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The Fictional Complaint Department

I’m teaching a class called “Written Professional Communication” at the University of Pittsburgh. Amongst other things it’s about… well, communicating professionally in writing. Currently we’re working on “responding to complaints”. In order to generate some complaint s to respond to I instructed my students to write a complaint letter as though they lived in the fictional universe of their choosing:

Pretend you live in the world of a fictional story and YOU need to make a complaint to a company for something that happened in that world. It should be something that is reasonably the fault of the company or that you might perceive as being such if you lived in that world. For instance, if you were in the MCU, you might complain Stark Industries about their products or you might complain to the Daily Bugle about their one-sided coverage of Spider-Man, but it doesn’t really make sense to complain to them about Thanos, because it wasn’t their fault and no one would ever reasonably think it was. Similarly, you could complain to Hogwarts about hiring endangering your children by hiring several defense against the Dark Arts teachers who turned out to be evil, but you can’t really blame them for Voldemort returning. Be specific. Be creative. Follow the format you learned about in this week’s reading. Be thorough. 

Then they had to go through each others complaints and respond as a representatives of the company that was complained to. I loved it and asked them for permission to share. Here are some of my favorites and their responses. Oh, but before that, special honorable mention to my student Yuanxi Zhao who wrote a letter to NBC complaining about them killing the character of Dr. Drake Ramoray off of Days of Our Lives. I am very sad that no other students responded there… I imagine it was too high concept. Anyway, below are some of my favorites :

The Suite Life of Zack and Cody

The Tipton Hotel

Boston, Massachusetts

Dear Mr. Tipton,

     I recently traveled to Boston to surprise a long-time friend and was greatly looking forward to my stay at The Tipton Hotel—a tradition of mine, as I believe the hotel’s city views are spectacularly unmatched, and the luxurious lobby lounge provides a sense of ease and comfort, (something I was greatly longing for after hours of flight travel). However, upon check-in, I was surprised to learn that my reservation was lost. I provided the front desk with the initial email I received confirming my stay, but they countered by stating that they had called earlier in the week to inform me of the hotel’s overbooking.

     Confused by this—as I readily respond to phone calls and emails—I feverishly took to my inbox in search of this call. I was able to find the missed call from The Tipton that occurred the Tuesday prior to my scheduled visit, which I acknowledged not answering at the time. However, no voicemail was left and I did not receive any further notification detailing this discrepancy. In effect, because I missed this one-time phone call, I had no way of knowing that my reservation was canceled.

     I would like to note that the hotel manager, Mr. Moseby, was sincerely concerned about my situation and took the time to search the hotel system to find an available room, but by that point, I was at risk for missing my scheduled plans and had to stay elsewhere for the weekend.

     I realize this is a busy time of year, especially for the hotel industry, but I would have appreciated at least a voicemail or some kind of documented outreach letting me know of this change.

     As the Tipton has been my #1 choice of stay in Boston since my family began visiting the city, I hope my letter serves to provide some insight regarding the customer outreach system to prevent others from missing out on what is usually, an unforgettable, five-star experience.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Alyssa Amicone

Contact:

Phone: (1) 123.456.789

Repsonse

Dear Ms. Amicone, 

The Tipton Hotel sincerely apologizes for the inconvenience you experienced with our service. We pride ourselves on providing unmatched hospitality and quality customer service to our guests and we are disheartened to hear about your negative experience. However, we are glad to hear you’ve enjoyed your previous stays with us. Finding an alternate hotel to stay at last-minute is extremely unfortunate and difficult. In the future, we are implementing a new system regarding cancellations where customers will be contacted two times and a voicemail will always be left. We hope this does not discourage you from continuing to stay with us in the future—as such, we’d like to offer you one night free with your next stay. Please let us know if there is anything else we can do to offer our apologies. Again we apologize for the inconvenience, if you have any further concerns please feel free to contact us.

Thank you,

Tipton Hotel

Batman franchise

Dear Wayne Enterprises, 

I am a local citizen and here in Gotham city and I am concerned about the company, Wayne Enterprises, not running efficiently due to the frequent absence of Mr. Wayne. I have lived in Gotham city for 19 years and the car manufacturing industry of Wayne Enteprises has slowly been decreasing its quality. I bought a brand-new car in the early 2000s and it was perfect for me. The seats were conformable, the steering was perfect, and the brakes had the perfect amount of cushion for them. I would use this car all the time. 

