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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DCR is endebted to Mrs M.W. of Derby who has sent in a letter penned by her husband to the German discount supermarket chain LIDL back in 2009. Alas, they haven't replied just yet.
Clearly, Mr.W is a man I could spend and evening happily leaning on a bar with - as his letter clearly demonstrates. By the way, the footnotes are mine:
13th May 2009
Dear Sir/Madam/Faceless peon of the LIDL Corporation,
I felt compelled to write to yourselves to convey my thoughts and musings after a first visit to one of your stores.
On entering the premises located in Derby at the Meteor Centre at 18.40 hours, I eventually found the few items I required - light bulbs, dishwasher tablets and a whole coconut, (stacked next to Tartan slippers and just below a torch with the power of a million candles!) and after deciphering the strange and cryptic dialect, (possibly Sanskrit?) that the costings of said items were displayed in, I
proceeded to the front of the premises. To where, traditionally it must be said, there is an area set aside for payment, usually occupied by at least one member of the workforce.
Imagine my surprise to find this area totally devoid of human life and instead of a checkout area, the front of your store had been turned into an urban game reserve populated by something David Attenborough would describe as “Not quite the alpha male we were hoping for…?” From the look of it, (him? Her? Chewbacca?) the slouched demeanour and the elongated arms hammering into an electronic device of questionable lifespan (if the force it was being struck with was any
indication) - this was an actual employee. Incredible I know but please do wait as it really does get so much better.
I approached the checkout/game reserve/ape enclosure/Mos Eisley cantina populated by this behemoth and was greeted eventually by a single glance over it’s rather expressive shrugging shoulder, packed with disdain and the thumb over said shoulder gesture teamed with the
obviously textbook ‘Welcome your customer greeting’ of “Not ‘ere, Till one !”
I have to admit that I was rather taken aback at this point to find that firstly, this thing could speak.
Secondly, it was being allowed to populate the public areas without a handler.
Thirdly, it was to all intents and purposes, clothed as the store manager.
You see, I did state it really did get so much better didn’t I ?
Imagine my delight after relocating to “Till one!” I was then treated to a few sideways glances and such sharp exhaling of breath as to embarrass an asthmatic, emphysemic pit pony. There followed much ringing of bells and bellowing of “Wheeeere’s An-dy?” to the rear of the store, some 40 feet away or possibly more. As the store was empty, the echo did not take too much time to return so accurate sonar measurement was unfortunately curtailed.
Now, I understand that running a busy business is a demanding role and far be it from me, a humble customer, to expect to be served within any sort of time frame that is not on a geologic scale. But indulge me just this once please, as a wild and fanciful suggestion from totally left field.
Are you ready……..?
How about this lazy disgrace of an excuse of an employee from your corporation get up off his useless backside and attend to the needs of the person standing in front of him !
I am quite sure you have an expansive and thorough customer service training program rolling out to all employees, as every company worth its salt does. Might I suggest that at the first opportunity you visit this store to experience the majesty of your training program in its full effect? It will take your breath away without a doubt.
It is at this point that the reason for my correspondence enters the fray.
A young man walking the length of the store with a dustpan, brush, broom, mop and bucket clutched in the way that only the terminally harassed can carry off. It was quite obvious that this young man was trying to clean the store but on recognising my need to purchase something, (who would have thought it, in a grocery store to boot?) he apologised for the delay, entered the till area, scanned the items I required and then took payment promptly and courteously. He then
thanked me for my custom and bade me farewell. Now then, if it had not been for this polite and helpful staff member I would have simply left your premises vowing never to return.
It seems that an immediate review or overhaul of your management training in customer service is necessitated. Furthermore it is my strong belief that this young man, (server 10 on the included receipt) would be far better utilised within your business than the whipping boy position he is currently employed in.
Please feel free to respond promptly and succinctly with either your standard customer service template letter, remembering to change the font of the ‘delete as required’ sections so it all looks freshly typed…. or an honest and full explanation of how you intend to address the observations raised, your own findings after a visit to said premises and apology from the individual concerned.
The choice of which I will leave entirely to you.
I will await your response with baited breath. No, seriously I will.
