‘Love your spunk, Grannymar. You do us (older ladies) proud!’
I digress for a moment to draw your attention to an article from ABC News Creative Consumer: How to Protect Your New Gifts posted on Christmas Eve. If you are not sure of your rights then take a moment to read it.
Now back to Taking on the Big Boys. I have two tales to tell and they are both connected with this time of year. I will tell one now and save the other for tomorrow.
Jack, my late husband retired from work in 1985. He spent most of his working life as a sales rep for a well known American food company. Part of a small team here in Northern Ireland, his territory crossed the religious divide. ‘Krafty’ as he was known to some customers, was well liked wherever he went and he could sell Oil to Arabs or Ice to Eskimos as if it was the ‘newest must have’ or latest invention! His sales figures were legendary in the company.
After retirement he received, as I still do, a Christmas card signed by the Vice President and Area Director of the company. About 10 days before the holiday a parcel would arrive addressed to my husband, it contained a small food hamper suitable for one person. Items included a small bar of fruitcake (un-iced), and a single portion sized Christmas pudding, packet of three cheese biscuits, tiny tins of ham, tongue, pâté, fruit cocktail & custard. The only normal sized items were box of Fruit Jellies, a stick of Cracker Barrel Cheese and a tub of Vitalite.
Year one everything was fine and edible.
Things changed over the next couple of years and recognisable brand names were replaced by ones unheard of. Elly was a young school girl and was fascinated by the idea of the miniature pudding. It required TWO hours steaming……now that I objected to. After about four years I got cross. Jack was out to lunch with some friends one day and not being a person fond of waste I decided to make a sandwich and use the tin of ham. I opened the tin and was unable to slice the meat; it was as tough as shoe leather. The tongue was no better and the cake slab went to crumbs when it saw the knife. It was only possible to eat it with a spoon, and it tasted like sawdust.
That night when Dinner was over and bedtime story told, I sat to the table with note paper and a pen.
“What are you doing Darling?” asked Jack.
“I am writing to complain about the quality of the food hamper!” I replied.
“You can’t do that, Pet.” He said. “It was a gift.”
“Oh! But I can!” I said. “Don’t worry I will let you read the letter before I post it!”
Jack went back to his book and I concentrated on my composition. I addressed the letter to the Vice President and Area Director, by Name. Well why not he was the person who signed the Christmas card a couple of weeks earlier!
I began by thanking the kind gentleman for the card and gift of a food hamper to my husband each year since he retired, saying how nice it was to still be remembered as part of the Company family. I reminded him of all his fine words over the years about my husband’s impressive sales figures, and of the fact that all retirees were not living alone. The ‘Hamper for One’ was an insult to the effort to produce those sales figures, and to the wives who washed the shirts, helped and supported the men (sorry girls) working and travelling at times in very difficult situations, particularly in Northern Ireland.
Then I put the ball in his court. I said people were reluctant to complain about a gift particularly at Christmastime. I told him that we did not live on Caviar and fillet steak everyday, but I did manage to produce nutritious edible and tasty meals on a daily basis. I went on to describe the hamper contents as above. I mentioned that the gift we received was perhaps not the gift the company was paying for, but that if it was, then perhaps it was time for the Company to consider sending the money directly to Charity. I finished by wishing him personally and all the staff, good wishes and successful sales figures for the year ahead.
“Right love” I said handing the letter to Jack.
“You are really going to send that?” said Jack.
“Why not, it is the truth?” I said.
“Go ahead then, but you will never hear from them!” Jack said.
I addressed, sealed and stamped the letter before walking down to the local post box with it.
About a month later a letter addressed to me with the company logo popped through the door. It was an apology from said VP for the delay in replying to my letter. He had been away from the office for several weeks and was only beginning to deal with correspondence. He thanked me for taking the time to write and he was very interested in what I had to say. He promised to look into the situation and get back to me.
Well he did get back to me and as a result of my letter, changes were made. All the company pensioners received Food Gift Vouchers every year since. They are a much better idea as they can be used in many Food Retailers and are valid until the end of April.
Now that is enough for today. I have a smelly story for Part 2