Posts Tagged ‘ emails to companies ’

My email to Hoo haa Bar

Earlier this month, two young women tried to get into a venue on Melbourne’s Chapel Street by the name of Hoo haa Bar. They happened to be partners. They happened to be holding hands.

The women say that they were not permitted entry, and suspect their sexual orientation had more than a little something to do with it. Several witnesses support their claim.

Of course, it’s all “alleged” at this stage.

What’s not alleged is Hoo haa Bar’s Facebook-page response to the ensuing furore. It’s real and you can read it here.

I get confused, flustered, but ultimately excited when private enterprises show a willingness to respond to questions and criticism. And I feel like I have cola-activated Wizz Fizz in my underpantal region when they choose to play the woe-is-us victim.

This, combined with the fact that I recently found myself a  patron at this particular establishment, meant that the following email flowed as easily as hypocritical drivel out of Kyle Sandilands’ mouth:

Dear Hoo haa Management Team,

I’m writing to seek clarification on an incident that took place at your establishment earlier this year. In hindsight, and in light of recent events, I now consider the event in question to be enormously distressing.

On Saturday the 26th of May, I travelled to Prahran to attend the birthday party of a friend at Hoo haa Bar.

I was let in.

This is causing me great consternation and I desperately need to know why it took place.

The obvious answer, of course, is that I am now one of Melbourne’s A-list celebrities and should be granted access to every single establishment in the city. But this doesn’t really cut it, when you consider that I have earned my reputation as a bloggospherical deity by working almost exclusively as a semi-anonymous cyber vigilante. Despite the fact that most Australians know and adore me, very few know what I actually look like.

And what I look like is really at the crux of this matter.

Recently, it’s alleged, your door staff denied entry to two women on a Saturday night at around about 9pm. Their names are Kay Girardi and Ari Missikos. Now, the old saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder generally holds true, but let’s be honest here: unless the Herald Sun has gone into a PhotoShopping frenzy and given Kay and Ari’s faces a complete digital reconstruction (and we are talking about a News Limited publication here, so I concede that anything’s possible), these were not unattractive people you told to bugger off.

And even if you wanted to mount a case that they had been given a couple of lashings with the proverbial ugly stick, everything is relative. Relatively speaking, these two women are smoulderingly, wickedly, incomprehensibly sexy hotties. Relative to what or to whom, you ask?

Relative to me.

While I may be the world’s most promising and precocious literary talent, this doesn’t change the fact that I am as ugly as sin. And I’m not talking about one of the spurious Catholic ones like “original sin” or one of the piss-weak Deadly ones like sloth or gluttony; I’m talking about the absolute shockers like wrath, Avada Kedavra and, by far the worst of all, vanity. (I absolutely abhor arrogance and conceit, and as the owner of a Chapel Street night club, you undoubtedly do too.)

I’m so unattractive, my wife employs a Perseus-style mirror-plated shield when conversing with me. I’m so unattractive, I’m reluctant to have children because I fear that if my son or daughter got my face genes, I’d be dragged to The Hague and charged with crimes against humanity. I’m so unattractive, when I sent an email to Ben Polis earlier this year implying that he looked like “a rodent with mange…a loathsome mouse-dog… a repellent maggot… a rosy-faced cretin… a small, podgy dipshit and an angry little gerbil [resembling] Jake King… a dead carp’s slowly disintegrating prolapsed anus and an unctuous, ulcerous semi-human” I feared that he would respond with “I know you are, but what am I?” and his case would be water-tight.

(Speaking of emails to famous people, last year I sent an email to the well-known human/dinosaur hybrid Margaret Court (she still hasn’t responded – RUDE!) and told her that a boy at school once described me as looking like a pig with Down’s syndrome. His jibe, though cruel, was excruciatingly accurate.)

What I’m getting at is that if you want to argue that the two women you didn’t allow into your alcohol-serving-sauna-with-very-loud-music are not aesthetically pleasing enough, you have to take into consideration me. Not as an arbitrary point of reference, but because just a few Saturday nights before you told them they weren’t what you were looking for, you told me I was!

Now maybe you’ll argue semantics: it wasn’t so much what they looked like as their look. Again, I’m the hurdle that will make that argument’s finishing line very hard for you to get to.

To be fair, I don’t know what Kay and Ari were wearing on the night in question. But you do. So perhaps you can tell me: was it a pair of off-white cargo pants purchased in the late 1990s, a blue and red Melbourne Football Club tie with an old-school AFL logo on it, an ill-fitting white Rivers shirt with uneven stripes or a beanie of a similar vintage? Did they at any point produce a multi-coloured, multi-textured wallet with a small cowrie shell embedded in it?

The reason I ask is that’s what I was wearing on that chilly, and dare-I-say-it, soon-to-be-infamous May night.

Plus, my hair was as shit as ever and my beard was poorly trimmed, to the point where if you poured three litres of liquid on to the crotch of my trousers and squinted, you could easily have mistaken me for Biff Pelican.

