Customer Service…and fun

This is the second in absentia blog I’m posting.  Our regularly scheduled blogs should recommence tomorrow.

But I had to take a moment to show everyone that I’ve been a smartass a lot longer than just the past month.  It goes back years.

I used to work for Columbia House Canada back in the day.  You know…the 11 CDs for a dollar deals you got in the mail all the time?  So I was initially put in the role of answering the letters we’d receive from our customers.  Yes, real, Honest to God paper mail.  Then they promoted me to supervisor.  So that meant I got the “escalations” or the ones that were a little outside the norm of the everyday CSR (Customer Service Rep).  I never really minded.  Let’s just say I like a challenge and leave it at that.

So, to my point, I love to have fun with whatever I’m doing.  When someone else comes along to help make it fun, I appreciate that and respond in kind.  So, when one of my reps came up to me, paper thrust out in front of him, saying, “How the hell am I supposed to answer this?”  I knew I had a challenge.  When I read it, I knew it was going to be fun.

So, here’s the letter we received.

June 5, 1998

ATTN: Pam Marshall – Membership Director

Columbia House

PO Box 63003 STN BRM B

Toronto, ON

M7Y 3B3

Dear music membership marketers,

Words cannot describe my elation at receiving your personal congratulations that I was selected to be a member of your prestigious organization. I was absolutely thrilled at the sight of my name on my very own blue and white membership card. And when I realized the deal that you were offering, I just about went berserk! “Where do I sign up?”, I screamed as I ripped into your package of reading materials and unfolded the stamps showing album covers from your fine selection of music. If I had been a dog, this would have been my day! However, after poring over your personal invitation three times, my stomach knotted up really tight, and a fear grabbed at my heart that never seemed to let go. Your club seems to cater only to people with CD players!

This would not be a normal obstacle to most of your clients, but being a devout Seventh Day Mormon (a conglomerate sect), I am not allowed to entertain myself with the more modern conveniences of today. Therein lies my problem. I own numerous record players and eight-track players, and so the excitement of updating my record collection sent me soaring. But lo and behold, newfangled shiny discs prevail over older, vinyl ones. Can you help me? Do any of your selections come on LP or 45? Can you possibly have an 8-track or two in your new releases?

Or, can you please write back with some reasons for purchasing a CD player and signing up with your club right away? My business (polyester suit renewals) provides me with enough income to buy hundreds of compact disc players, and Heaven knows your personal letter is tempting enough to disregard my religion and join your worldly ranks. Please respond as soon as you can, and if possible, could you send me a Columbia House t-shirt (XL)? I’d be most grateful!

With two turntables and a microphone,

Dairn M Peters

How the hell am I supposed to answer this indeed…  And here’s my response.

June 22, 1998

Re: CDs versus LPs/8-Tracks

Dear Dairn;

Thank you for your letter of June 5, 1998.

We appreciate and rejoice in your elation due to the arrival of our offer of application and we do also share in your pain and discomfort at the lack of selections in 8-track and/or vinyl format. Unfortunately, due to the “rule of majority”, demand for these forms of musical preservation have unfortunately gone the way of the dodo or (in more recent memory) the fine Pacer automobile. Take heart though, as the VW Beetle seems to have made a resurgence!

Though I am not familiar with the Seventh Day Mormon religion, I am sure if they do permit the prevailing technology of the Seventies to be utilized for your personal gratification and edification, surely you might be able to sway the decision makers of this particular religious sect. Perhaps including the following arguments may help to soften the impact of newer technology:

Unlike LPs, 45s and 8-Tracks, CDs don’t produce music through the physical touching of the components, but through an incredible “laser” technology. (If you have seen “Star Trek” it is similar to their fictional “phasers” but with much less destructive force. A technology used for the greater good of man, not evil. Does your religion permit the viewing of television?)

Also, CDs carry all the music on only one side of the shiny disc, so there is no more annoying “ka-CHUNK” of an 8-Track changing channels, or the constant 20 minute trip to the turntable to lift the LP, flip it 180 degrees, clean the dust motes and continue the playing of the second side.

As well, with our wonderful CDs, you can forever kiss goodbye those aggravating hisses, pops and squeaks of a record with too much dust. CDs are also much more resistant to warping, so it’s much safer to transport them in your vehicle of choice (a good feature for those remaining AMC Pacer owners – the sheer window space of this car is enough to drive one mad due to the unencumbered view of the outside world rushing past!).

As a further enticement to your religious elders (if I may be so bold), you may wish to offer them some sort of bargain on some of your fine polyester garments. I am sure you would be safe in assuming the loss would be quickly offset by the incredible bargains offered through our Music Club. I am sorry we cannot send the requested Columbia House T-shirt, though you do seem to be in the advantageous position of possibly designing something along that line yourself out of polyester!

In closing, I hope this missive answers the many questions you seem to need education on. I will take the liberty of enclosing another application in hopes that you may wax eloquent enough to bring the power and pleasures of the 90’s to all the Seventh Day Mormons in Burnaby, nay, the world!

Musically (and technologically) yours,

Tobin Elliott

Supervisor, Customer Service

Ya gotta have fun with it sometimes.  Had my boss at the time seen this, he likely would have fired my ass, but enh, what the heck.  This was one of those times I just had to go with it.  It was that frustrated writer coming out in me, clearly.

Anyway, my point is, have fun with whatever you do…otherwise, what’s the point of doing it?  My reward?  The letter writer stating, “This is easily the best response I’ve ever received.”

And thanks to Dairn over at D Mail.  The blog isn’t active anymore, but it’s still a hoot.


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