A few weeks ago, I was making one my regular train trips to London when I suddenly realised that I was enjoying the journey. Eventually, it occurred to me that this very unfamiliar feeling was the result of a broken PA system on the train. Wouldn't it be great if all trains were this quiet, I thought.
Out came the laptop.....
29th March 2013
East Coast Customer Relations
Dear Customer Relations,
I really like East Coast. I think you are much better than the National Railway Museum because their collection of really old trains doesn't go anywhere whereas yours somtimes does. Also, the National Railway Museum doesn’t do bacon toasties.
I was on one of your old trains this week. It was so old that it didn’t have any speakers for the train guard to make announcements (or perhaps it did but they were broken). Anyway, it was ever so peaceful without all those noisy announcements.
It occurred to me that it would be a really good idea to remove all the speakers from all your trains. Journeys would so be much nicer and you would make lots of extra money from making all the people who get on the wrong train with weekend-super-saver-off-peak-discount tickets buy a new one at full fare!
Then you will be able to buy even more really old trains! How cool would that be!
Alas, East Coast aren't quite ready to stop pissing off their customers with a constant barrage of loud, largely pointless and utterly irritating announcements:
8th April 2013
Thank you for your letter received on 2nd April 2013.
I note with interest your suggestion about removing the speakers from all our trains to provide a quieter journey experience. Regrettably, we are unable to put this into practice because this is our way of passing across information to customers.
We value all of the comments that we receive about our services and hold regular Service Review Meetings to consider them, so your comments will be passed on.
I am delighted to hear that you are so pleased with the service of our Historic Trains. Everyone here at East Coast is working hard to improve the service we provide for our customers. Our aim is to provide the best possible journey experience for east Coast customers and it is very pleasing to get feedback that shows we have had some success.
Thank you again for taking the time to write. I will pass your commenst to everyone involved. I am sure that will be as delighted as I am to hear that we are getting it right.
Customer Relations Advisor
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Every so often, we feature funny replies rather than complaints - such as the recently featured spoof reply from HMRC written by comendian Chris Addison. Recently, a couple of examples on the subject of gold have been circulating on the web. If anyone knows the original authors, please let us know. The first of these is (allegedly) from WeBuyGold.com to a gentleman by the name of Mr. Silentbill:
Dear Mr. Silentbill,
We are sorry to inform you that the 1 ounce Krugerrand gold coins that you sent us are in fact chocolate coins in gold foil and would not warrantthe £30,000 you requested.
Our records shows that this is not the first time that you have sent us items which were unsuitable for appraisal. As explained in a previous letter, we coud not accept 'Gold - The Best of Spandau Ballet' CD, regardless of you stating that track 1 was the song you lost your virginity to.
Just to clarify that when we offer to buy gold, we specify that it is of the precious metal variety. Seeing as you have failed to grasp this concept then please find the definition of gold below:
"Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au (from Latin: Aurum "gold") and an atomic number of 79. Gold metal is dense, soft, shiny and the most malleable and ductile pure metal known. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Gold is one of the coinage metals and has served as a symbol of wealth and a store of value throughout history. Gold standards have provided a basis for monetary policies".
We hope this clarifies the matter and we please ask that you do not send any more items unless they are of the gold variety described above.
The second example is on the same lines. This one (allegedly) comes from another of the online gold buyers - Cash4Gold.com from Pompano Beach Florida (which is a place I know very well as it happens). This time, it is a consignment of gold nuggets rather than gold coins that is being called into question:
After sending back your zip lock bag of gold painted rocks that you considered "14 karat gold nuggets found on a soul searching pilgrimage in Tibet with a quadriplegic hooker you picked up in Singapore", we find it difficult that you cannot understand the concept of "Do Not Contact Us Again".
Your fraudulent attempt to extort money from our seasoned geologists (who are experts in identifying precious metals) has forced us to take extreme action; this is your final warning before we contact the authorities. Your "rocks" have shown up in our inventory three times now. We will no longer attempt to return them, but will keep them as evidence. You are not entitled to any money, especially the ludicrous amount of $1,423,061.92 you demanded for your Cash for Gold payment. Your petition for an "ungreased Hammertime lovemaking session" with our telemarketers Carol and Tracy is feral and preposterous. Your absurd request to be reimbursed for postage ($167.45, $138.33 & $142.73) is unwarranted and completely illicit. As a remnder, Mr. Haberny, Ed McMahon passed away June 23, 2009. It is not only disrespectful but also utterly moronic to request the he host your birthday party at McDonalds.
