1.3 Letters for Discussion—Landscape Plants Your nursery sells plants not only in your store but also by mail order. Today you’ve received a letter from Pat Sykes, complaining that the plants (in a $572 order) did not arrive in a satisfactory condition. “All of them were dry and wilted. One came out by the roots when I took it out of the box. Please send me a replacement shipment immediately.” The following letters are possible approaches to answering this complaint. How well does each message meet the needs of the reader, the writer, and the organization? Is the message clear, complete, and correct? Does it save the reader’s time? Does it build goodwill? Letter 1: Dear Sir: I checked to see what could have caused the defective shipment you received. After ruling out problems in transit, I discovered that your order was packed by a new worker who didn’t understand the need to water plants thoroughly before they are shipped. We have fired the worker, so you can be assured that this will not happen again. Although it will cost our company several hundred dollars, we will send you a replacement shipment. Let me know if the new shipment arrives safely. We trust that you will not complain again. Letter 2: Dear Pat: Sorry we screwed up that order. Sending plants across country is a risky business. Some of them just can’t take the strain. (Some days I can’t take the strain myself!) We’ll send you some more plants sometime next week and we’ll credit your account for $572. Letter 3: Dear Mr. Smith: I’m sorry you aren’t happy with your plants, but it isn’t our fault. The box clearly says, “Open and water immediately.” If you had done that, the plants would have been fine. And anybody who is going to buy plants should know that a little care is needed. If you pull by the leaves, you will pull the roots out. Since you don’t know how to handle plants, I’m sending you a copy of our brochure, “How to Care for Your Plants.” Please read it carefully so that you will know how to avoid disappointment in the future. We look forward to your future orders. Letter 4: Dear Ms. Sykes: Your letter of the 5th has come to the attention of the undersigned. According to your letter, your invoice #47420 arrived in an unsatisfactory condition. Please be advised that it is our policy to make adjustments as per the Terms and Conditions listed on the reverse side of our Acknowledgment of Order. If you will read that document, you will find the following: “. . . if you intend to assert any claim against us on this account, you shall make an exception on your receipt to the carrier and shall, within 30 days after the receipt of any such goods, furnish us detailed written information as to any damage.” Your letter of the 5th does not describe the alleged damage in sufficient detail. Furthermore, the delivery receipt contains no indication of any exception. If you expect to receive an adjustment, you must comply with our terms and see that the necessary documents reach the undersigned by the close of the business day on the 20th of the month. Letter 5: Dear Pat Sykes: You’ll get a replacement shipment of the perennials you ordered next week. Your plants are watered carefully before shipment and packed in specially designed cardboard containers. But if the weather is unusually warm, or if the truck is delayed, small root balls may dry out. Perhaps this happened with your plants. Plants with small root balls are easier to transplant, so they do better in your yard. The violas, digitalis, aquilegias, and hostas you ordered are long-blooming perennials that will get even prettier each year. Enjoy your garden!
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