But recently the service of the cars has depleted due to the inactivity of Mr. Wayne to be present for his job. I had multiple issues when I decided to buy my new car this year. The car was sent to me two weeks late then the allotted time I was supposed to receive the car.  As well as this when I did receive the car, one of the wheels of the car was broken and I wasn’t able to drive anywhere for a whole week, all due to the fact that I couldn’t reach company for a whole 5 hours.

I know that this may not be the fault of Mr. Wayne, but this company needs to start to \make changes to make up for Mr. Wayne not being present for long periods of time. Please take into consideration the following facts below: 

Allow a back-up executive to run the company when Mr. Wayne isn’t present. Make sure to not derail the company products and stay up to date with company policies and have 24-hour cell services so customers can reach the company in need of help or service. 

Thank you for your considerations, 

Haarika Bezawada

Response

Dear Ms. Bezawada,

We deeply apologize for the issues and inconveniences our services have caused for you. Due to Mr. Wayne’s absence, many customers have noticed similar issues, and we are currently in the process of training other employees to fill his role. We apologize for your issues with shipping and the damage caused to your wheel. We are reaching out to our shipping company now to make sure this does not happen again. Due to the staffing shortage, we are experiencing a low amount of customer service representatives, which has allowed for longer wait times to speak to one. Because of this, I’ve provided you the number of one of our corporate officers, and you may call this number if you have any more issues. 

Also, we will fix all damage that occurred during transport and ship to you free of charge. We at Wayne Enterprises know that this does not make up for the situation that has occurred, but we hope that with implemented changes and the free repair, we will be able to provide the same quality we’ve always promised. 

If there are any more questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the number provided, and someone will be more than happy to answer. 

Wayne Enterprises

Corporate office number: 1-800-1BATMAN

MCU franchise

Dear Sir or Madam in Stark Industries:

My name is Yulong, and I am a resident near your company building. I am writing this letter to let you know that your recent construction project has influenced me for days and I believe many of my neighbors are affected by that.

I understand that your company have planned to build a new parking lot to satisfy your employees’ needs. But I really feel annoying now. Last week, I was having a meeting with my boss and customers who are very important to me. When I was selling my idea to my customers, there was a big sound coming to my microphone. I soon realized that sound came from your construction field.

Additionally, I sometimes work at home, and I usually can hear the big noise from your construction field. I feel pretty annoying, and I have heard my neighbor complaining about that as well.

I think there are some ways to solve that problem. First, you can put your schedule of the project on the website of your company. Therefore, I can manage my time to avoid such situation in last week. Second, you can build a noise-absorbing surface to absorb noise. I know Stark Industries is famous for high tech, so it won’t be hard for you to solve that problem.

Thank you for your time,

Yulong Yue

Response

Dear Mr. Yue,

I would like to start by saying that we hear your concerns, and we truly apologize for any inconvenience or hardship it has caused you. We are working as quickly as possible to minimize the length of time our neighbors will have to endure these noises. Going forward, we plan to develop a schedule that we will send out to all local residents to inform you all of our projected timeline. 

As compensation for your trouble, we plan to offer you a personalized parking spot in our brand-new parking garage as soon as we finish construction. Thank you for your understanding.

Sincerely, 

Olivia Lopez, Haarika Bezawada, Riley Finnegan, Hanzuo Xu, Wyatt Sechrist
Stark Industries

SpongeBob Squarepants

Eugene H. Krabs
The Krusty Krab
831 Bottom Feeder Lane, Bikini Bottom

Dear Mr. Eugene Krabs,

My family, friends, and I have enjoyed food and drinks from The Krusty Krab for many years now, so we were extremely excited to find out about your new Krusty Krab Pizza delivery service. We were looking forward to trying the pizza, being that we all crave your Krabby Patty at least once a week. We normally go to your restaurant to eat, however, one day after a long day of boating school with Mrs. Puff, my friends and I decided to get a Krusty Krab Pizza delivered with four diet Dr. Kelps. When your one employee arrived, he was twenty minutes late with not only a cold pizza and a rude attitude, but he also forgot all our drinks. We were all greatly disappointed and have a few potential suggestions to better your service, so you can make a better impression for newer customers.

The service was not efficient due to your restaurant being understaffed. If you want to begin a delivery service, you should hire a delivery employee or two to ensure you always have staff members at the restaurant. This delivery employee should be patient and accommodating to the customers and their needs because happy customers give more tips. This employee should also have a boating license, so delivery is faster than if someone were to walk to each delivery location. This efficiency will lessen the chances of the food being cold when it arrives at the customer’s door. I also think you should begin delivering all your food, not just pizza, because it will increase your profit and will accommodate to customers who do not like pizza.