Apparently, your hired muscle told Ari and Kay that they might consider coming back on a Wednesday night when the venue was “more liberal” about who it gave the thumbs-up to. In my experience, however, your Saturday night at 9.00pm policy is more liberal than a hippies-only Swedish key party at a vibrator factory incorporating a swimming pool filled with champagne jelly and Enya playing in the background.

So what’s going on here? Why didn’t you tell me to go back to Thornbury and put on some more appropriate clothes? Why didn’t you tell me to come back another night, even though I was there for a friend’s birthday? Why didn’t you look me up and down, smirk and tell me with undisguised disdain “Not tonight, buddy”? Why did you let me in?

WHY?

WHAT DID I DO RIGHT?

WHY?

Thanking you in advance for your considered response and wishing you all the very best in your (sensible, in my opinion) public campaign to have consumers consider the potential impact of their actions upon innocent businesses before launching their vicious, inane and destructive personal opinions and experiences out into the social media universe,

Jonathan Rivett

I’m looking forward to Hoo haa’s response even more than I’m looking forward to The Shire on Channel 10.

Haught fact of the day:

Enya’s most famous song isn’t named ‘Sail Away’; it is in fact called ‘Orinoco Flow’.

Other emails I’ve sent:

My email to Weis (ice creams)

The recent Commonwealth Bank ad featuring Toni Collette got me thinking about celebrity endorsement.

Before celebrities became “brands” and were capable of lending their “brand cache” to other “brands”, what happened?

Has the celebrity/company negotiation always gone like this:

Company: Want to promote our product?

Celebrity: I’m not sure. I don’t really wear hats.

Company: We’re a car manufacturer.

Celebrity: I see.

Company: So…

Celebrity: I’m not really interested.

Company: Here’s seven hundred and ninety-five thousand dollars.

Celebrity: I love your cars. Want me to get nude?

Or was there once a golden age where celebrities approached companies and said “Hey, I quite like your shoes. I’ll do an ad for two bob and a can of Tarax sarsaparilla“?

If I were to become a celebrity (and I don’t know why I just used the subjunctive mood, because I already am one) and went back in time to this yet-to-be-confirmed golden age, my first port of call would almost certainly be the Weis ice cream company. I would endorse them feverishly, sleeping only three hours a day (at the very most), and probably dying of exhaustion in my mid 40s (a happy man).

I set down some of the reasons why in an email I just sent to Weis today:

Image

Dear Weis,

Just a quick note to say your raspberries and vanilla bean ice cream bars are in the top ten things ever invented by anyone in the history of civilisation.

In fact, all your products are bloody delicious and the fact you remain an Australian-owned company swells my chest with the kind of green and gold pride that makes me want to look in a mirror and tell myself “Stop puffing out your chest – you look like a wanker and you’re bringing attention to yourself”.

Your ice creams are better than Pat Rafter and Geoffrey Rush, making them the best things to come out of Queensland in the state’s 150-year history.

Your ice creams are better than steam trains.

Your ice creams are better than the very last illustration in the book Possum Magic where an echidna is looking slightly grumpy because it has a magic star stuck in its quills.

Your ice creams are better than the twist at the end of The Usual Suspects.

Your ice creams are better than esteemed symphony orchestras playing theme songs from computer games.

Your ice creams are better than putting your hand in the pocket of a little-worn coat, feeling paper currency, pulling it out hoping to see Banjo Paterson and seeing Sir John Monash instead.

Your ice creams are better than those fireworks that retain their shape so that they look like giant, ephemeral sky globes.

Your ice creams are better than art deco ceiling roses.

Your ice creams are better than Worcestershire sauce on lamb chops.

Your ice creams are better than a soft cat’s fur.

Your ice creams are better than watching small children bamboozle adults with simple logic.

Your ice creams are better than beating Carlton.

Your ice creams are better than stumbling upon ripe wild strawberries while gardening.

Your ice creams are better than Yarra Trams reply emails.

Your ice creams are better than those Dyson hand driers that dry your hands in half a millisecond.

If your ice creams were a footballer they would be Lenny Hayes (anyone who doesn’t like him must be considered morally unsound and mentally deficient).

If your ice creams were a character from the 1970s Japanese television shows Monkey’ they would be the amusing horse.

If your ice creams were contestants on ‘MasterChef’ they would ignore the advice and direction of the producers, refuse to speak in the present tense during cutaway interviews, never cry, and say things like “My family was the furthest thing from my mind while I was cooking this dish” and “Gary, I couldn’t give a stuff what you’d be doing given the same circumstances; why don’t you fuck off and let me cook.”

If your ice creams met Kyle Sandilands in the street they would punch him straight in the dick.

Your ice creams make me want to dance at parties, even though I am very very shy and have no rhythm or coordination.

Your ice creams make me want to write classical music in the manner of Claude Debussey.

Your ice creams make me want to turn brief complimentary notes into wildly over-written love letters, comparing the object of my affection to fire works and hand driers.

Your raspberries and vanilla bean ice cream bars are in the top ten things ever invented by anyone in the history of civilisation and the fact they haven’t yet been heritage listed is an absolute disgrace.

