One Ring to Rule them all…
This exchange with costume jewellery retailer Pandora was submitted by Stephen Crowley who, like me, is prone to writing tongue-in-cheek complaints from time to time. (You can see more of his writings on his blog by clicking here). The Pandora saga is an epic tale, featuring wizards, elves, orcs, a turkey and a baboon’s bottom.
You might want to put the kettle on before you read it…
1st April 2014
Dear Customer Relations,
I am writing to seek resolution to something that I never thought would cause so much trauma and heartache – the purchase of a ring for an 11 year old little girl for Christmas.
This whole sorry saga began in November 2013 (see attached photo of receipt as proof of purchase). My wife paid for the ring on the understanding that it would need to be made to order to fit my daughter’s sylph like finger. My wife was told that it could take a while and it was likely to be later than Christmas – possibly January of 2014. My daughter really wanted this ring and was prepared to wait. We have after all, raised her to appreciate the middle class virtue of deferred gratification. If that phrase is a little lost on you, think Heinz Tomato Ketchup – the best things come to those who wait…
Christmas came and went. It was traumatic, not least because I under-cooked the turkey and made 15 close family members seriously ill with some form of botulism. Five of those affected needed hospital treatment and to this day, instead of household toilet paper, they must use baby wet wipes impregnated with aloe vera in order to avoid intense pain after a bowel movement. Have you ever seen a baboon in season? I think you get the picture.
Anyway, I digress.
January came and went. My wife contacted you and was told on the first couple of occasions that there was a backlog. On another occasion, she was told that the ring would be with us within a week.
February came and went and again my wife was fobbed off with some story about how the dwarven ring makers of Mordor had been held captive by the mighty Sauron and that this certainly had not helped to free up the aforementioned back log situation.
A couple more phone calls and we were finally into March. The ring had been bought and paid for in the Winter month of November and 5, yes FIVE months later in the SPRING, we were still waiting for the One Ring to Rule Them All.
Eventually, we were informed in the middle of March that the ring could be collected.
My wife, incensed, sent me on the arduous trip of the Fellowship of the Ring. We held Council at the House of Elrond with the Dwarves, Elves and Men of Middle Earth, and despite my best protestations that my daughter should be packed onto a bus (after all, it was her bloody ring), it was decided that I should go on the Quest.
I travelled to our local Pandora outlet and collected the ring. The journey was a lot less harrowing than anticipated – no sign of Orcs, Goblins or that turncoat, Saruman. All that hindered my progress was diverted traffic due to a 10k fun run.
I arrived, with daughter in tow, and picked up the ring. I held the ring aloft and I swear that a bright light shone above my hand like a heavenly halo, as if some momentous event was about to take place. My daughter said that a xenon and argon strip light in the shop was on the blink1 but I know what I saw and I certainly didn’t imagine the chorus of angelic voices singing that creepy theme from the Omen (original Gregory Peck version, not the sub par modern version), although it is curious that no one else could hear it.
I gently placed the ring (which fit perfectly) onto my daughter’s finger and waited…
And, do you know what happened?
BUGGER ALL HAPPENED!!!2
Five sodding, tortuous months and all we got was a run of the mill Pandora bloody ring!?
I don’t mind waiting five (yes FIVE) months, for a ring, but the very least I expect is a ring that bestows unto the wearer, unlimited power across the land. What we got was a mass marketed piece of silver tat.
I wait with seriously bated breath, for your considered and reasoned response in settlement of this whole sorry affair.
After chasing them up, googling ‘Pandora complaints’, finding some personal email addresses of Pandora employees etc… Steve finally got this response:
Dear Mr Crowley,
Thank you for taking the time to email PANDORA with possibly my favourite email ever.
Please let me begin by sincerely apologising for the frustration and disappointment that I understand this situation with the ring will have caused you, your wife and of course your daughter, since this ring was purchased last year. I’d like to say how sorry I am that you have had to wait several months for the ring to arrive in store, especially as our Cabot Circus store initially took payment in November and you seem to additionally have had such a traumatic time whilst waiting too. I sincerely hope that your family members have all recovered now and that they are not ones to hold a turkey-related grudge. After once poisoning all my friends at university with rogue sausages, I can appreciate that it is quite an awkward scenario to encounter.
