Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Sunday, 31 October 2010

The way to field a complaint

Friday, Saturday, Sunday evenings the BBs tope; other nights we drink vaguely healthful Horlicks and peppermint tea. Recently the Horlicks powder was grey rather than beige and tasted of poorly conceived potato soup. Horlicks sent us a pre-paid envelope. Here are extracts from their reply:

“Our Quality Control Lab states the returned sample was found with a burned and damaged foil seal. The most likely cause is it was burnt during the heat induction stage of packing (at our supplier)… causing a burnt plastic/chemical smell. Precautions have been introduced to avoid such incidences.

“Tests (to check that powder meets strict specifications) include sensory (sic!) where trained analysts taste and comment on odour and appearance. Unfortunately this jar was not detected.

“We do carry out trending of complaints… if these come from the same date code, further investigations are carried out… In this case we set up a cross-functional team who identified the root cause. Improvements identified are now in place.”

This seems a model response. The technical fault is described, the failed checking process acknowledged, and the solution (kicking the supplier’s ass) indicated. It presumes intelligence in the customer. However I shall stick to peppermint tea.

MAD BUT GOOD In Cervantes’ 760-page Don Quixote you lose your place. Dialogue is unseparated from the rest, causing endless paragraphs. Otherwise it’s good stuff:

Sancho: “How will you do for victuals when I am gone?”
The Don: “Never let that trouble thy head. For though I had all the dainties that can feast a luxurious palate, I would feed upon nothing but the herbs and fruits which this wilderness will afford me; for the singularity of my present task consists in fasting, and half-starving myself, and in the performance of other austerities.”


The Crow said...

I don't think many American companies would have gone to the lengths Horlicks did to assure one of their customers they took action to correct a problem.

Usually, they reply that they're sorry I was dissatisfied and enclose a coupon for another jar, can or package of the item which lead to the complaint in the beginning.

In some parts of the US, victuals became vittles. Until I read Don Quixote (well, attempted to--didn't finish it) and had to use the dictionary to interpret victuals, I thought vittles was a bastardization of vitals. So, belatedly, thank you, Cervantes, for the edification.

Barrett Bonden said...

The Crow: Nor British ones. So much simpler to send off a freebie which most people receive with childish gratification.

"Didn't finish it..." There's a nice ambiguity there; did the act of not finishing occur a mere 100 pages from the end or just 10 pages in? But I'm not prying. If you tried it, that's better than the vast majority. The fact is it's quite easy to digest if it weren't for the problem I outline. Progress is so slow (I'm on page 230 after a fortnight) and there are other books I've bought which I want to dive into. But I have a sentimental obligation; after all he wrote the book way back (1605 to 1615) and it's amazing it's ultimately so readable. Even so, the minute I finish this I shall be on to The Guardian's website where Stephen Sondheim's book about lyric writing, normally £30, is available for £21.

I may be wrong but are vittles eaten only in the southern states?

The Crow said...

Re: vittles being a Southern expression - probably, and mostly mountain folk. At least, that's where I first heard the word, in the Ozarks of northwestern Arkansas. Learned grub in Texas, and with it the definition of grubstake. Comestibles in New Orleans, naturally, along with cuisine, gourmand and gourmet.

Vittles were what you raised or grew, what you bought "down to the grocery" if you had money for such purchases, and - finally - the stuff you set on the table at mealtimes. Good, all purpose word, is vittles.

Not to be confused with slop, which is what we fed the animals; or slops, which we emptied from the night jar each morning.

Probably more than you needed to know, hunh?

The Crow said...

Re: the novel - if I'm remembering correctly (I read Cervantes in the library at my high school, during study hall over the course of several weeks), I got as far as his second excursion; I recall the scene with his neice begging him not to go, but don't remember how far into the story that happened.

I have vague memories of his humiliation at the Duke's court, but that might have been from the old black and white movie I watched on very late night television some time later.

Barrett Bonden said...

The Crow: Vittles is how we pronounce victuals. The word is more or less obsolete ("dated" says my dictionary) in the UK except, perhaps, in revictualling, which is what ships do. It does appear in Dickens where one of those comical uneducated fellows we're supposed to find funny perversely supplants the initial v with a w. That meaning for "slops" crops up in prisons here; prisoners "slop out" when they present themselves with their buckets, filled overnight. A nightjar (all one word) in the UK is a bird.

The niece scene in DQ is rather early on. As to being humilated, this is a recurring event, roughly at five-page intervals.