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A.J Kirby offers a number of creative writing services for business or personal use. From copywriting to press releases, he's your man. From creating web-text and boring stuff like that to penning letters of complaint, simply contact him and we'll see if we can help.

Letters of Complaint

AJ Kirby is the master of the complaint letter. Amongst his victims have been airlines, banks, crisp manufacturers, hotels, rail companies and football clubs. Here are a few choice examples:

Manchester United FC (April 2009)

Re: Stadium Reconfiguration  

Dear Manchester United

I am writing with reference to two events in the past week which have shaken my faith in Manchester United both as a football club (in the traditional sense of the term) and as a business (which I'm sure that you want to be known as). That you are failing your customers in terms of your business offering will surely concern you, especially in this recessionary climate, and I'm sure even a basic grasp of marketing will tell you that it's always easier (and cheaper) to hold on to those customers you already have rather than to embark on a costly and time consuming customer acquisition campaign.  

That you have not even grasped the basics of marketing and are risking alienating great swathes of your customer base worries me greatly. Is there any direction or management within the business side of the club whatsoever?  

Let me explain the situation.  

Over the past few years, there have been several PR disasters regarding your treatment of your fans (or customers as you most likely term it) however in each instance, I have maintained my support in yourselves and in your methods. I always felt that, at heart, there was still some desire within the club to remain rooted in the community, and to place at least some value on the 75000 supporters that fill the ground every week, and fill the coffers too.   When friends have criticised your shoddy treatment of fans, I have always been the first one to stand up and make excuses for you. 'There's a lot of people to cater for,' I'd say. 'We should cut them some slack,' I'd say.   Not any more.  

On Friday 24th April, we received three letters which we assumed to be the season ticket renewal forms. Of course, we'd already heard about the pound-a-game increases (this while 99% of other clubs are freezing their own prices) but yet again, we'd meekly submitted. 'Okay,' we said. 'We'll pay that. It'll be a strain, but we don't want to lose our seats.'  

Oh how we laughed when we actually opened said letters, which were standard letters, I hasten to add. (Even the most basic of CRM systems could have improved upon your shoddy and rather insulting text. 'We really are sheep to you,' I thought. Has the impact of new, more sophisticated systems not been felt at Old Trafford yet? Have you not got a sponsorship deal with a company that could provide a system such as this? A system which could design a simple letter in order that it achieved its objective rather than causing immediate offence?)   

I digress. Anger trembles through my fingers as I write. But that's what following a football team for your whole life does to you...   In the letter, you mention the extreme importance we as season ticket holders are to the business and also the extreme disappointment the decision to exterminate ALL FANS within three rows of the boxes at the back of the stand may cause. And at this point, may I please apologise for polluting the air for your best customers, those in the boxes behind us for so many years - when they are full; most of the time for run of the mill matches you don't even fill the box behind us... Maybe we deserve to be lined up and shot, or gassed, which would do you a big favour for a couple of years until you realise the capacity is down and you want us back. More fool you. We'll be dead!  

Disappointment then, is probably NOT the word. I'd say that the initial reaction of my family bordered on the livid side of the fence. Or maybe shock was the first response, and then denial, then anger, like the death of a friend.  

It seems that a decision has been made without any discussion or prior notice; a decision made with total contempt and disregard for the people who for 10, 20 and 30 years or more have occupied these dears with families and friends. Some people have probably sat here since before you were even born son, so think on before you make such rash decisions.  

The socio-economic make-up of the West Stand means that we are generally an older bunch. We pay our monies well in advance and have been extremely loyal in doing this season after season. We turn out rain, hail or shine and we have been there and supported the club through the best of times and the worst of times. Another thing: we are well-behaved. There haven't been many times that the stewards have had to come and tell us to sit down. Which is a good thing. We can watch the game in peace, without the constant interruptions which plague other seating areas in OT and across the country. My father is in his sixties and is not keen on having to watch a game constantly on his feet as we recently discovered at Wembley. To move us to another area of the ground would mean that we would risk our view of the match.  

So once again, the great Manchester United decide that the 'extremely important' season ticket holder is not as important as the Prawn Sandwich Brigade and the once a season invited guest that is more concerned with stuffing their faces with wine and cock than watching the soccerball.  

Which brings me on to my second point; the extremely insensitive decision to print the PR piece in last night's programme about the new exec boxes which will take the place of our seats. Oh how we laughed and pointed and oohed and ahhed as we read about how comfortable these shithouses would be in their new homes. Oh how we bowed like the poor servants we are and dropped our age-old scarves in the puddles just so they didn't get their fucking loafers muddied by the Mancunian rain. Oh what will you do when football no longer becomes a spectacle because proper fans are not there, and these Johnny-come-latelys disappear up their own arseholes and start eating their own brains mixed in with the prawns.  

One final note. I'm not counting Tevez's box in this criticism. It was ace to see Diego Maradona in there when we played the Rent Boys.  

Yours, Angry Man   

Crisp Manufacturers (received 72 packets of crisps in response to the complaint)

Dear Carol  

Many thanks for your letter of 3 July 2008 regarding my complaint about the lack of flavour in my purchases of Nik Naks Nice N' Spicy, and for the £3 compensation vouchers which you offered as an indication of goodwill. I would, however, like to record my displeasure at the level of compensation offered. Indeed, £3 seems to me to be a rather insulting level of compensation, barely covering the price of purchase, fuel and replacements.  

Over the course of my time as a food reviewer for various publications, I have, unfortunately, had to bring other similar issues to light, but have generally had these issues taken seriously. In this case, I believe that my complaint has been simply 'brushed-off' with very little care and attention. I do hope that you might consider the extreme anguish which resulted from the poorly flavoured items.  

My children, who I rarely allow to eat such salty foods, were traumatised by the whole incident, no believing that they have been somehow conned. Both went to bed with tears streaming from their eyes and empty bellies. One did not even want to get up again in the morning, once he remembered about how his Nice n' Spicy snack was in fact a stale, falvourless stick like the ones he could chew on in the garden. They now talk in hushed tones about the 'Flavour Monster' that stalks the night and steals children's taste. They believe that he inhabits a packet of your Nik Naks and waits to jump into their mouths, greiviously wounding their taste buds.  

Help me, KP Foods. Help me to convince these children that the world of crisps is actually a world of bursting colour and texture. One in which they can safely walk without fear of being attacked for no other reason apart from the fact that they still hold a tiny candle of hope for the future of taste and decency.  

They have now started a whispering campaign amongst their tiny friends in the playground. Mothers have to console their children and whisper that there is no such thing as the 'Flavour Monster', but deep in the dark of the night, they know that this is not true. There is a mechanical monster lurking in their cupboards or under their beds, waiting to creep onto their pillows and consume everything that was once good.  

Please help me tell them that there is art and majesty in the humble crisp or corn snack. Please let them see that fire is spicy and can't be touched with bare hands. For I live in fear that because of your Nik Naks and their lack of flavour, they will now plunge their dimpled hands into the front room fire, believing it to be cold, cardboardy and tasteless as your crisps.  

I await your response with bated breath, which is more than can be said for your crisps.  

Regards, Mr. Crisp 

Hotel, Crawley (received full compo)

Dear Sir, Madam

I write with a serious complaint regarding our recent stay at Travelodge Gatwick Airport. Although we addressed our complaints to reception on the day of our check-out, we felt so unhappy at the service that bringing the matter to your attention was the only option left available to us.

Sadly, the reason for our stay at Travelodge was for a funeral of a close relative on Wednesday 21 November. I'm sure that, bearing this in mind, you'll understand that all we wanted was a comfortable, quiet room for the night in order that we could attend the funeral in a reasonable state of mind. Unfortunately, our stay was anything but.

As a businessman who travels the UK extensively, I have a pretty good idea of what constitutes good service at a hotel. All I can conclude is that what we saw at Travelodge Gatwick was not good service. Amongst a litany of complaints, we felt that the room was dirty (and even dangerous - see later), the staff rude, the general upkeep of the hotel poor, and finally, the fact that there was no way of purchasing food or drink after 10pm frankly ridiculous.

The fact that your Gatwick Airport hotel must cater for customers worldwide led me to believe that visitors to our country would be met with a rude awakening if they stayed at your hotel. Travellers must arrive at all hours of day and night, tired from their travel. To find that they would not be catered for, unless it was between the strictly regimented hours beggars belief.

Myself and my partner arrived at 9.55pm on the Tuesday night after a long, gruelling drive from Leeds to be met by a scene of chaos. Fellow customers were literally fighting to be served before the 10pm deadline in order that they could be sustained for the night - we missed out, unwilling as we were to join in with the fracas. We watched in shock as people were left with no food... and were forced to use your vending machines for something, anything to keep us going.

Ah, but at least we'd be able to get a good night's sleep in a clean, comfortable room? That would be the very least you'd expect, wouldn't it? It seems that your hotel wouldn't even allow us that simple pleasure. The room was, in a word, disgusting. There were stains to the toilet bowl, black marks on the bath, an unnamed substance virtually blocked the sink.

In the bedroom, light fixtures were not properly installed - wires hung from the roof! We wondered whether we'd somehow been transported to a third world country. (Here I enclosed a pic)

In addition, there were worrying marks on the walls, as though somebody had tried to claw, or punch, their way out of the room... well, who could blame them? The place was like a prison cell. 

What really took the biscuit was the fact that despite the clear lack of care and attention to everything else in the room, the hotel had seen fit to install a nice flat-screen television. Now, I'm all very happy to see modern, expensive technology, but when it's clearly in place of any money at all being spent on the rest of the fixtures and fittings, then this again beggars belief.

Our night's rest was disturbed by screaming children and slamming doors, making the funeral even harder to bear. When we explained this to your staff, we were met by rudeness, grunts and a lack of any care or even respect.

All of this can only lead me to one conclusion. I will not be recommending your chain to anybody. Further, I will not be forwarding your hotel chain's name onto our company's list of hotels in which we stay, and as a large employer in the UK, this is no idle warning. I can only wonder if all of your hotels are so poorly serviced and staffed.

On your website, you use the tag-line ‘join the revolution'. I can only conclude that the ‘revolution' in question took place in the bedroom of the Travelodge Gatwick Airport - and judging by the state of the room, it was a pretty violent revolution - a bit like the French Revolution. Maybe cannons went off in your rooms? Does that explain the disarray?

I look forward to your speedy response in this matter, and would certainly consider any offer of compensation, or alternative stays in order to change my negative views.

Yours truly, Mr. Tired