Chapter 45: Customer Relations
To: The Manager
34 High Street
I tried to call on you this evening, only to find your premises closed at five minutes before the usual time, so I returned home to write this letter, which I shall deliver to you personally in a few minutes.
Last Saturday, I bought one of your Flatline 40 machines and I must say it is giving me a lot of trouble. As far as I can make out, the main difficulty is with the base unit, housing the thingummy at the left-hand side. This connects, or is supposed to connect, with the whatsit, immediately to its right. I don’t know whether both parts are faulty, or whether the first is failing to activate the second. Anyway, this is most unsatisfactory. That fact that I bought the item with a 25% price reduction does nothing to comfort me.
I have tried repeatedly to contact what you call, somewhat amusingly in my view, your 24-hour hotline, but it appears to be as cold as a creditor’s heart. On three occasions I was asked to wait for attention, which I did for fifteen minutes each time. When I made a final attempt to get through, there was no reply at all.
As this contraption fails to perform in the way it should, I insist on a refund of the £150 I paid. I suspect you might try to fob me off with a verbal message, so to forestall this I would like you to call at my home – 12, The Avenue – today, bring the money (cash, please) and take the machine away.
Arthur Sprocket (Mr)
To: Arthur Sprocket
12 The Avenue
Dear Arthur Sprocket (Mr) – nice to see that you’re abreast of things, genderwise
I would like to say thank you for your letter, but am reluctant do so because I can hardly be expected to express pleasure when receiving a complaint – they’re quite tiresome, you know. When I finish writing this, I’ll bring it to your home and put it in the letterbox. I shan’t be able to stop for a chat, as I shall be on my way to a posh dinner. Honestly, the things I do for this business.
Your whining does not surprise me, as the Flatline 40 was never one of the best products of its kind. The earlier models in the same range, F-10, F-20 and F-30 were all verging on passable quality, as is the F-50, which replaced the 40.
It was perceptive of you to note that the problem lies with the two parts you correctly identified as the thingummy and the whatsit. The latter is dependent on the former, but as it happens, both are defective. The first three Flatlines were not fitted with these two parts, so they did not give us any trouble of the kind you mention, though Heaven knows we had numerous other headaches with them.
The F-10, F-20 and F-30 had the thingummy’s precursor, a German part, known in its country of origin as the Dingsbums, while in the F-50, the functions of both thingummy and whatsit are performed by a single device, the doodah, usually referred to in the US as the doodad or doohickey, among other names. Even this will soon be superseded when the F-50 is improved by the incorporation of two new gadgets, the gizmo and the whatyamacallit.