Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Got a Box Full of Letters Think You Might Like To Read

Before I began this blog, I had another hobby or two. One of them was "letter writer." Or, more descriptively, "profusely bitchy letter writer." I tended to direct my letters to businesses that I felt had either wronged me in some way or had some general room for improvement, often in the area of customer service.

I would blame it on crankiness and old-er age, but I can't. The fact is, I wrote my first letter in college, when I tried some new cereal that tasted like Ass Flakes. I wrote the company that invented the cereal to let them know that my breakfast was less than satisfactory, figuring, hey, maybe they'd just like some feedback. A few weeks later, I received a letter from the company thanking me for my comments and a free coupon for any of their other products.

As a college student, it was just as good as sending me a winning lottery ticket.

My next notable letter came a few years later, when I wrote to the salon that had accidentally dyed my hair orange, and then in an attempt to fix it, made it blonde. I wanted them to know they were awful and horrible and mean and I wanted my money back. The manager, who truly was an a-hole from the get-go, called me a few days later and I'm not proud to say this, but it devolved into an epic screaming match which ended with me yelling the words, "Oh, why don't you just fuck off?!" and slamming the phone down.

One really should be nice and logical when composing letters like this and dealing with companies, but I think this interaction is more illustrative of the fact that some people just aren't fit to deal with other people, and they apparently aren't aware of it. I know I'm not fit for it, which is why you don't see me running a salon.

My biggest score to come out of the letter writing came when I was living in Florida and preparing to move up north. I splurged on a cherry wood sleigh bed for my new apartment. The saleslady told me the bed would hold a full or a queen mattress. Being poor after buying the bed, I opted for a full mattress and found one at another store. Since I was to be moving soon, I didn't bother to assemble the bed.

A few weeks later, the Mr. and I drove to my new home and began to unload the moving van. After everything was in the apartment, we put the bed together. It was all going well until we put the mattress on and, boom, it fell clear to the floor. The bed holds one size and one size only, and it isn't a full. We drove to a mattress store, purchased a queen for $500, loaded it "Flintstones"-style onto my tiny little Geo Metro and collapsed when we got home.

The next day, I woke up still feeling peeved about the whole thing. Because of the woman's bad information, I was stuck with a mattress that was useless to me, and I couldn't do anything with it since it had been bought in another state.

I contacted the company and told them what happened, but they were unimpressed. That's when I broke out the big guns: the Better Business Bureau. I sent them a letter, complete with receipts, and let them go to town. A few weeks later, the response came: the company was going to reimburse us for the cost of the new, queen mattress. Did someone leave a horse's head in someone else's bed or something? We'll never know the answer.

And now, my most shameful moment as a letter writer:

Three years ago, the Mr. and I were on this kick where every Wednesday night, we'd go to , um, Airy-Day Ueen-Qay and get a Lizzard-Bay. We did this in the dead of summer, and we trudged through a snow-covered parking lot more than once in the winter.

One night, we pulled up to our usual Airy-Day Ueen-Qay around 9:45 and saw that it was closed. Since we pretty much lived there, we knew that 10 p.m. was the closing time, and not a second earlier, dammit. I must have been PMSing this night or something, because I smacked the wheel of my car.
"What?! Why is it closed?"
We could see some guy sweeping up inside.
"I don't know," said the Mr. "Maybe it's just some emergency and they had to close up early. It's not a big deal. Let's just go home."
"Oh, ho, ho. It is a big deal. I didn't finish my dinner so I'd have room! I want my damn Lizzard-Bay!"

There was no time to go to the other shop in town, so we had no choice but to give it up for that week. I was so mad, though, that the minute I got home, I e-mailed the company a letter. The next morning, I had calmed down some and forgot all about it.

A few weeks later, I received a letter in the mail from the owner.

"Thank you for telling us of your experience at [location of the store]. We conducted an investigation into the matter, and we learned that the manager had closed the store early, going against our wishes. We fired him, and are happy to have done so."

Gulp.

Fired?

I got a guy fired?

"Please accept these coupons for two free Lizzard-Bays as a token of our appreciation."

Lizzard-Bays tainted with the blood of the manager.

I took the coupons out, but folded up the letter and stashed it away. I couldn't let the Mr. see what I had done. When he came home, I showed him the coupons. "Hey, look! I got coupons for complaining about them closing the store early! Cool, right?"
"Oh, yeah! Great!"

But the next day, I took out the letter and showed him. He laughed his ass off. "You got a guy fired?! Hahahaha, hoo-boy. Wow, I hope you're happy!"

Well, I cheered up some a week or two later when we got the Lizzard-Bays.