With love and the least amount of sarcasm or irony I’ve ever put in a letter to anyone – even my wife,

Jonathan Rivett

Haught fact of the day:

I lied; I will never dance at a party.

Other emails I’ve sent:

THE RESPONSE: My email to Metro Trains

In May I sent an email to Metro Trains. It started out as an opportunity for the Big Blue M to test their complaint response writing skills against the new public transport (and possibly the world) standard. It ended as an angry diatribe, I’ll admit. For this reason, if Metro had erred slightly on the side of conservatism in their reply, I would have given them some latitude.

They didn’t, however, err on the side of conservatism so much as put every single egg they’ve ever owned into the conservative basket:

Dear Jonathan

We thank you for your extensive critique of our running of Melbourne’s train network.

Your commentary is appreciated and we will consider your suggestions along with others, as we continue to do all we can to ensure Melburnians get the train service they all deserve in one of the world’s great cities.

We’re not there yet, Jonathan, but if you’ll pardon our progress, we’re getting there.

You have outlined a number of general observations and experiences which we are keen to address and consider a meeting would be the most appropriate forum to discuss your concerns.

Please let us know of your preferred date and time. We look forward to meeting with you.

We do ask for your patience as we seek to transform Melbourne’s railway to accommodate what we promise will be a world class service.

Yours sincerely

Angela Marotta

Customer Relations Manager

Big tick for spelling ‘Melburnians’ right. Not so keen on the “pardon our progress” line. But let’s get to the good bit: the suggestion that we meet.

Why beat around the bush? They’re going to whack me, aren’t they?

Dear Jonathan,

Thank you very much for your prompt reply. Unfortunately we may not be able to accommodate your suggested meeting time of 2.30 pm. Can we instead organise to meet at 2.30 am at the abandoned warehouse beside the Mobil Oil Terminal in Yarraville? (It’s the one closest to the river.) 

The possibility of being killed execution style  is one reason not to accept their offer.

On the opposite side of the gangster scenario ledger, I have for a long time fantasised about reenacting the Joe Pesci “You think I’m funny?” scene from Goodfellas in a real-life situation:

Me: Anyway… so I’m sitting down with Sam Marshall, and we’ve both had a couple of drinks each, and he says to me, he says “I thought when I first came into the bar you actually would be wearing a white chiffon scarf.”

[The Metro Trains contingent laugh uproariously]

Young Metro Representative: [laughing, wiping a tear from his eye] You’re funny. You’re really funny.

Me: What do you mean I’m funny?

YMR: It’s funny. You know. That was a funny story. We love your blog. It’s funny. You’re a funny guy. [laughing forcedly]

Me: What do you mean? The way I talk? What?

YMR: It’s just, you know. You’re just funny, it’s… funny… the way you told that story and everything.

[everyone has stopped laughing]

Me: Funny how? What’s funny about it?

Older Metro Representative: Jonnie, no. You’ve got it all wrong.

Me: Hoh – whoa. He’s a big boy. He knows what he said. What did you say? Funny how? You mean…  let me understand this, because, you know, maybe it’s me… I’m a little fucked up maybe, but… I’m funny how? I mean funny like I’m a clown? I amuse you? I make you laugh? I write my blog to fuckin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny? Funny how? How am I funny?

YMR: Just… you know, how you tell the story, you know… What?

Me:  No, no, I don’t know. You said it! How do I know? You said I’m funny. [running out of breath] How the fuck am I funny? What the fuck is so funny about me? Tell me. Tell me what’s funny!

Unlike Tommy DeVito, I probably wouldn’t ever admit I was joking, though.

Seriously though, they must think I’m funny. So funny that I have some kind of disproportionate societal influence, enough to warrant a formal brainwashing session.  And that’s what it will be – surely.

The alternative would be addressing, point-by-point, my email criticisms:

Metro Representative: “…OK – so if you’re happy with that explanation of why our staff member spent 90 seconds blasting the contents of his bronchial tubes into an empty coffee cup in preference to doing his job, we can move on to the possibility of having a fully-platinum train in operation before 2017…”

What on earth could they possibly tell me in person that they can’t tell me via email? “Going forward” is just as hollow out of a person’s mouth as it is on paper.

Maybe this is where I need to get creative:

Dear Angela,

Thank you very much for the invitation to meet in person. Do you mind if I bring along a couple of people I know who are just as disappointed with your service as I am? If that’s sounds fair to you, are you aware of any venues in Melbourne that seat 4 million people?

or

Dear Angela,

Yes, a meeting is undoubtedly the best way to discuss my numerous concerns. And by meeting I mean a televised debate simulcast across every single TV station in Australia, including the ABC and SBS, and all the digital ones, except that one that shows people having their fortunes told. 

or

Dear Angela,

I would very much like to meet to discuss my criticisms. Although perhaps “discuss” is the wrong word. How would you feel about addressing my concerns as part of a stage musical with your CEO as the leading lady? It doesn’t have to be original

“Trains were on time when old hacks were retired
When inspectors were kind
And our carriages  inviting
Trains were on time when profits weren’t required
And the world was a ride
And the ride was exciting
Trains were on time
Then it all went wrong

We dreamed a dream of trains on time.
When hope was high
And life worth living
We dreamed of stations in the sky
We dreamed of punters more forgiving…”

or

Dear Angela,

A meeting sounds like a fine idea. Can we do it like the Sooty Show where if I don’t like one of your explanations I squirt you in the face with a water pistol or dramatically slam my face into a full bowl of cereal, spraying you with milk? 