This is the last time that we will be in contact with you.
The taxman does have a sense of humour! If only that was true. Alas, this fantastic letter from the Inland Revenue to comedian Chris Addison is a spoof penned by Mr. Addison himself for his 'Funny Money' column in The Guardian newspaper back in September 2003.
Nevertheless, it is still utterly brilliant!
Dear Mr Addison,
I am writing to you to express our thanks for your more than prompt reply to our latest communication, and also to answer some of the points you raise.
I will address them, as ever, in order.
Firstly, I must take issue with your description of our last as a “begging letter”. It might perhaps more properly be referred to as a “tax demand”. This is how we, at the Inland Revenue have always, for reasons of accuracy; traditionally referred to such documents.
Secondly, your frustration at our adding to the “endless stream of crapulent whining and panhandling vomited daily through the letterbox on to the doormat” has been noted. However, whilst I have naturally not seen the other letters to which you refer I would cautiously suggest that their being from “pauper councils, Lombardy pirate banking houses and pissant gas-mongerers” might indicate that your decision to “file them next to the toilet in case of emergencies" is at best a little ill-advised.
In common with my own organisation, it is unlikely that the senders of these letters do see you as a “lackwit bumpkin" or, come to that, a “sodding charity”. More likely they see you as a citizen of Great Britain, with a responsibility to contribute to the upkeep of the nation as a whole.
Which brings me to my next point.
Whilst there may be some spirit of truth in your assertion that the taxes you pay “go to shore up the canker-blighted, toppling folly that is the Public Services”, a moment’s rudimentary calculation ought to disabuse you of the notion that the government in any way expects you to “stump up for the whole damned party” yourself. The estimates you provide for the Chancellor’s disbursement of the funds levied by taxation, whilst colourful, are, in fairness, a little off the mark. Less than you seem to imagine is spent on “junkets for Bunterish lickspittles” and “dancing whores” whilst far more than you have accounted for is allocated to, for example, “that box-ticking facade of a university system.”
A couple of technical points arising from direct queries:
1. The reason we don’t simply write “Muggins” on the envelope has to do with the vagaries of the postal system;
2. You can rest assured that “sucking the very marrows of those with nothing else to give” has never been considered as a practice because even if the Personal Allowance didn’t render it irrelevant, the sheer medical logistics involved would make it financially unviable.
I trust this has helped. In the meantime, whilst I would not in any way wish to influence your decision one way or the other, I ought to point out that even if you did choose to “give the whole foul jamboree up and go and live in India” you would still owe us the money.
Please forward it by Friday.
H J Lee
PS Thanks to the Guardian Money Desk for their kind consent to reproduce this letter.
I came across this letter to the Vegetarian Society during one my regular trawls of the internet looking for funny complaints and silly letters. Its author, Hayden Edwards, sends rather silly letters to unsuspecting retailers and service providers. Hayden's Blog, 'To Whom It May Concern..' (see sidebar for link) contains many very funny examples including a complaint to Sainsburys because the trout she bought at the fish counter wouldn't swim in the garden pond!
Dear Vegetarian Society,
It has been 15 years, a few days and a couple of accidently deleted answering machine messages since my elderly neighbour Jean turned to me in IKEA's childrens ball pool and said "You should be a vegetarian".
She always has words of wisdom and she was so right. From that day on, I proudly called my self a Vegetarian. I even managed to resist buying those beautiful hotdogs on the way out of IKEA. Jean didn't, she managed to gobble down 8 at the bus stop before she was sick.
Over the last decade and a half as a vegetarian, I have enjoyed spreading the word and have even succesfully managed to convert an alcoholic and a nun to the good cause. I have written to Quorn, bought a goat from a farmer to save it (unfortunately it did pass away 2 weeks later after it got stuck in the cinema) and am writing a book of recipes I have invented for others to enjoy.
However, since yesterday my faith has been badly damaged and I don't know what to do.
It all started when Jean and I decided to take a cycle to the beach as the weather was beautiful. Jean was showing off as usual and rushing ahead when I spotted a tractor in the distance which appeared to have no driver, I shouted and shouted to Jean to warn her but as I did so, something, perhaps a fly or a baby owl flew into my mouth and I swallowed it whole!
All my hard work as a vegetarian had been ruined.
I am writing to ask for forgiveness and guidance as I'm frightened I may have actually enjoyed the taste and may be tempted to cycle around with my mouth open in the future.
I hope you can understand urgency of my letter and that your response will be a rapid one.
Full marks to Bronwen Humphreys at the Vegetarian Society for sending a reply:
As it seems unlikely a baby owl would be out in broad daylight, I think it is possible you may have swallowed a fly or some similar winged insect. As it was an accident, no-one would blame you.
I’m sure most of us have experienced little slip-ups in a lifetime of vegetarianism and it would be a shame to say that one incident ruined all the positive aspects of being a long-term vegetarian. You should just try and put it behind you.
Local Network Co-ordinator
You can follow Hayden on Twitter: @HaydensWords
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This rather silly letter was written by Thomas de Graaff who I believe is probably Dutch. What is more certain is that Thomas is a mad as a sack of rabid cats, as you can see by following the sidebar link to his 'Dear Ferrero' Blog.
Anyway, when they received Thomas's letter, rather than calling the guys in the white coats, those very sporting chaps at Innocent Drinks decided to humour Thomas with a reply - and a rather fetching portrait of Thomas!
Dear Innocent Drinks,
Allow me to explain how a seemingly innocent smoothie of yours has changed my life in the most incredible way. You may find my account hard to believe, however I feel it is vital that you be aware of what your product has been capable of.
It all started on an unusually hot August evening in 1921. With much of the strawberry-infested European continent in the grip of a scorching heat wave, water scarcity had reached a critical stage nationwide. As I went about picking beans on my neighbour’s vegetable field, my attention was promptly drawn to the top of a bottle protruding from the dry cracked soil. Curious as I was, for an inexplicable reason I couldn’t bring myself to touch it. Instead, struck by a sudden sense of disorientation I got up and ran off.
Upon returning home I was astonished to find that very same bottle sitting on the kitchen table. It bore a label reading “innocent”, which led me into believing that the pink coloured liquid contained within would be safe to drink. So I unscrewed the cap, brought the bottle to my lips and emptied it in one go.
Shortly after, the drowsiness set in. When I woke up, I immediately felt that something wasn’t quite right. My body mass seemed to have dropped significantly, my field of view had changed, and moving was a different experience altogether. Later that night, dad affirmed that I had morphed into a parrot.
I have been longing to write to you for many decades. The main challenge I faced was to build up a sufficiently sized vocabulary which would enable me to dictate my letter to a human being. On the one hand, I am grateful for still feeling fit at the advanced age of 95. On the other hand, I feel that there is so much I could have achieved if only I hadn’t drunk your smoothie and morphed into a bird. That is why first of all, I would like to ask you for some sort of compensation. Also, and perhaps more importantly, I would like to learn whether you know of any similar cases. I would be delighted to meet a few individuals who have lived through the same experience as I have.
I look forward to your reply.
Remarkably, the staff in the Innocent Drinks Customer Relations Department replied very much in the spirit of Thomas's letter:
Hello there Thomas,
We’re sorry to hear that you’ve spent much of your life as a bird, though we can’t help but think about all the good stuff that comes with having a set of wings.
The perks of being a bird include:
- great view at all times
- no rush hour traffic
- you can live wherever you want
- great singing voice
- fully entitled to attack nut-stealing squirrels
- you were ‘tweeting’ way before we were
We do realise though, that there are some things you will have missed out on over the years, like:
- Sunday roasts
- wearing the latest fashions
- having an iPad
- watching Deal or No Deal*
- being able to do the robot dance
We’d love to say sorry by sending you something nice, but don’t have your address yet. If you’d like to tell us which tree you’re currently living in (along with the postcode) we’ll pop something in the post for you.
Hope to hear from you soon,
*unless you’re perched outside someone’s front room window
What's more, Rio sent a voucher and a drawing of how they imagined Thomas must now look (though his ornithological knowledge is clearly not a great deal better than his spelling!):
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Near the North Pole.
It’s a very long time since I last wrote to you. I suspect my last letter was asking for a diving suit for my Action Man. My spelling was probably a bit dodgy but I probably used my very best joined up writing. You must have read it though because the diving suit showed up on Christmas morning. You also ate the mince pie and drank the little glass of sherry (man, you must have been pissed when you got back to Lapland). Rudolph even ate some of the carrot.
But you didn’t turn up again this year did you Santa? It was just the same with the tooth fairy earlier this year when I had a wisdom tooth removed. You mythical characters are a bunch of slackers!
No, Christmas isn’t what it used to be.