I hope you consider all our suggestions! We do not want the Chum Bucket to be the best restaurant in Bikini Bottom because of a couple flaws in your delivery service. We all know their food is subpar compared to your Krabby Patty Secret Formula.  

Thank You

Lauren Starr

Response

Dear Ms. Starr,

Let me begin by apologizing for the poor delivery service you experienced. We always strive to provide the best experience possible to our customers and I am greatly disappointed in the service you received.

As you’ve already noticed, we are currently suffering from staffing shortages and are in the process of seeking new employees to improve the experience of our customers for both in-house and delivery. However, that does not change that the service you received was unacceptable and as such I would like to offer you a full refund on your order.

Your idea to deliver our entire menu rather than just pizza is also one that we appreciate – we are always looking for firsthand customer accounts to improve our business. As such, for this insight you’ve provided us, I would also like to offer you a 25% off coupon for your next meal. I apologize again for the inconvenience and I would encourage you to please reach out again if you have any more complications in ordering from the Krusty Krab – we hope to continue serving you for years to come!

Thank you,

Mr. Krabs

The Office

Dear Mr. Wallace, 

I have been purchasing my office products from Dunder Mifflin Paper Company for almost 8 years now. I purchase your paper products on an extremely regular basis for my business, so I interact with a sales associate from the Scranton branch very frequently. They are incredibly helpful in the order placement process, but at times, it can be incredibly difficult to get in contact with someone in order to place an order. 

I am writing to you, as Chief Financial Officer of Dunder Mifflin, to inform you of a recent experience I had trying to place a paper product order. Two days ago, I called the Scranton branch in hopes of getting in touch with the sales representative, Jim Halpert, who is typically the individual I speak with to place my order. I called this office repeatedly and left multiple messages, but I never received a response. The voicemail continued to respond with the fact that the office was closed due to “Michael Scott’s Dunder Mifflin Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Pro-Am Fun Run Race for the Cure.” While I am sure this was for a great cause (although I do not completely understand the cause), I felt that I was ignored as a loyal customer to this company because I desperately needed that order. Because of this, I was considering placing an order elsewhere, like Staples or Office Depot. 

I do realize that it is important for companies to be involved in the community and show support for issues you may care about, but closing an office for a day with no forewarning or announcement to your customers seems slightly inconsiderate. There are some ways to avoid these issues in the future. First, the office could send out a memo to all of their regular accounts ahead of time informing them of an upcoming office closure. This would give them the opportunity to place an order they might need before it is too late. Another option is to develop a system for placing orders online in order for customers to be able to get their products even if they are unable to directly contact a sales representative. I truly love your company’s products as well as your employees, and I hope to be able to count on you in the future. 

Thank you,

Olivia Lopez

Response

Dear Ms. Lopez,

On behalf of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, I’d like to apologize for any inconvenience our Scranton office closure caused to your business operations. Our Scranton branch often acts independently from our corporate office and other branches, and we were unaware such an event was planned. We will be speaking with Mr. Scott regarding his decision to close the office and not inform his clientele ahead of time.

In light of this inconvenience, I’d like to offer you a 5% off discount on your next bulk order of paper products with Dunder Mifflin. I’d also be happy to personally oversee the transfer of your account to the Stamford, CT Dunder Mifflin branch and another sales representative located there, if you would like. 

My sincerest apologies again for this situation – we appreciate your business and hope to maintain a pleasant working relationship with you in the future.

David Wallace

Phantom of the Opera

December 15, 1881

Dear Messieurs Firmin and André,

As an avid patron of the Paris Opéra since the tenure of previous director Monsieur Lefèvre, I am writing to discuss my disappointment in the recent direction that the Paris Opéra has taken.

Over the past decade, my husband and I have only missed a handful of your excellent productions- going to the opera is our favorite pastime. This year, as he has done for the past five, my husband purchased me season tickets for my birthday. The production we were most anticipating was the premiere of Il Muto, as took place last Friday, December 8. Unfortunately, that evening’s entertainments did not meet what we have come to consider to be the excellent standards of the Opéra.

The switch in the casting of the Countess from La Carlotta to Christine Daaé was completely unadvertised, and La Carlotta’s sudden inability to sing less than halfway into her first aria sorely disrupted our experience as audience members. Yes, Christine Daaé was a more than adequate replacement after her impressive showing in Hannibal. However, even her performance was interrupted due to what was, unbelievably, only the second worst development of the night: the apparition of a hanged stagehand’s corpse during the ballet interlude. I, along with many other audience members, experienced nervous attacks, and the ladies sitting to my right suffered from fainting spells for the rest of the evening. Such a horrible event, even if it truly were an accident, is completely unprofessional, especially for such a historic establishment as your Opéra.