Mr R****** *****
PS. Please feel free to pop this ode to your significant level of customer service on your break room notice board for all to see. Might I suggest next to the vacant ‘Employee of the month’ picture
 For those who inhabit parts of the world not yet infected with LIDL stores, LIDL is a chain of discount supermarkets based in Germany that operates over 10,000 stores across Europe. The company's full name is Lidl (rhymes with piddle) Stiftung (pronounced stiff tongue) & Co. Most people go there to buy cheap bottles of Bailey’s Irish Cream. It is rumoured that some people actually go shopping there on a regular basis.
 Again, for our overseas readers, Derby is a city of quarter of a million souls in the East Midlands of England. It once had a half-decent football team. Its one claim to fame is that a 19thC member of Parliament, one Samuel Plimsoll, invented the line that is painted around every ship in the world. No one knows why.
 Aka Chewie. Big hairy dude from a species know as Wookiees. Best known as Hans Solo’s co-pilot of the Miillennium Falcon.
 Mos Eisley was a spaceport in the panet Tatooine, located in a valley somewhere to the southeast of the Jundland Wastesand roughly 80 kilometers north of Anchorhead, near the desert palace of Jabba the Hutt. Chalmun's Cantina played a crucial role as the establishment was where Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi met Han Solo and Chewbacca (see 3 above) in their quest to get to Alderaan in order to deliver the Death Star plans to the Alliance. But you already knew that didn’t you.
 Those readers old enough will know that this would sound exactly like the announcer’s introduction “Heeere’s An-dy!” which began the ‘Andy Williams Show’ on US, and later, UK television between 1959 and 1971. The show also regularly featured the Osmond brothers (which is why most people didn’t watch it) and a bear who was always asking for a cookie. No one knows why.
So we finally got around to it. Dear Customer Relations now has a Facebook page. OK, so we need a few fans to be able to get a proper Facebook name but with hundreds of subscribers to the Dear Customer Relations Website, that shouldn't be too difficult should it?
So, follow the link in the sidebar or click on the gorilla and get pressing that 'like' button so we get Dear Customer Relations on Facebook off the ground properly.
Then you can upload links to any funny complaints you have found online and Dear Customer Relations will publish the best of them on the main site. Get busy!
When I started this site, friends who have known me for a very long time suggested that I include the letter below. It was written on a good old-fashioned typewriter as long ago as August 1989 and I recently discovered it in the back of an old filing cabinet. It concerns a Rover car and all Rover cars in those days were heaps of crap so I shouldn't have been too surprised that mine turned out to be the biggest pile of crap of them all. So, as requested, here it is:Customer Relations Austin Rover Commercial Operations P.O.Box 395 Longbridge Birmingham B31 2TB
Dear Customer Relations,
Just imagine it! It is January 1989 and you have just purchased a gleaming ex-demonstration Rover 820E with only 3,000 miles on the clock. Imagine if you will the feelings of pride and patriotism knowing that you have acquired your first luxury British executive car. The fact that on your way home from the showroom you notice that the top of the steering wheel points persistently at the passenger door whilst you're going in a dead straight line down the motorway would do little to dent your enthusiasm.
Naturally, when you arrive home, you would want to show your new purchase to your better half. She however, notices that the interior courtesy lights are still illuminated - it must be on a timer you assume. But no, the light stubbornly continues to glow no matter how many times you slam all the doors and lock the car. As darkness falls and the battery charge dwindles, the light suddenly goes out for no apparent reason whatsoever (albeit temporarily). Never mind, you only have to wait a week to get it into the service department.
Your new car is returned, the courtesy light has been fixed, the steering wheel now points in the direction of travel, and it is time to give the car its first wash. No point in having a shiny new car and having your new pride and joy not looking its best. You lovingly caress the car with a soapy sponge and then give the car a good blast with the hose pipe. [Remember, pressure washers just weren't around in 1989] It is at this point that you notice that your drive is covered in flakes of silver paint. Then you see that the wheel trims are not. An hour earlier, your wheel trims were silver - now they are white. You arrange yet another visit to the service department.
A few weeks elapse and you notice that your lovely new car seems to like its oil. Oh well you think, what's a litre of good oil a week between friends. Nonetheless, the proliferation of unsightly black patches (still with speckles of silver paint) all over your drive forces you back to the service department once again. As ever, they can't possibly do it straight away because they will have to steam clean the engine to find out where the leak is. Never mind, ten days, one ruined drive and one rocker head gasket later, all is well.