But let’s be honest, I’m not going to meet with them. What would be the point? What new information will I get? Are they withholding important  information from the public which they only release to smart-alec bloggers? And if (hilariously) they are – is it going to be honest and insightful stuff? Is it going to answer not only my mostly flippant questions, but also the serious questions raised by people who know the system inside out, including Metro’s own drivers (some of whom are making astonishing claims about the dishonest practices and policies carried out by their employers)?

But my main concern – my main concern by far – is that if I organised a time to meet, I would then need to catch a train to get to that meeting. And the last thing I’d want to do is turn up late to such an important appointment.

Haught Feelings would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused.

The #FreeAnnie campaign

If you think the way Melbourne’s train system operates has to change, get involved in the #FreeAnnie campaign.

Haught fact of the day:

According to IMBD, the “You think I’m funny?” scene from Goodfellas came out of a real life experience Joe Pesci had had when he was much younger. The director, Martin Scorsese, allowed Pesci and Ray Liotta to improvise the scene without telling the numerous other actors involved what would happen.

A [FAUX] RESPONSE: My email to Metro Trains

Last week I sent an email to Metro Trains.

I haven’t yet heard anything back from an official representative, but reader Veloaficionado has had an excellent stab at responding on their behalf:

Dear Mr Haught,

As a representative of Metro, I will take the opportunity to reply to your latest letter. At Metro, we pride ourselves on keeping abreast of all commentary on our performance, and although some may call this paranoid and in the vein of witch-huntery, Section G-37-B is very good at its job. The surveillance equipment they deploy is second to none, and the data encryption and database security employed is world class, deep within the reinforced concrete 3rd basement level where it is stored.

So rest assured that we are aware of your reputation and previous correspondence with other instrumentalities and businesses, and we wish to reassure you that we take your views of our performance very seriously.

However, we must take issue with absolutely everything that you say, even that we seem to employ public image management that is somewhat amateurish and implausible, or to you, it seems, laughable. We have spent a substantial amount of public money on such well-credentialed public relations advisors, who have offices in major European capitals and both the east and west coasts of the US.

We have to trim our expenses elsewhere, perforce. Only supplying paper cups to our employees for the purposes of expectoration, is, regrettably, one of these. In the “good old days”, of non-benchmarked performance, full public ownership and trains that always ran on time (with the greatest extent of track of any metropolitan transport system in the southern hemisphere in the late 1940s), even the most monosyllabic long-term employee of 25 and more years standing could look forward to a silver-chased, embossed leather personal foldable spittoon as recognition of years of arduous service standing in grey drizzle, exchanging glowers with passengers, sorry, customers.

The timetabling and punctuality issues that you refer to in your, quite frankly, spiky and provocative missive, are nothing out of the ordinary. The government makes us publish figures, and, well, we just go along with it. We keep getting paid as long as we do so, and so far, the arrangement seems to be working. What they actually mean is, well, in line with the average Australian approach to getting things done, that, it sort of works. A bit. Mostly. We try very hard to sell this to our French management team, who often fly over and drop in for a Lan-Choo and a Tim Tam, and I think that they are gradually getting their heads around it.

One thing I do take exception to in your communication, is that you appear to be a racist, of the blackest hue. Yes, many of our customer service frontline strike team are from an ESOL background, and are developing their English language skills on the job, however, you appear to be selectively applying this to certain instances. It is natural that when under threat they may retreat into their most familiar idiom, and appear to be of a sub-normal or infantile understanding, however they are perfectly suited to the tasks delegated to them. It is the customer service tasks that, repetitive as they are, are core to their reason for existence. However, even the most dedicated operatives will have lapses. It is unfortunate that you personally have seemed to happen on a relay of them having a bad day. It is also unfortunate that other passengers, sorry, customers have an identical experience at a similar time. We are working to get the customer/operative ‘bad hair day’ synchronicity ‘out of sequence’, but like a couple of dissimilar car blinker relays, they will always come back into sequence occasionally.

Apart from Singapore (which seems to be a whole society of anal-retentive obs-comp. weirdos) EVERY public transport system IN THE WHOLE WORLD has filthy toilets. It is a defining characteristic of the medium. I’m sure that you would feel uneasy in going into, for instance, the station conveniences at Narre Warren and NOT find cigarette burns on the toilet roll dispensers, and semen stains from mistimed and poorly aimed attempts at copulation or auto-erotic satisfaction. So just back off on the shit stains issue, OK? If in fact you did make mention of it. But if you didn’t, don’t. OK? Right. Remember, we know where you live, and we’re still enough part of the government (just) that we can have our contacts at the State Law and Order Unit come and pay you a visit at 4 in the morning. They won’t knock, and you may have to call a locksmith and a glazier afterwards, Don’t say you weren’t warned.