Regarding your daughter’s ring, as PANDORA stores are franchises and own run individual businesses, I have passed on your email to both the relevant franchise partners and our Cabot Circus store’s area manager so that they are made aware that you have waited far longer than expected for your daughter’s ring to arrive. We will also be addressing this directly with our Cabot Circus store as we completely agree that this timeframe between payment being taken and the ring arriving with you is unacceptable. I can confirm that we will be taking steps to prevent this type of delay from occurring in the future and advising our stores against taking pre-payment for items such as rings.
We have unfortunately experienced some manufacturing delays with certain key items in our ring range and I’m so sorry that these delays, coupled with the continued high demand we have experienced has affected your purchase with us. Of course, the situation with Sauron didn’t help and on a side note, Frodo also kept trying to push to the front of queue which further delayed proceedings, especially as he understandably wanted the smaller rings too.
I am so glad to hear that you safely navigated the fun run, your quest to the store was successful and that your daughter’s ring fitted perfectly in the end. I sincerely hope that she is thrilled with it, even though it didn’t bestow on her the desired power across the land. I’m sorry to tell you that your daughter is right in that unfortunately it probably was just a light on the blink in the store rather than a heavenly halo. Of course, it may also have been a blinding beam of sunshine, but as we’re in England this is also unlikely. Most excitingly, perhaps the light was Gandalf secretly bestowing some sort of power in the ring that has a delayed reaction? I hope so.
I hope that my email goes some way to explaining the reasons for the delay with the ring, and please accept my apologies once again for the wait you and your family have experienced. If you do have any more questions please don’t hesitate to let me know.
Bobby Lee Tucker
Fair play to Bobby Lee – humour and apology all in one. Mission accomplished you might think. Not a bit of it. Stephen couldn’t leave it there….
Whilst I thank you for your verbose reply, I cannot help but feel from the tone of your email that you are mocking me. Indeed, I suspect you have never read ‘A Complete History of Middle Earth’ – it stands as one of the greatest history books written since Stephen Hawking’s ‘A Brief History of Time’, (which sadly I never finished because I found it impossible to read without putting on a metallic computer voice in my head).
Had you read ‘A Complete History of Middle Earth’, perhaps you would appreciate just how much we owe the halfling race (colloquially known as Hobbits) after they showed so much courage and resilience in the face of almost certain doom.
Nonetheless, I will allow you a degree of ignorance as I am well aware that many people see the events recorded in The Lord of the Rings as nothing more than folklore, or fantasy if you will. Let me assure you however, that here in the Southern Cotswolds, the hobbit race thrives and, contrary to popular belief, not as a result of incessant inbreeding among the townsfolk.3
So, back to the matter in hand. I am delighted that my complaint is going to result in a change in “pre payment for pre ordered items policy”. That is a relief. I wonder if you could go one step further and in order to reduce the amount of turkey related food poisoning incidents, would you mind posting the following paragraph on your website?
“The latest advice from the British Turkey Information Service is that if the turkey is over 4kg, calculate 20 mins per kg + 90 mins. If the bird is under 4kg, calculate 20 mins per kg + 70 mins. To test if it’s done, make sure the juices run clear when you pierce the thigh where it meets the body. If not, put it back in the oven for another 20 mins, then test again.”4
Thank you. Between us, we can save lives.
Now, am I to understand that the Cabot Circus branch of Pandora will be contacting me shortly in order to resolve my complaint? As you agree yourself, five months is a little longer than one would expect for the delivery of non-magical jewellery. Indeed, whilst this is my daughter’s first item of Pandora merchandise, my wife has long been a fan and owns several rings (see photo; unfortunately, my wife was unwilling to model the rings, so I am modelling them myself).
As such, I would expect a gesture of goodwill to be forthcoming in recognition of such poor service and our loyal custom. In case my previous email did not quite convey the distress caused to my daughter, I also attach a picture of her at the height of her melancholy.
I await your advices.
PS. Do you actually make rings with magical properties? I am after one that makes the wearer irresistible to the opposite sex. Not for me, you understand, but for a “friend”.
PPS. Would Pandora consider writing their name normally instead of wholly capitalised since it tends to read as if you suffer some form of Tourettes Syndrome…
PANDORA! …see what I mean?
PPPS. I hope you like the photo – just so you are aware, I am available for hand modelling work.