Even so, my husband and I decided to stay for the rest of the performance, in the hopes that it would regain the level of sophistication and artistry that every other Paris Opéra production has achieved. Any such developments were completely negated by the terrifying collapse of the chandelier during curtain call. My husband’s quick thinking and reflexes are likely the only reasons that we escaped with our lives from our seats directly below it. We are both still in shock and disbelief.

I am saddened to see the Paris Opéra in such a state, and sincerely hope that Il Muto is not indicative of your new artistic or professional standards. My husband and I would deeply appreciate a response letting us know how the Paris Opéra will ensure that such a tragedy never happens again, as well as a refund of our tickets for Il Muto. While I would be unhappy to do so, I may have to ask my husband to purchase a new birthday gift for me from now on.

Sincerely,

Madame Jordan McCann

Response

Dear Madame Jordan McCann,

My most sincere apologies to you and your husband that you had such an experience at the Paris Opera. Thank you so much for your many years of attending the Opera. We are honored that you and your husband have chosen the Paris Opera for your birthday celebrations. We are very aware of what happened that evening and we are conducting an investigation with the local authorities to find out what exactly happened that night. 

Security has now been doubled since that night and we have made sure to hire the most talented authorities to ensure the safety of the audience and our actors. We greatly appreciate your feedback about our current display of actors and actresses and we would like to assure you that the Paris Opera tries its absolute best to hire the most qualified cast based on the audition process.  

We are working on restoring and updating our facilities so that nothing of this matter ever occurs again. We will be reinforcing our chandeliers effective immediately to make sure that you and your husband never have to experience something like this again. 

Due to the trouble that this situation has caused you, we would like to offer premiere season tickets for next three years to help you continue to enjoy your visits to the Paris Opera. Once again, we apologize for the disturbing events of Friday night and hope that we will not lose your patronage. 

Regards,

Messieurs Firmin and Andre

Harry Potter franchise

To Mr. Albus Dumbledore,

Allow me to preface this letter by saying I greatly enjoy attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and have become a better witch than I ever could have hoped to be in my time here. I have learned so much about the wizarding world, magic, and myself during my time here. However, I believe that there is one thing that could make this fine institution an even better one: a discussion with Severus Snape.

Since I first set foot on the grounds of Hogwarts, the words I have heard about Professor Snape have only been tinged with fear and contempt. He is notorious among the witches and wizards for being ruthless with grade evaluation, brutal with house points, and caustic when speaking to students. Most recently, I witnessed him reduce Hermione Granger, the smartest witch in my year, to tears due to a remark on her physical appearance. I cannot help but believe that Professor Snape should not be allowed to conduct himself in such a manner. 

It is my genuine hope that you will consider discussing Professor Snape’s approach to teaching with him and informing him of how his remarks and behaviors are harmful and unnecessary. A good professor should not have to inspire terror in their pupils to teach them how to make potions.

Best,

Nicole Arnold 

Response

Hello Ms. Arnold,

Thank you very much for your words and critiques of Hogwarts. While it was great to hear that you enjoyed your time at the Wizarding School, it is with great grief to hear your problems with Professor Snape. We, the staff at Hogwarts, want to to address this problem by talking to Serberous about his attitude and conduct towards the students of the school. From this discussion, we may need to move Professor Snape to another department.

In regards to your comments about what happened to Ms. Granger, we will most certainly meet with her to alleviate any lingering problems she may have.

Thank you for reaching out, if you have any more comments or concerns please do not hesitate to speak up!

Sincerely,

Mr. Albus Dumbledore

Monsters Inc.

Henry J. Waternoose III
Monsters Inc.
324 Scare Rd, Monstropolis

Dear Mr. Waternoose,

It was the night of March 20th, when I was sound asleep and I could hear a creek in my sister’s door only for her to be woken up to not only more than a couple screams, but to be kidnapped by your employee Randall Boggs. I love your corporation and what you do at Monsters Inc., but your entire company’s ethics is based on scaring little children not kidnapping them. I regret to inform you that my family I will be considering not contributing to help fill your scream quota.

On another note, your employee Sulley has been nothing but amazing to my sister, but if Mr. Boggs does anything of this stature again I will be sure to tell all of my daughter’s preschool friends not to scream when your monsters attempt to scare us. A solution that could be implemented is holding courses to teach proper scaring manners along with a strict “no kidnapping little kids policy.” I think I speak for all two-year-olds when I say they want to stay in their beds, not in Randall’s hands.