Nonetheless, my wife adores Christmas. To be more accurate, my wife adores Christmas from February to November. She spends December doing what you, Santa, are supposed to be doing (and bankrupting the household in the process). In January, she gets counselling for post-traumatic stress disorder.
I hate Christmas.
Even as I began typing this, Santa, some warm-hearted pillock has just knocked and my door and separated me from another £2 of my hard-earned cash for a crappy snowman pin badge in aid of some hitherto unheard of charity caring for unspecified children suffering unspecified misfortunes in unspecified locations. He's probably just screwed me and my money is going towards a mighty Christmas piss-up in the next village but in this season of goodwill to all men, I couldn't exactly tell him to shove his little snowman up his own private ice hole (tempting as that might have been).
And now, to make matters worse, the Sellotape dispenser has gone missing again. Little wonder when we have a spare bedroom dedicated to the art of industrial scale wrapping and known at this time of year as the ‘Wrapping Room’. It’s not as if we have a huge family or hundreds of friends but it’s like the Amazon.com warehouse in there. No wonder my beloved family can’t find the bloody Selloptape. “Try aisle 36 – ‘Presents for Distant Relatives and Work Colleagues that Didn’t Piss Us Off This Year!!”, I shout helpfully.
God, I hate Christmas.
People do such weird things at Christmas.
By way of example, my wife and daughter have erected in our living room an eight foot tall, largely plastic, replica of a pine tree, having first rearranged all the furniture to accommodate it. They then covered said replica tree in shiny balls of glass and plastic following which they spent two hours untangling about 40 yards of lights and establishing which of the 400 little bulbs didn’t work. Having finally located the broken bulb, they spent a further two hours locating the spare ones before they finally got the lights working. They tell me that they enjoy this annual ritual.
I hate the Christmas Tree Ritual.
The only time I enjoyed the Christmas Tree Ritual was when we chose a real pine tree and unbeknown to us, there was a bat asleep inside the tree. Its peaceful hibernation was rudely interrupted when the 400 little lights were switched on and it began screeching around the living room at 400 miles per hour, spraying bat droppings as it went. Seeing my wife hit the floor in less than a nanosecond and attempting to lie as flat as a sheet of lasagne was one of the funniest things I have ever seen.
Since we got the plastic tree, it just hasn’t been the same.
However, despite the undeniable artificiality of the tree, the cat now thinks that the living room is a garden. In that the cat also thinks that a garden is a toilet, this is far from ideal. As a result, the cat and I do not get on well at Christmas.
That doesn’t stop the cat from getting a present from the Wrapping Room of course.
My wife buys the cat a little packet of Cat Nip. In case you don’t know, Santa, Cat Nip is rather like a feline version of LSD – laced with Viagra. I like to sprinkle the stuff around the cat’s scratching pole. Watching the little fur ball trying to have sex with a roll of carpet is almost as funny as watching my wife avoiding a low-flying bat.
When you hate Christmas as much as I do, Santa, you have to find your amusement where you can.
Because at Christmas, Santa, the world goes completely crazy.
For instance, why is it that at Christmas, we can never get enough satsumas? At any other time of year, no one gives a stuff about these crappy, nondescript citrus fruits but at this time year, the entire country starts buying huge orange string bags full of the bloody things as if our very lives depend on it. Why?
The same goes for mulled wine. 11 months of the year and we’re content to drink our plonk chilled or at room temperature. December arrives and suddenly, we’re boiling it up and sticking cloves and cinnamon sticks in it. And you know what? It’s bloody disgusting. It’s like drinking hot Pot Pourri.
And then there’s the Christmas turkey. Why in God’s name do hundreds of millions of people eat this pug-ugly and completely tasteless bird on the same day each year? Why, for instance, don’t we eat penguins? At least they would be in keeping with the snowy Christmas theme. There are millions and millions of them. David Attenborough said so.
Personally, I’d rather have a curry. I hate Christmas dinner.
I hate Christmas cards too. My wife sends Christmas cards to people we haven’t seen for thirty years! Some of them are probably dead! Most of those who are still alive have probably forgotten who we are. My wife also puts Christmas cards on display. We have them on window sills and shelves all over the house. I open them and throw them away. I figure if she thinks a few people haven’t sent us a card, it will save a few stamps next year.
Most of all though, I hate Christmas songs. There is simply no escape from the mind-numbing, all-pervading crappiness emanating, it seems, from every single loud speaker in the world. Every time I hear ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Bloody Reindeer’, I want to rip his antlers off and stab myself with them.