Stephen heard nothing for a whole 13 hours, so he decided to do a bit of chasing…
I wonder if you could reply to my previous email. I sent it to you over 13 hours ago, but do not appear to have received a response.
The stress from this debacle has resulted in my not being able to sleep for 7 days straight. I am beginning to hallucinate all manner of nightmarish things – believe me when I say, Orcs, Goblins and Trolls are the least of my worries.
In the small hours of this morning, I awoke to find Mr Benn in my wardrobe, trying on all my clothes. Scared the living crap out of me. (In the event that you were born after 1975, I should explain that Mr Benn was a children’s programme where the main protagonist would visit a fancy dress shop every episode, try on some period clothing, and then be magically transported to the era that corresponded to his attire for a fun packed adventure. I attach a picture of Mr Benn from the episode where he was whisked away to Ancient Rome).
I do hope that you are not utilising your time at work, downloading the pictures I sent to you in the previous email, and laughing with your colleagues at me behind my back. That would be most unprofessional. It is not my fault that I suffer contact dermatitis on the back of my hands, and as for the picture of my daughter – you will appreciate that it is private and personal. I do not want pictures of my daughter distributed amongst people whom I do not know.
I await your reply.
PS: In case you haven’t had chance to consider my offer of hand modelling, I can assure you that my fees are very reasonable.
Stephen still didn’t hear anything, so he emailed Bobby Lee as well as another employee (who he refers to as ‘Verity’) who he had previously emailed at PANDORA!:
Bobby Lee, Verity – I am sorry to be persistent but I am very concerned.
Bobby Lee, I have emailed you twice now but do not appear to have received a response.
Verity, I have cc’d you in on this, since I am genuinely worried for Bobby Lee’s safety. I suspect the Eye of Sauron has detected his work for the good of The One Ring, and he has sent out the Ring Wraiths (or Nazgul) to seek him out and capture him.
So, two things, Verity:
1. Please could you check to see that Bobby Lee is safe – please be assured this may be a matter of life and death.
2. Could you take up my complaint and move it forward to a speedy resolution. In the event that you are unable to do this (and I will wholly understand, since these are perilous times), simply forward me the name and email address of the Managing or Public Relations Director in order that I may contact them directly.
Please do so as soon as is humanly (or hobbitly!) possible as I now fear that dark forces are conspiring against me and suspect we have little time to spare!
Yours in trepidation,
However, it turned out that Bobby Lee was safe and sent this response:
Dear Mr Crowley,
Thank you for your messages, and your concern for my safety.
I’m pleased to set your mind at rest and confirm firstly that I am still alive and kicking. Secondly, and more importantly, I have received confirmation that the franchise partner responsible for our Cabot Circus store will be contacting you shortly in order to help resolve your complaint. This is being overseen by our Key Account Manager of Sales, who is also aware of the delay with your daughter’s ring.
I’m sincerely sorry for the delay in my reply to your emails over the last day or two; it took a little while to find a safe house away from all the Lord of the Rings meanies in order to write this email safely and without fear that it could be intercepted.
I have also passed your kind offer of hand modelling on and should we have any need for a male hand model in future, the beautiful photograph you provided will guarantee that you’ll be the first in line for a call-up.
Unfortunately, we would be unable to put your helpful turkey-related advice onto our website directly, but I have passed it onto my mum if this of any comfort.
I also googled Mr Benn last night. He is very cool, and I’ve realised just how much my childhood was lacking. All I had were the Teletubbies, which were possibly the most annoying, noisy four things in history.5
Please rest assured that our franchise partner will be in contact with you directly to help further with your complaint. If you have any more questions, stories, drawings or concerns about either my wellbeing or your daughter’s ring in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to let me know.
I hope you and the family have a lovely weekend.
Booby Lee was turning into a bit of a star. Stephen wanted more…
Thank God you are safe, Bobby Lee – I would never have forgiven myself if anything had happened to you.
1. I would seriously reconsider putting the turkey cooking advice on your website. I don’t think you quite appreciate just how much overlap there is between the jewellery and poultry industries.
2. Whilst it is nice to know that Cabot Circus will be in touch with me shortly, I do wish you had informed me earlier as the banners and placards I have been hard at work producing, along with the 25 mates I had lined up pretending to be fellow disgruntled PANDORA! customers are now of no use. I could find another use for the banners by putting a line through PANDORA! and writing Virgin Media instead – I never liked Richard Branson – hasn’t he just got a smug face?
