detailed attention it so clearly warrants.

I hope that at some point in the not-too-distant future it will be possible for you to enter one of our stores, see goods for sale at a higher price than you initially paid, and leave with the sense of smug superiority that you so obviously crave.

Thank you very much for taking the time to write to us on this important issue. If you have any similar concerns please do feel free to write again - I am certain that my colleagues and I would find your views entertaining and enlightening.

Yours faithfully,

St said...

Genius. I will ask Mrs T to forward all complaints to you at the earliest. Thanks for the laugh.

Caroline said...

Dear Steve,

as an academic I often give some feedback on essays, so maybe I could help you here?

I thought that your effort was going along fine with pithy comments and a valid point or two. I think that the problems started when elephants and arses came into the argument. You really ought to reference your authorities (Piztof, 1987 springs to mind).

Your comments about brains in the shop missed out on an important point: the potential for part exchange, since this customer would surely be able to get an excellent trade price for the rarely used model of their own.

fotofill said...

Dear Madam,

Oh my goodness what did the police say?


P Evans