Do you know what I got for Christmas, Santa? I got credit card debts, that’s what.
Great big red-nosed credit card debts with bloody Jingle Bells on.
All because you can’t be arsed to show up!
You lazy sod!
PS. Merry Christmas!
I hadn't written any mischief letters for a while so I thought it was high time I did. When the cat threw up all over the kitchen again this week, I had an idea....
Customer Relations Department
Mars Petcare UK
3D Dundee Road
Berkshire SL1 4LG
Dear Customer Relations,
Whiskas and Feline Eating Disorders
I have a cat called Nahla (I’d rather have a dog but cats bury their own poo in the garden – usually someone else’s - which is a lot better than picking up smelly poos and putting them in a bin). She’s named after the lioness in the Lion King. She doesn’t look much like a lion, in fact she looks like a tiger that shrank in the wash because she’s small and stripy, but she seems to like the name.
She also likes Whiskas ‘Oh So Meaty’ in Jelly. In fact, she likes Whiskas so much that she gets very stroppy when we give her crunchy cat food which the vet says we have to on account of her gum disease. Her favourite Whiskas is the poultry selection. She doesn’t like the ‘Oh So Fishy’ ones – probably because we live a long way from the sea.
Anyway, I am beginning to get a little worried about Nahla because she keeps being sick after she has eaten her Whiskas. Unfortunately, she seems to prefer to throw up in the house instead of in other people’s gardens. I don’t particularly like the look or smell of Whiskas when it’s fresh from the pouch. When it’s been inside a cat for ten minutes, it’s not nice at all!
I think she is displaying a lot of the classic symptoms of Bulimia.
I have looked up Bulimia on the NHS website and it says that low self esteem could be a major factor. Nahla is much smaller than all the other cats in the neighbourhood and her tummy is a bit ‘saggy’ since she had kittens when she was very young. I suspect that she is being bullied. She is also adopted (she was already over a year old when she came to us) so perhaps she is insecure.
As you are clearly very expert in the area of feline nutrition, I was hoping that you may be able to offer some advice.
Full marks to Mars Petcare, and in particular, to Susan Hendy from their Customer Care Team. She was soon back to me with a very helpful reply:
Naturally, I'm obliged to serve another volley now that I know I have someone to play with....
Watch this space.
This one has been tweeted about across the globe so I asked the author, David Thorne, if he would mind me sharing it on DCR. Its not exactly a complaint letter but is a series of formal complaints allegedly made about David by a work colleague. It first appeared on David's utterly brilliant 27b/6 Blog (link in the sidebar).
David has also published a book containing much of the correspondence from the 27b/6 blog: 'The Internet is a Playground - Irreverent Correspondences of an Evil Online Genius' [ISBN 978-1-58542-881-6]
Anyway, this one is about complaints and it's very funny, so here it is:
Ten F26-A formal complaint notices
in six months.
Apparently after receiving three, you are meant to have some kind of formal meeting between the parties involved but this never happened. According to the rules, if there are five complaints, an external mediator has to be bought in. This didn't happen either and I was quite disappointed.
I don't really have anything against Simon apart from the fact that he likes the band Nickelback and has no sense of humour; I just get bored. There have actually been twelve formal complaints by Simon against me but two of those were complaining that nothing had been done about the previous formal complaints so I didn't bother scanning those in.
As readers of this blog will know, I am always on the look out for funny complaint letters. This one however is a funny response to a complaint. As ever, there is no guaratee that this exchange is genuine but in this case, we appear to have scans of the original correspondence so it may just be the real thing. At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter.
The letters were allegedly written some 27 years ago between a Mr Dale O. Cox, a lawyer, and a season ticket holder of the Cleveland Browns and the Cleveland Stadium Corporation. Mr Cox was unhappy about a growing trend amongst Browns fans to make paper aeroplanes out of the match programme:
The reply from the Stadium Corporation came from their own legal counsel - a Mr. James N. Bailey - and was pure, unadulterated genius:
If you have come across any brilliant put-downs, please send them in!!
It should be possible to spend a few peaceful moments in the smallest room without getting annoyed.. but, no. Try as I might, I can't get that bloody loo roll to tear along the perforations. I suppose that if it did, that puppy wouldn't be able to run all over the house dragging the stuff all over the place....
1 Tower View
Dear Customer Relations,
Andrex Toilet Tissue
What is so difficult about making toilet tissue that tears along the dotted line?