3. I really would appreciate any offer of hand modelling, thank you. Even with beautiful digits like mine, you would be surprised at how hard it is to get any decent work.
4. Whilst the Teletubbies were annoying (and clearly aimed at teenagers coming down from ecstasy or LSD), I believe the most annoying, noisy four things in history to be Noel Edmunds, Gordon Ramsay, Jeremy Kyle and my neighbour when he is having sex in the summer with all the windows open – imagine the sound a walrus might make whilst trying to mount a cactus and you are probably getting pretty close to what I have to put up with July-September, 4 nights a week, every year.6
Thank you for your kind efforts.
Ever good humoured, Bobby Lee replied again:
Dear Mr Crowley,
I hope you had a relaxed, noisy-neighbour and Jeremy Kyle free weekend.
I expect that by now our franchise partner has contacted you to help you further with the complaint regarding your daughter’s ring, but if you have any more questions please feel free to let me know as I would be more than happy to look into these for you.
Regarding your kind poultry advice, I’ve pushed for this to be considered again as an addition to our website but to no avail. I even referenced this little guy to support your cause, but this unfortunately failed because he’s a peacock and not a turkey:
As you can see, he does not look happy at being compared to a turkey.
Whilst Richard Branson and his smug face is a viable alternative for your banners, could I suggest perhaps switching your efforts to digging a pit by the exit of the Jeremy Kyle studios and seeing who/what falls in? I feel that this could be a fitting addition as the credits roll at the end of every show.
On the subject of your daughter’ ring, I sincerely hope that your complaint has since been resolved to an acceptable standard. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any more questions or concerns.
Stephen volleyed the ball straight back over the cyberspace net:
Thank you for your email.
Regarding poultry cooking advice, I suggest we leave it for now. Sometimes, the world just isn’t ready to embrace trailblazers like ourselves. Just take a look at Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Oscar Romero. Yes, they were all shot dead, I’ll grant you that, but my point is that eventually the world did catch up and changed for the better as a result of their personal convictions. I rather suspect the powers that be at PANDORA! will one day come to their senses and we will be proven right.
With regards my daughter’s ring, I am a little embarrassed to report that Cabot Circus have not been in touch and frankly I feel I have exhausted all avenues of Lord of the Rings analogy. Perhaps they are just trying to ensure consistency by making me wait a further 5 months for a response.
Perhaps you would be so kind as to chase them up for me? My banners/placards have not yet been altered and can still be put to good use.
And here is Bobby Lee’s response:
Dear Mr Crowley,
Thank you for letting me know that as of Wednesday, you were still waiting for a response from our franchise partners who are responsible for the Cabot Circus store.
I’m so sorry about this. I informed both my manager and Key Account Manager of Sales upon receiving your email and have now been given confirmation that you have finally been contacted by our franchise partners. I sincerely hope that this has now been resolved for you, and I’m very glad that you didn’t have to wait five months for a response. That would be a little excessive.
I agree that one day I’m sure we’ll be vindicated about our turkey views but after giving it some thought, I don’t think I love the cause enough to risk being shot. I’ve just booked a weekend away to the Lake District and a bullet would be irritating to say the least.
I’m not sure where this week has gone, but once again, best wishes and enjoy the weekend.
Then Stephen got this response from the Franchise Manager at PANDORA!
Dear Mr Crowley
Thank you for taking the time to write to Pandora with regards to the ring you ordered.
I apologise that I have not responded sooner to your complaint but it has only recently been passed to me.
I work for T &E Ferris Ltd who own and operate the Pandora store in Cabot.
I have looked into your order and can see that it was indeed a number of months before the ring arrived.
I am sorry that the store did not give clearer information when the order was placed that it could take so long. I think that everyone was surprised by the demand for the Pandora rings over the Christmas period and this caused the longer than expected lead times it making the special orders.
I can assure you that further training has been given across all of our stores and that longer lead times are given at the point of ordering.
I understand the frustrations that this unexpected delay must have had. As a way of apology I would like to offer you £20 towards any item in our Pandora Cabot store.