On a lighter note, we are happy to announce that we are “gettin’ down with da homies”, to coin a phrase, and have introduced an “app” for the new “smart-phones” to tell people where to go, and how to get there, using “public transport”. It seems to have provoked much discussion, and has raised the profile of our ‘brand’ enormously. People are still getting where they need to go, so it must be working.

An initiative we are working on is introducing the “smiles per hour” ratings for our stations and trains. A pink smiley face sign will be telling you that people smile at each other where we operate, and that this is the best, surest and even the only way to get through the privations, tribulations, vicissitudes and upheavals that is a natural correlative of traveling with other people that you have not chosen to travel with. We carry everyone, and all their phobias and inadequacies, including your own lack of forbearance and good humour, if you will permit me to say, and scrubbing vomit off 30 year carpet in Hitachi trains is not how most of our customer service associates would choose to spend their time, if they had their druthers.

So, in conclusion, sir – we know your name, we know your reputation, and we will be watching you very closely from now on. We are always open to suggestions as to how we can improve our service and product to the consumer. We have a comprehensive and compendious catalogue of suggestions, and we can cross-match every new whinge and whine with those previous going back to the 1970s. We are well aware of every problem inherited from the previous administration of the transport system in this city, and the cesspool of such, whilst not being drained, is at least being flushed through with complaints such as yours. One hopes that it is not so large, nor so misshapen, as to get stuck further on in the process of complaint management.

Yours, E. Wasserschiet

Complaints Management Division, Section G-2-B

Your Train People

This is a good time to thank everyone who’s emailed, messaged or commented on the blog (or the Facebook page), or reminded me I owe a cafe money, since I began having Haught Feelings a couple of months ago.

Keep the correspondence coming.

Haught fact of the day:

I once saw a banana drop onto the ground from the trouser leg of a man walking down Swanston Street. When he realised that several people had witnessed the event he ran away very fast. If it had been a cartoon – and it nearly was – he would have left a him-shaped cloud of dust.

My email to Metro Trains

I wrote a letter to Metro Trains.

Exciting times.

Dear Metro Trains,

My name is Jonathan Rivett. You might know me – I’m kind of a big deal.  (I have many leather-bound books, and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.)

If you’e not familiar with my work, here’s a quick summary. A couple of weeks ago I became very, very famous when I posted on my blog an email exchange between me and Yarra Trams.

I sent them my account of a tram trip my wife and I had endured during which a drunk man abused passengers in a theatrical baritone. I felt that Yarra Trams had been less than truthful with their insistence that the police had been called once this man’s antics had gone from entertaining to distressing and wanted to know the real story. It was an immensely humorous and exquisitely worded piece of correspondence.

Instead of coming back with a hollow, supermarket-bought reply email, Yarra Trams responded in kind. I posted their brilliant email on my blog. The radio station 3AW found it, then The Age got wind of it and the rest is history.

Anyway, long story short: I thought I’d give you a chance to better your bitter public transport rivals.

Now, you may be thinking: ‘What a contrivance! He’s going to make up some spurious claim just so he can demand a thoughtful reply email.’

In fact, I have a back catalogue of unsent Metro Trains complaints that, if put down on paper, scrunched into a ball and launched into space, would quickly begin orbiting the sun and become our solar system’s fourth largest planet.

The hardest part about writing this email will be choosing which of the sixty-five billion incidents I should mention.

Here are some from Flinders Street alone:

Not long ago a Metro customer service rep couldn’t help several passengers frustrated by a faulty myki barrier because he was too busy clearing phlegm from his throat – for one and a half minutes. He finally got around to dispensing his wisdom once the offending green stuff had been deposited in his cardboard coffee cup, which remained in his hand as he told the commuters that they were “doing it all wrong”.

Another time, a woman approached a platform attendant to clarify when a train was coming and, presumably because she was “of Asian appearance” (as they’d say on Crime Stoppers), got this response before she could even start the question: “No. No. Me no help. Me very busy – have many many work to do.  Thank you. Good bye.” The woman walked away and uttered a sotto voce “Bugger this” (in a bit of a Queensland twang), at which point the Metro representative turned around and warned “Mind your language, missy.”

I once witnessed one of your platform announcers become so angry when a commuter ignored their advice to “stand clear – the train is now departing” that they began to repeat the instruction into the microphone. The fourth time was loud, the fifth time was very loud and then it just got silly and people on the platform had to begin covering their ears. During the eighth “STAND CLEAR”, his voice cracked and from then on it sounded like he was doing an unsophisticated Will Ferrell impression. By the twelfth and final one (the one where I thought I saw blood come out of his ear), the person he was screaming at had long since boarded the train, which was at that point leaving the station.