Thank you for your time,

ilan gen

from the human world

Response

Dear Mr. Gen,

I would like to first of all sincerely apologize on behalf of Randall Boggs and Monsters Incorporated. Mr. Boggs’s behavior on the night of the 20th was completely out of line and disobeys our company’s monster contract. Each monster is required to take a six month training course, is subjected to background checks, and is put on a six month probationary period before officially becoming a Scarer. I assure you that kidnapping is strictly prohibited at Monsters Inc. and Scarers are constantly reminded of this rule. Effective immediately, Mr. Randall Boggs has been laid off until another background check on him has been run. Upon return, Mr. Boggs will be put on a year long probationary period and his kidnapping will be added to his company record. We take this issue very seriously.

We greatly appreciate your warm reviews about Mr. Sullivan. Sully has been a loyal employee to Monsters Inc. and we always appreciate his ethical scaring. Scaring is a co-dependent relationship with the Human and Monster world, so receiving reviews like this are exactly what our company needs to keep our clients happy and Monstropolis running. I will personally make sure Sully becomes your family’s assigned monster.

If there are any other ways in which we can alleviate the damage Mr. Boggs has caused to your family, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Sincerely,

Henry Waternoose III

Friends

January 13, 1999
Gunther
Manager
Central Perk 
459 Grove St.
New York, NY 10001

Dear Gunther,

I am writing this letter to issue a formal complaint about my recent negative experiences at your coffeehouse. The issues I will detail have occurred across all of my visits to Central Perk:

To my knowledge, I believe the seating provided at the coffeehouse is meant for all your patrons to enjoy. But, I’ve noticed a group of six friends, including your waitress Rachel Green, frequently monopolizing the orange couch and the seating nearby it. I don’t think this is fair to your other customers who might wish to visit with a larger party, or who simply want to use the couch and the seating nearby it as well. These six people also tend to be very loud when they are visiting Central Perk. They are usually the loudest in the coffee shop, and I find it hard to engage in my own conversations or just read while they are there. It’s annoying to have to hear everything these people are talking about, which is usually about their dating lives. I suggest you ask them to share the seating space and to speak quieter from now on.

I also have other issues with your waitress Rachel Green. She always takes too long to come over and take orders and to bring orders out to the table, if she remembers to do the latter at all. If Rachel does remember to bring out the orders it is usually wrong. One time I ordered some plain chai tea with a muffin and received an americano with a croissant instead. On several occasions I have seen her spill what she is serving, sometimes even on some of your customers. Further, part of the reason Rachel is so slow with orders is that I see her talking to her friends that always take over the orange couch and nearby seats. Not only does she prioritize her friends’ orders, but also she will stop what she is doing to talk to them. But my biggest grievance is that she will even bill the orders incorrectly on top of everything. I propose you retrain Rachel until she is prepared for waitressing.

My last complaints are regarding the musician you hire to play in Central Perk and one of your frequent patrons. The musician, named Phoebe Buffay, plays the guitar and sings very poorly. Additionally, she often plays the song ‘Smelly Cat’ over and over again. It is tiresome to have to hear her terrible and repetitive performance whenever I visit. One of your frequent patrons, known as Joey Tribbiani, regularly hits on the women who visit your coffee shop. He does not seem to have bad intentions, but it makes me uncomfortable witnessing how often he makes advances on women. I noticed that both of these people are friends of Rachel Green, so I hope you are not exhibiting any bias towards her by ignoring these blatant issues. I request that you have another musician perform and ask Joey to cease and desist his behavior.

I look forward to hearing from you about the resolution of this matter. If none of these issues I detailed are addressed you will lose my patronage, and I will dissuade the people I know from visiting Central Perk. Please contact me by email at (xxx@pitt.edu).

Sincerely,

Ola Nwadiuko

Response

Dear Ola Nwadiuko,

I am very sorry to hear that you have had negative experiences at Central Perk. Unfortunately, these patrons are regulars who provide the shop with our greatest revenue. I will speak to them about the monopolization of the orange couch and make an effort to train the waitress, but beyond that, I will not prevent my best customers from enjoying the coffee shop. As for Ms. Buffay’s musical stylings, they are my favorite. 

Best wishes,

Gunther 

om

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I'm teaching a class called "Written Professional Communication" at the University of Pittsburgh. Amongst other things it's about... well, communicating professionally in writing. Currently we're working on "responding to complaints". In order to generate some complaint s to respond to I instructed my students to write a complaint letter as though they lived in the fictional universe of their choosing: