Earlier, I blogged that a major U.S. maker of lawn care equipment initially refused to honor the warranty to repair or replace my leaf-blower for free. I wrote corporate headquarters, and a fellow called to say that the corporation would indeed have my machine repaired for free. Then they did. I thank them for it.
Writing the letter, I used insights gained from teaching some high-quality business communications classes. I used formal register, a polite but no-nonsense tone, and full command of style and grammar.
It shouldn’t surprise me that the corporation honored the warranty. Warranties are legally binding, and although open to interpretation, granting all but the most ludicrously false claims makes good PR sense. But it did surprise me.
When did I get so cynical? When did I start thinking that my single voice counted for nothing versus the faceless giant corporation? This resolution resonates with the recent election. How many (potential) voters didn’t even bother to vote because they believe it makes no difference? And how many citizens, now that the voting is over, will decline to tell those politicians what to do? Or speak out if the politicians don’t keep their promises? After all, one voice counts for nothing, right? The system is corrupt, the fat cats get fatter, etc., right? If the citizens don’t advocate for their beliefs, the pols will certainly continue to guess… usually poorly. If I hadn’t written corporate HQ, they would’ve kept on like usual. As a side note, I might not even see all the results: perhaps my letter will contribute to the corporation re-evaluating the customer service process, increasing customer satisfaction (and sales). Not likely, but a better chance than doing nothing.
Advocating for myself did cause a change. As a citizen, you may already take an active part in our democracy. As a consumer, you may already advocate for your rights. It does matter, and it’s worth doing (even if you kinda doubt it.) People get away with too much, and too many things go wrong without any malice at all, when people don’t speak out. Please do!