These are just some of the more picturesque examples that come to mind. The problem with this email, I think, will be the lack of bowled bread loaf and Biff Pelican references for you to play off. And there’s a good reason for that – the bizarre behaviour of drunken passengers pales into complete insignificance when put side by side with your customer service.

Everyone understands that you have infrastructure problems that aren’t of your making. What few of us understand is your unfailing commitment to terrible, terrible communication and your unstinting lack of respect for the punters, the people who hand over their hard-earned to keep you afloat.

Why do customer service people stand in front of barriers at Caulfield Station during peak hour so that one or two are effectively out of use?

Why do your express trains regularly stop at all stations and vice-versa?

Why is sitting like a stale bottle of piss between the MCG and Federation Square now the most time-consuming (involuntary) pastime in Melbourne?

Why do you persist with this “It’s all the customers’ fault” mentality?

Why do you have so many of your surliest and most bitter employees in ‘customer facing’ roles?

Why do the numerous Twitter accounts pretending to be your company offer more insightful and timely information than the actual Metro account?

Why do you bother retaining the Metro Promise section on your website when every single bullet-point is farcical?

What you can expect from Metro:

  • Clean, comfortable, safe and punctual rail travel
Why not just add trains made entirely of platinum, sleepers made of unicorn horns and new stations in the sky?
  • Clear signage and increasing levels of real-time information updates
When you say “real time information updates” are you talking about when platform announcers make hilarious low-ball guesses at how late a train is going to be?
  • Proactive plans and actions to ensure your safety
Proactive actions? I don’t even know what that means.
  • We will bring stations to life, for everyone everyday
What, like in The NeverEnding Story when that mountain starts talking?
  • We actively encourage feedback, listen to customer views and act on them
Are you regretting this one yet?
  • We collaborate with other public transport operators to deliver seamless tram, bus and train service links
I’ve noticed one or two seams, I have to admit.
  • Regular sweeping and cleaning of stations and convenience facilities
Is a convenience facility another name for a dunny? If so, when you say “regular”, what are we talking – bicentennially?
  • Reconfigured train carriages to make peak travel more comfortable
Show me a person who finds peak hour train travel comfortable and I’ll show you a person with a fetish for claustrophobia.
  • We stand behind our promises.
If I were you, I’d stand behind solid things, not abstract ones, because a lot of people want to throw things at you.

As for those stats that you publish on the percentage of late trains and cancelled services – please! If you’re going to fudge figures, you either have to go the full Saddam Hussein or try for a more subtle – and potentially believable – deception; say 12% for “Punctuality” and 65% for “Delivery”. At the moment, with your 92s and 97s, you’re in no man’s land. Either make us laugh at your outrageous braggadocio or make us cock our heads and think “I guess it’s possible.”

Do your senior management group ever travel on the train during peak hour, and if they do, what in buggery do they make of the shambles that is their network? Do they laugh? Do they weep? Do they delude themselves into believing everything’s fine? Do they not really care as long as they keep getting subsidised by the government?

One thing they talk about a lot is improvement. They told us we’d notice it the moment Metro took over from Connex. When we noticed the opposite, they told us to be patient. When still no improvement came, they told us it was definitely coming. If you only answer one question in my email, it’s this: when? When can we expect to see this improvement? When are we getting the “world-class” system you promised? When can taking a train be a pleasant experience for Melburnians?

That just about brings my email to an end. And now the whole of Australia – and much of the world – waits with bated breath to see what you come back with.

If you can’t go all Sam Marshall on my arse, my advice would be to at least avoid corporate weasel words and keep the  passive voice to a minimum.

With much sincerity, some anticipation and very little  hope,

Jonathan Rivett

My feedback has successfully been submitted and my case number is 2012/80818.

Haught fact of the day:

The talking mountain in The NeverEnding Story was in fact a Rockbiter named Pyornkrachzark.
Other emails I’ve sent:
 __________________

VINTAGE HAUGHT: My email to Gasp Jeans

In September last year Gasp Jeans received an email from a customer disgusted with the service she’d received at their Chapel Street store. It was the perfect opportunity for Gasp to punch out some Marshallian brilliance and then tan themselves in the intense light of the public goodwill that would inevitably have followed.

That, of course, is difficult without some pretty special response-email talent in your customer service area, so an alternative might have been a sincere apology, an “any inconvenience caused” template reply, or to follow medium/large-business best practice and just ignore the email completely.

Instead, they flew to Fuckwitery, Texas, went into a gun shop called The Customer is Always Wrong, purchased a semi-automatic email response weapon and fifty kilos of ungrammatical ammo, returned to Australia and proceeded to do the online equivalent of “going postal“.

The exchange got the social media virus and soon just about everyone had it.

You can – in fact, you must – read (or relive) the full story here.

Here’s what I wrote to them a few days later:

Dear Gasp,

I’m just going to cut to the chase: can you please abuse me by reply email?

I’ll be brutally honest (I know you goddamn respect that): your clothing doesn’t really do it for me – diamante encrusted denim isn’t my thing. But by Christ I love your approach to customer service via the written word.