Well done Mike. Late, but a creditable effort. Stephen relied… obviously:
Many thanks for your email. I appreciate the response.
A gesture of goodwill of £20 sounds not unreasonable and I appreciate the offer.
Could you just confirm how would I claim this in store? Would I just need to show your email to a member of PANDORA! staff? Also, can I claim the £20 against magical rings, or is it redeemable against non magical merchandise only?
Just when he thought things were all but wrapped up, Stephen received the following email from the Store Manager at his local branch of PANDORA!:
To Mr Crowley,
Further to Pandora’s response of your email, we would like to offer you a £30 gift card which can be used in any stand alone Pandora store.
Please let us know when would be convenient for you to come and collect it, as we will activate the value on that day, so you have a full 12 months to use it.
I apologise for the inconvenience this has caused and hope this will help to resolve it.
Pandora, Cabot Circus
No sooner had Claire’s message landed, than Mike was back again too. Unlike Bobby Lee, Mike was all business:
Dear Mr Crowley
You can use the £20 towards any item in the store including any rings.
I will let the store management know that I have agreed this with you. You just need to go into the store and ask for the manager on duty.
I truly hope you find your next shopping experience with us a pleasure.
So, Stephen now had one manager offering £20, and another offering £30!? Before they realised their mistake, he replied to them both with the following emails:
This is excellent news, thank you.
I would like to pop in tomorrow or Sunday to collect the gift card.
In addition, Mike Tertiary from the franchise partners has offered me £20 so your offer is most welcome and I accept. This means we will have £50 in total to spend in store which is a very welcome resolution to the matter.
Hopefully see you over the weekend.
This is very kind, especially seeing as the Manager at PANDORA! in Bristol has emailed me to offer me a £30 gift card in addition to your kind offer.
This is a very welcome resolution to the matter.
Now, Stephen is no lawyer, but he believes that if an offer is made and a consumer accepts, then it is legally binding. This weekend, he’s off to PANDORA! to acquire a new ring for Mrs. Crowley – for free.
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Stephen’s daughter has a pretty impressive knowledge of the Noble gases for an 11 year old ↩
For American readers: Bugger all is a British slang meaning ‘absolutely nothing’. But you had worked that out hadn’t you? ↩
For American readers: The Cotswolds is an area in south central England containing the Cotswolds Hills, a range of rolling hills which rise from the meadows of the upper Thames to an escarpment, known as the Cotswold Edge, above the Severn Valley and Evesham Vale. The area, designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1966, is considered to have unique features derived from the local Cotswold stone. The predominantly rural landscape contains stone-built villages, historical towns, and stately homes and gardens. It’s the sort of place that is featured in jigsaw puzzles and on boxes of cheap chocolates. No big surprise that there are Hobbits there. But no orcs. They’re found in Essex. ↩
To my amazement, the British Turkey Information Service is not a figment of Stephen’s fertile imagination. Its website, www.britishturkey.co.uk is a veritable mine of information about this pug-ugly and tasteless bird and Christmas dinner in general. For instance, did you know that 67% of us Brits have Brussels Sprouts with our Christmas dinner. Remarkable considering 97% of us can’t stand the bloody things. ↩
For American readers: Teletubbies was indeed an intensely annoying BBC children’s television series targeted at pre-school children and produced from 1997 to 2001 by Ragdoll Productions with re-runs for several more years after that. It had a cult following among university students; possibly because the characters used repetitive non-verbal dialogue so it was a bit like being in the student’s union bar on a Friday night. Because the characters never used actual words, the programme was blamed for ruining the educational chances of an entire generation; although the government of Tony Blair ran for the exactly same period so who knows? ↩
For American readers: Noel Edmonds is a British former radio DJ and later light entertainment TV Presenter. He currently presents the UK version of ‘Deal or No Deal’ (which in the USA is presented by Howie Mandel). He is also a qualified helicopter pilot and an ardent spiritualist. And he is annoying. Gordon Ramsay (not to be confused with US actor Gordon Ramsey) is as well known in the USA as in the UK. No need to explain about the quietly spoken, mild-mannered English gentleman here then. Jeremy Kyle is the host of the most putrid television programme in the history of the world. The Jeremy Kyle Show allows misguided members of dysfunctional families to air their grievances with each other in front of a live television audience. Annoying does not get remotely close. ↩