Harry Turner's Episodes of Personal History
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Customer Relations: A correspondence

Or how NOT to keep the customers happy!

5 January: Letter to John Richards, Membership Manager, The Book Club.

Dear Mr Richards: You have dampened my enthusiasm for the New Year with your shock tidings on the December statement that books on order are being withheld until I pay an outstanding balance of 68.86... This demand is all very sudden, but I shall grit my teeth, stifle the urge to threaten resignation, and attempt to explain that this sorry state of affairs is not so much the result of a "simple matter of oversight" on my part, as you so gratuitously put it, but rather a consequence of shortcomings in your system.

You may recollect that the "Toys & Games" booklet included with a pre-Christmas mailing offered alternative forms of payment. I chose to pay a deposit by credit card, and have the balance charged to my book club account in three equal monthly payments. So much for expectations.

Your initial response to my order was to bombard me with a multiplicity of form letters advising that individual items ordered were not available, but that you were working on it. After an interval, more form letters arrived, one a definite thumbs-down, others still optimistic. My state of suspense was relieved as items began to turn up during December – with no indication of charges included in the parcels.

It would seem from your statement that instead of the expected charge of a £10 deposit being made to my credit card, you passed a charge of £7.98 to my club account for one item. Later, you charged three other gift items direct to my club account. Which goes a long way to explaining why my standing with your accountant is at so low an ebb.

I would ask you to check why arrangements went awry, and straighten out the statement charges. You might inform your marketing department that after this fiasco, there is little chance I shall succumb to their blandishments next Christmas.

Yours disenchantedly, H. Turner

22 January: Note to Accounts Department, The Book Club.

I enclose cheque for £30.90 covering books supplied. With reference to the balance of your statement, please refer to my letter of 5 January.

H. Turner

29 January:

Dear Mr Turner: We regret that we cannot trace receipt of your letter. Please send a copy so the matter may be dealt with.

S. Newman, Customer Relations Department.

6 February:

Dear S. Newman: I attach copy of my January 5 letter as requested. I suggest that you charge the outstanding balance of £37.96 to my credit card account to clear the matter.

H. Turner

Letter dated 30 January: received February 7

Dear Mr Turner: Thank you for your recent communication. We have noted your comments and regrettably due to an administrative error your account was debited in full for the order from the "Toys & Games" catalogue, instead of three monthly instalments.

We are most concerned that because of this two orders were held. However, we are now arranging to send the books under separate cover, and we trust you will accept them with our compliments.

Although your account shows the complete balance you can pay over three months and please disregard any billing invoices you may receive. Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience you have been caused.

Yours sincerely, K. Rogers (Mrs), Customer Relations Department.

15 February:

Dear Mr Turner: Thank you for your recent communication. We trust you have now received our letter in reply to yours of January 5 and that this has now resolved the matter for you.

Yours sincerely, J.V. Smith, Customer Relations Department.

17 March: Message on February statement of account...

Dear Mr Turner: We have been looking at our membership record and it seems for some reason you have not yet paid the outstanding balance of £37.96. We are sure this is a simple matter of oversight on your part: But if there is a problem or misunderstanding of any kind that is holding up payment, please let us know what the trouble is. Otherwise we look forward to receiving your payment with no further delay.

Yours sincerely, John Richards, Membership Manager.

17 March: Note to John Richards, Membership Manager.

I would refer you to my letter of February 6, addressed to S. Newman of your Customer Relations Department, authorising payment by credit card.

H. Turner

April 30: Message on March statement of account...

Dear Mr Turner: We wrote to you a few weeks ago to remind you that we were awaiting payment from you of your outstanding balance of £37.96.

We still don't appear to have heard from you either with your payment or with a letter giving your reasons for not paying. You will appreciate that to keep a club like this running smoothly and economically for all our members, it is very important that everyone settles their account promptly. We hope we can count on your full cooperation, and we look forward to receiving your payment right away.

Yours sincerely, John Richards, Membership Manager.

May 1: Note to John Richards, Membership Manager.

What happened to my credit card payment instructions? I give up. Cheque enclosed.

H. Turner

Letter dated 30 April: received May 16.

Dear Mr Turner: Our Membership Manager has passed details of your club record to me and asked me to write personally about the £37.96 currently owing on your account. You have always paid promptly in the past. And, frankly, I am surprised that - in spite of having written to you twice - we have received no payment nor even a reply from you. I can only think it has been an oversight on your part.

However, as Credit Controller, I must point out the seriousness of this matter, and ask you to settle your account without any further delay. I am reluctant to have to take firm action in this matter and would prefer to rely on your own good sense.

May I ask you to put your cheque or a postal order in the enclosed special return envelope and get it off to us today or, if you still feel you have a genuine reason for not paying, please write and tell us about it. Either way, do get in touch with us without any further delay.

Yours sincerely, D.Blackwood, Credit Controller.

16 May: Letter to D. Blackwood, Credit Controller, The Book Club.

Dear Mr Blackwood: I have received your letter dated 30 April with the current mailing: by now, I trust, the cheque for £37.96 will have been received and worked its way through that ponderous system of yours, and settled the matter.

What annoys me is the fact that I have tried to clear the account on two previous occasions. What do your staff do with all these bits of paper that reach than? I returned a letter from S.Newman on Feb 6 and asked for the account to be cleared through my credit card account, but nothing appears to have been done. I referred to the matter again when I returned the order form on March 17; this was either unnoticed or ignored.

This matter has been dragging on since the New Year. The only sensible response that has emerged from your monolithic organisation has been from Mrs Rogers of your Customer Relations Dept. Otherwise you would have had my resignation from membership, in the face of organisational bumbling, long ago.

Having forced me to write unnecessarily, I hope you will have the courtesy to write and assure me that this ridiculous mix-up is at last sorted out, and that we can carry on without the word-processed threats and blandishments. Otherwise, I go where I don't have to put up with all this unwanted hassle.

Yours, H. Turner

22 May:

Dear Mr Turner: Thank you for your recent communication. Your account has new been credited with your recent payment of 37.96.

Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience you have been caused.

Yours sincerely, P. Norton, Customer. Relations Department. ■

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