I find the style of your (recently much-publicised) email correspondence nothing short of mesmerizing. The gloriously specific examples, the beautifully restrained sprinkle of Latin, the extravagant defense of your staff… truly exhilarating stuff.

I want one of your emails  to call my own.

I want you to make brazen assumptions about me. I want you to be patronisingly didactic. I want you to make concessions about things that weren’t up for debate in the first place. I want you to bolster your case by citing “A-list” celebrities who I only know of because I once glanced at a New Idea while lining up at a supermarket check-out.

But most of all, I want you to throw grammatical convention to the wind, and use “whom” like it’s going out of fashion – pardon the pun.

I notice that your use of “whom” has received a great deal of attention post-“Good-luck-at-Supre”-gate, most of it grossly unfair. I mean, for goodness sake, we live in a postmodern age – some say a post-postmodern age; the rules of grammar have never been more fluid. In fact, I would go so far as to say they’re now gaseous. If you want to completely ignore irrelevancies like the difference between a subject and an object, and smash out a dozen “whom”s in five paragraphs, you should go ahead and bloody well do it. And be applauded for it. And perhaps be given the institutional equivalent of an Order of Australia for it.

Speaking of postmodernism, I particularly admire the way you’ve melded an almost aristocratic superiority with an unashamed embrace of the tawdry and vulgar. I know you love a really good metaphor – “dead flamingo”: superb – so I’ll put it this way: it’s like you’ve built an Ivory Tower, sprayed it with Clag and then blasted sequins onto it with some kind industrial strength leaf blower. And thank fuck for that, because goodness knows this world needs more sparkly elitism.

On the subject of “fuck”, my only criticism of your email correspondence (on the basis of exposed form, at least) is that if anything it’s too subtle. It doesn’t include enough profanity or, for that matter, explicit reference to the fact you hope the very worst for your erstwhile customer. In my humble opinion, the only thing missing from the email response to Keara O’Neil on 28 of September was “fuck off and die” – I mean it was clearly there as a subtext, but why leave it at that? So if, at some stage during your reply, you could call me a cunt or threaten my family, I’d be most grateful.

You are truly mighty iconoclasts and I look forward to your reply with the anticipation of a genuinely repentant sinner awaiting the drop of the (taffeta adorned) guillotine.

With more reverence than you could possibly imagine,

Jonathan Rivett

I did receive a response. It didn’t quite have the same edge to it as the one Keara O’Neil received, and was conspicuous for its absence of dead flamingoes:

Many thanks for emailing us with your enquiry.

It has been passed to the relevant department and rest assured that we will be in touch with you as soon as possible.

While you are awaiting our response, why not become a fan of our GASP Facebook page?

Kind Regards,
______________________________
GASP Online Customer Care
P: (03) 9421 6812 | F: (03) 9421 1720 | W:  www.gaspjeans.com.au

I didn’t become a fan of their Facebook page.

Haught fact of the day:

I posted a poll on my Facebook page asking what you wanted to see next for the blog. “My email to Kyle Sandilands” won easily. But what would a blog entitled ‘Haught’ be without a total disregard for the wishes of its fans and followers?

I might post the Kyle Sandilands email next week – and promise it will make a bit more sense when seen as a kind of ‘sequel’ to the email above.

Grape Men quote of the day:

“I never say half the fuck horsehit that Hoff blog fuck say I say.”

“Haught. It’s pronounced Haught.”

“Ah! I no fuck care what you pronounce it. I never fart on Enzo’s car. I piss, yes. Of course. We all piss -”

“We do. We all piss on his car.”

“But I no frangivento!”

“I know, mate. I know. It’s bullshit.”

“It fuck horseshit. I start my own blog.”

“What now?”

“Yes. Fuck now.”

“But what about the fuckin’ grapes?”

“Ah! Fuck the fuck grapes!”

___________________

Who are the Grape Men?

Find out here.
___________________

THE RESPONSE: My email to Yarra Trams

You may have noticed by now that I believe sarcasm is the second highest form of wit (lavatory humour being the first). Today, however, I write without even the slightest hint of it.

You may remember a few weeks ago I posted an email I had sent to this mob:

If you didn’t catch it, you can read it here.

I write the emails I send to well-known people and organisations, imagining very different reception scenarios. In the case of the Jim Beam email, for instance, I imagined a chimpanzee being slightly surprised by the noise of the email chime, making a little noise of distress, then (inexpertly) pressing the delete button with his long index finger, just like he’d been taught to.

In the case of the email I once sent to Kyle Sandilands, I imagined Jackie O phonetically reading the email on a tablet computer out loud from the side of a pool in which Kyle was lolling, and giving up after the second paragraph (and the fifteenth time Kyle called her a “dumb, illiterate moll”).

In the case of the email I once sent to Margaret Court, I imagined Margaret herself hissing at the screen and then escaping into the night through the window in the form of a bat.

When I sent my email to Yarra Trams, I imagined an overworked 21 year-old on their ninety-eighth email of the day (at ten past nine in the morning) scanning my email, seeing the word ‘poo’ and bringing up the “excrement-fouled tram’ template.