All is well that is, until you notice that the interior climate of your executive transport is improving towards summer somewhat faster than the surrounding countryside. You realise that your heater is getting over-enthusiastic and is choosing to completely ignore the instructions you give it using the heater controls. You are sitting there, covered in sweat and thinking about booking your car into the service department once again when things go from bad to worse - or to be more accurate, from hot to hotter.
Smoke has started to issue from the air vents. Lots of smoke.
Now it has long been known that smoking has negative effects on human life span but where car fans are concerned, the effects are rather more immediate. Firstly, it makes it very difficult for the driver to breathe. Secondly, it gets very hot indeed. Never mind, because in an act of remarkable foresight, you recently purchased a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher. It is too late to save the fan, but there is still time to save yourself and, of course, your new car (a decision you will very rapidly come to regret). You quickly pull over and put out the fire.
Having then removed the fuse to prevent further conflagration in the dashboard, you spend the next few days driving around with the windows open to get rid of the acrid smell of the carbonised wiring (because, of course, the service department can't fix the car straight away - after all, yours isn't the only piece of crap they've sold lately). The only problem is that when you try to close the driver's window during a shower of rain, it decides to go on strike. No matter how nicely you speak to it, the bloody thing will only go halfway up. Only when physical violence ensues does the window finally acquiesce. This will not be the end of industrial action on the part of the window however.
Indeed, despite recent Trade Union Legislation, [remember, this is 1989] secondary industrial action soon follows as an unnerving rattle signals that your front off-side wheel is coming out (or coming off) in sympathy. As if that wasn't disconcerting enough, the speedometer and petrol gauge choose to drop to zero at random taking no notice whatsoever of your current speed or the amount of petrol in the tank. And there's more. Lots more. Oil leaks. Not one, but three new oil leaks.
Oh well, a new speedometer clock, a new wheel bearing, a complete disembowelment for oil leaks in the gearbox, oil sump and cylinder head and everything will be as good as new. Your car spends three days in the intensive care unit at the service department.
You get the car back. Bugger! You realise that you forgot to mention to the morons in the service department that the little leather cover which covers the hole in the transmission tunnel at the bottom of the gear stick detaches every time you change from fourth to fifth gear and flaps around like a flag in a gale. To hell with it! Who gives a s##t about the leather cover that covers the hole in the transmission tunnel when every other component of the car is dropping to bits. At least you've got the car back.
But your car hasn't finished messing with your head yet. Oh no, the heater isn't defeated that easily. No matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, it will not switch off. The British summer has finally arrived and your heater won't even go half off. No, it has decided to stick at one hundred per cent full on. Since you collected your car from the intensive care unit, you have driven 600 miles in a mobile bloody sauna!
It is Monday 21st August and you have taken your sauna to back to the service department to be switched off. Will they do it - will they hell! The earliest they can possibly do it is Wednesday. It's not as if you need to lose weight, but for the next couple of days, you aren't going to get a lot of choice. You're going to be spending as much on anti-perspirant as you are on fuel. Seething, you leave the service department and set off to drive the 30 miles home with all the windows fully open.
It can't get any worse can it? Of course it can!
The British summer is fickle at the best of times. However, it is at this point that it decides to have a thunderstorm. Not just any thunderstorm, but a storm of biblical proportions. This isn't normal rain, this is solid water with slots in. Time to close the windows. Yes! You've guessed already haven't you? The driver's window goes on strike again. It won't move - not one millimetre. There you are, cruising along the motorway. Your left side, in the full blast of the heater, is slowly cooking to a perfect medium rare. Your right side is immersed in a torrent of cold water hitting you at 70 miles per hour. The car is slowly filling with water. You sauna is turning into a paddling pool.
You finally arrive home, one side soaked in sweat, the other soaked with rain and you are ready to commit mass murder. There are no motor mechanics around to tear limb from limb so you decide instead to write a couple of letters - this one and another to 'Jim'll Fix It', asking if they'll cover the cost of pushing the bloody thing off a cliff.
Yours in desperation,
For those from outside the UK or too young to remember, 'Jim'll Fix It' was a BBC television programme where people could write in to ask for a dream to come true. Alas, my dream didn't. However, Austin Rover arranged for me to have a very nice courtesy car whilst my car was returned to the service department where it spent an entire month being more or less completely rebuilt. When I got it back, I sold it before something else dropped off.