For anyone that has heard me speak about my 'start' in writing, you've heard of my love affair with strongly worded letters--basically, letters I write when I've been wronged. I love them, really love them, and for a few years into my writing career I had made more money off of them than I had my novels. Here's a brief recap.
*My first SWL (which could be turned into Swell, which totally works for me) was about 12 years ago after we did sweat equity (translate into blood, sweat, and tears equity) on our first house. We spent a few hundred dollars, an embarrassing amount of time, and still managed to mess it up. We did all this because we'd been promised a couple thousand dollars off our closing costs. Well, the builder fired the employee that made that promise and refused to give us the money. I was spitting mad, well, maybe writing mad. I composed a four page letter that explained, in four page detail, how they'd ripped us off, had no integrity, and were basically going to hell. My hubby thought it was a waste of time, and I agreed--but it made me feel better so I sent it. A few weeks letter I had a note of apology and over $2,000. This was likely a turning point for my writing career as I realized that words could be valuable.
*About 6 years ago my husband and I bought a timeshare. We got it because of several promises made in regard to how easy it was to use, how easy it was to let other people use it, and what an asset it would be to my husband's business through the reward options of extra weekends. All of these proved false. Our attempts to talk to our sales guy went unaddressed until I blew up and wrote another letter threatening all kinds consumer agencies that would love to hear my story. Fast forward three weeks, we received back every penny we had paid even though all I asked was to have the monthly payments stopped.
*I once found a hair in a cookie, I sent it back with a letter and received $10 in free cookie coupons.
*I once had a cereal that tasted like chap stick, I told the company and they sent me about $12 worth of free coupons.
*I paid $120 for a hair straightener (if you had my hair, you would too). It broke after three months. I had my receipt and was able to get the warranty honored. 9 months later--truly two days after my warranty expired, it broke again. I sent a letter explaining it and received a newer model replacement.
*I once bought a package of pens that had the lids not closed all the ways, the felt tips were dried out. I mailed them back with a note and received a whole gift pack full of all kinds of pens made by this same company.
*We did a company party at a restaurant/hotel and it was horrible. I sent a letter detailing this and we received a two night stay at the hotel with all meals as well as a 50% refund on what we spent on the party.
I could go on and on, I've written a couple dozen letters and 90% of them has been effective one way or another. It's not always about money, it's been about contracts, and promises, and immoral commercials. The least effective is the commercials, however some of them disappeared soon after I complained--coincidence? Perhaps, I chose to think I'm all powerful.
Soo000, about two years ago I bought a Pampered Chef Deep Dish baker. Love it. Love everything from Pampered Chef I own except for the weird rolling pin I've never figured out, although it's a dandy back massager. Anyway, I loved this deep dish baker. About a month or so ago I was cooking fish, and for the last couple minutes I set it to broil. When I opened the oven the dish had split down the middle. Luckily, the fish was still edible, but my dish was a total loss. I was very sad because, as I said, I loved this pan. For anyone that's not a homemaker or a cook that might sound strange, but I know many women with strong attachment to their cooking implements.
Well, the two pieces sat on my counter for weeks--further entrenching my sadness each time I looked at them. Pampered Chef is a great company and I have had things replaced by them in the past, but I'd always had my receipt. For some reason, I had no receipt of this pan. I looked everywhere and finally had to accept I was out of luck. Without a receipt, how could I possibly prove I deserved a replacement? However, with my lengthy track record I decided it was worth my $5 to send it back, with a letter of explanation, and see what happened.
Low and behold, yesterday there was a big box from none other than Pampered Chef. I didn't get a deep dish baker, but I did get a stoneware rectangular baking dish with the same finish as the deep dish baker. Their prices are comparable and I'm in no mind to complain in the least.
If you too would like to establish a track record of refunds, here are a few tips
*Be as nice as possible. Even if you've been wronged there is a difference between saying "To Whom it may Concern" and saying "You bulbous faced idiot"
*Keep it one page or less. I learned after the first 4 page letter than most things can be said in a page and that's all they will likely read anyway. Sometimes, admittedly, you need more than one page, but usually you don't.
*Sound professional. Write the letter on you computer, in block format, with good grammar. Don't personally attack anyone specific unless they really earned it (like the timeshare guy that made us all the lame promises)
*Be wary of making demands. Now sometimes you have to, such as demanding our sweat equity money, but most of the time leaving it up to them will get you a better return. If you ever saw the Seinfeld episode where Kramer burned himself with coffee and then agreed to the settlement as soon as they said they'd give him a lifetime supply of free coffee. He cut them off before they got to the money part of their settlement.
*Include as many details as possible, such as purchase date, attempts you've made to contact them, who you've spoken too.
*Be absolutely 100% honest. I have never attempted to hoodwink anyone into giving me something, or replacing something, or refunding something that I didn't deserve to have replaced. I'm always honest on how it broke. For examply, I broke my Mac Mouse a few months ago. I dropped it, which voids the warrenty. I took it to an Apple store and they suggested I send it back--since it didn't look broken--and just tell them it stopped working. I didn't do this. I bought a new mouse and sold the broken one on eBay for $10 (new they are $75) I admit it was hard, since I know I could have gotten away with the lie, but I didn't do it. All my letters have been sincere and I think that's made a huge difference.
*Send a thank you. When a company does take your words seriously and makes an effort to right a wrong, be sure and send them a thank you so that they know it was appreciated. Besides, being grateful is a highly underestimated gift to yourself. Acknowledge that they had the choice to ignore you and they didn't, that's big.
Anyway, I've included the letter I wrote to Pampered Chef. Some of my letters are not quite so nicely worded, but in this instance they owed me nothing since I had no reciept, so I kept it very light and complimentary. Bon Appetite.
phone number here
One Pampered Chef Ln.
Addison, Illinois 60101-5630
April 7, 2008
To Whom it May Concern:
I’m returning my stoneware deep dish baker because, as you can see, it broke. I looked through my receipts and can’t find the show through which I bought this one. I have many pampered chef products and them, I very much liked this particular piece. I live in Willard Utah and would have purchased it through one of the shows I’ve attended in the last few years, but I can’t remember which one, let alone, which consultant I bought it through. I got it when the cranberry exterior was new and I’m hoping that there is some way I can get a replacement. Again, I realize that without a receipt I might not be able to do that, but I’m wanted to try. I was cooking some fish and opened the oven to check on it to find the dish cracked down the middle.
If I can’t get a return, well at least the pieces are out of my kitchen. Thank you for your consideration. Best of luck.
Josi S. Kilpack