I imagined wrong.

What I got was nothing short of genius. Not a template at all – a real letter written by a real person.  A talented person. A person I now want to meet and drink beer with and possibly give a little kiss to at the end of the evening (and I fully realise Sam may well be a man).

Why am I still speaking about it? It speaks for itself:

Dear Mr Rivett,

Thank you for what is, by far, the most entertainingly written feedback I have ever received. Your recount of events that occurred on the evening of 13 April 2012 was at once concerning and humorous.

While I have attempted to respond in a manner befitting the feedback we received, I do not wish to give you the impression that your observations and concerns have been disregarded or taken lightly.

When I read the first of the drunkard’s ramblings, I took his question to mean ‘Is it to be that we are engaged to be married?’ As I continued reading, I attempted to jam his square peg outbursts into my round hole understanding of his first question. I soon realised I couldn’t make any sense of it, but I feel better knowing that you were equally confused. Also, I agree that “screamed he” is perfectly acceptable under the circumstances.

Notwithstanding my concern for Mr Pelican’s disruptive behaviour, I would like to think Biff was bowling his baked goods from somewhere near the centre of a B-class tram towards either end – there is a hatch in the floor at each end just behind each of the driver’s cabins. While hitting the sides of the hatch would send the unsliced wholemeal delivery off towards point or square leg (or in real terms, and annoyingly for all parties concerned, getting lost between seats and the legs of other passengers), pitching the loaf on the front or rear edges of the hatch could certainly be regarded as landing it in a ‘good area’.

I also hope Biff Pelican’s name is not indicative of what he does in his spare time. But I digress.

Getting back to the crux of the matter, a call was indeed made by our driver to our Fleet Operations Centre (FOC), logged at approximately 6:35pm, alerting them to the behaviour being exhibited by Biff’s arch-nemesis. (Not “control room” or “HQ”, I’m afraid, but I hope this name still appeals to your Dick-Tracy-esque ideals). After attempting and failing to deter the drunkard with an announcement via the public address system, FOC contacted the police. Four times. After the fourth request to have police meet the tram, a Yarra Trams Response Unit (is that ‘Dick Tracy’ enough?) became available and was instructed to intercept the tram (ok, so Response Unit might not have hit the mark, but surely ‘intercept’ is a winner, no?). After our Response Unit arrived, our Fleet Operator received a call at 7:16pm from a Senior Sergeant of Fitzroy Police who advised that no other police were available to attend, and that as such, he was on his way himself. He arrived four minutes later at 7:20pm.

Please accept our apologies for what you and your wife experienced on our Route 86 tram. Just as your questions are based on the predication that the police could not have possibly taken so long to respond to our call for assistance (and the cause for delay must have been within Yarra Trams), our Fleet Operator also believed that police would be available to meet with the tram in a timely manner. Regrettably in this instance, there were no police officers available to attend to the tram until 7:20pm, which contributed to the negative experience of those customers onboard the first Route 86 tram.

I appreciate your good-natured approach to this incident, and I thank you again for taking the time to provide us with your wonderfully written feedback.

Spare a thought for the Yarra Trams Response Unit staff who drove the drunken man home.

Should you have any further queries or comments regarding this matter, please feel free to contact me directly via reply email, or by calling me on 9619 3311.

Kind regards,

Sam Marshall
Customer Relations Officer

I am tempted to call Sam as offered, but know I would get shy and giggly and have to hang up quickly.

I can’t believe Yarra Trams received an email that ended with “…if you could respond as entertainingly as I have complained, I would be most grateful” and didn’t put it in the “arrogant fuckwit” outbox AND had a crack at responding entertainingly AND consummately nailed it AND found a balance between humour and facts AND satisfied pretty much every one of my concerns.

Brilliant.

If Jim Beam want to know how to make something go viral they can put aside their  incomprehensible, cacophonous clusterfuck of an ad and take a leaf out of Yarra Trams’ book. Confound expectations, ignore corporate cliches, respond to cricket references with cricket references.

If you don’t recommend, refer, repost or retweet another of my posts ever in your life, do it to this one and give Yarra Trams the widespread adulation they deserve.

Haught fact of the day:

I once sent an email to Gasp Jeans’ Prahran store and within a few months it had closed down. Coincidence?

Yes.

Grape Men quote of the day:

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…”

“It’s fuckin’ April, you stupid fuck!”

“…tooooys in every store…”

“Eh, you hear this fuck?

“…but the prettiest sight to see…”

“I think he has pretty good voice, actually.”

“… is the hobby that will be…”

“Hobby? You silly fuck. It’s holly. Holly.”

“…on your oooown front door.”

“Leave the man alone. He got voice of angel.”

“But he doesn’t even know the fuckin’ words. Why would there be a hobby on your front door? It’s not even… a thing. It’s a fuckin’ abstract fuckin’ noun. And it’s fuckin’ April. AND HE’S FUCKIN’ WEARING SLIPPERS!”

“You are grump. You are grump man.”

___________________

Who are the Grape Men?

Find out here.
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