I don't know how to tell you this, but I've fallen out of love with you..."
Anyone who has ever received a 'Dear John' letter can attest to the power of the written word. No sword, no knife, nothing can cut as quickly and as deeply as the single stroke of a pen. No scalpel could enter the chest cavity and deftly slice away the beating heart as cleanly as the words; "I don't love you any longer".
Conversely, great joy can be felt by reading, "We are pleased to inform you", "Congratulations, you have been..." or a single word, such as 'Diploma', or the phrase, "Paid in full".
However, we are a society prone to rise to arms over issues that affect us negatively. We are quick to take pen in hand and complain loud and long to express our displeasure. Behold the power of the consumer, for we are strong.
Companies exist because we support them with our business. They need to keep us happy, and the results that may be achieved by simply speaking your peace can be amazing.
You can sit and grumble and complain to Uncle Rufus and stomp and whine when something isn't working. Where does it get you? Maybe Uncle Rufus tires of listening and doesn't come over on Sunday afternoons as often anymore, but you still have your problem.
Recently I had reached the limits of my patience with a company. During the course of our business relationship there had been numerous issues that I had to bring to their attention. It became one of those things where one fix led to another problem. I absolutely believe in giving benefit of the doubt, but I doubted that they were even attempting to benefit me at this point.
And so, armed with the power of the net, I found their parent company, wrote them an e-mail laying out the entire scenario from start to finish, and sent my complaint coursing through the millions of miles of cyberspace.
It was only several days later when the president of the local company called me. "Mrs. Sterling", he began, "I have in my hand a letter from you. In all my years with this company, I have never heard such horrible things said about us. The worst part is, they are all true".
The bottom line is that again, only several days later, this company spent about $3500.00 making sure I was satisfied.
I believe fair is fair, and when I realized the level of his commitment to me as a customer was as it should be, I again sat at my computer and wrote the parent company. However, this time I made them aware of the great strides that were taken not only to satisfy me, but also to see that no other customer had to endure my plight.
I spoke, someone listened and the power of the consumer's pen was heard 'round the world.
And, speak we should, whether it be to suggest, to complain, or even better, to praise. You cannot expect change if you keep your thoughts to yourself. You cannot expect a person to know how you feel if you remain silent.
Success may not always be yours, but the key is to inform. Be factual, lay the situation out exactly, do not be forceful and threatening, but be firm. Be honest and straightforward without allowing emotion to enter the picture. Explain exactly how you feel, what the problem is, what you expect, and what you require them to do for your satisfaction. Stand behind your beliefs and support them with any other outside information. Don't back down; go as high as you need to go.
When all is said and done, no matter the outcome, follow up with another letter. Have the last word, be it good or bad. Fair is fair.
Businesses need us, they don't always want to admit it, but they do. Whether it be the company that canned our peas or sold us a car, they will go to great lengths to keep us happy. Never has the power of the pen been so great as in this age of Internet communications. We can reach more people in less time and harness the power of the net to meet our eventual goals. Find your urls and go forth and font! Be bold, underline and stress your points!
Now if only poor John could fare as well, as he finishes reading his letter..."John, I swear, this has nothing to do with my husband, or your terminal illness. I will remember you fondly. Jane"