Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Email Tutorial

Remember when the Internet was "new" and Martha Stewart wrote columns about web etiquette--like how to properly address emails? No? Just me, then? Okey-doke.

Today I'm going to play Martha and offer my own email tutorial because I think it's important to praise companies when they do a good thing and to gently reprimand them when they, say, suddenly add unnecessary allergens to a product. Does it make any difference? I honestly don't know. Probably not. But at least I know I've spoken up. Besides, it takes just a few minutes to send an email to a company: no envelope, no stamp, no hunting for the address, no getting it to the mailbox before the mail carrier arrives, etc.

Letter The First:*
Dear [Company]:

I am writing to let you know how much our family enjoys [product]. My [person] has a severe [allergen] allergy, and s/he is able to eat your [product] because it is [allergen] free. Please continue to produce your wonderful [products] !


* Variations:
Write to your local supermarket to thank them for carrying certain products.
Write to a company whose product you enjoy and would like your store to carry and give them your store's contact information.
Write to a restaurant and thank them for the allergen-free items on their menu.
Write to a potential vacation spot you love and ask them about their allergy policies.
Write to a show that is allergy sensitive. (I wrote to Sesame Street to thank them for the "soy milk for sale" sign in Hooper's Store. Katherine was really excited about it.)

Yes, some of these messages could be delivered in person, but the company can use your wonderful letter (known in the airline industry as an "orchid letter") as an example of how awesome they are, making it more likely that they will continue to carry your item. You will almost always receive a thank you for your note.

Now it's time to let your passive-aggressive tendencies shine.

Letter The Second:
Dear [Company]:

Our family has enjoyed your [product] for many years. Sadly, we are no longer able to use [product] because you have changed the recipe and added [allergen]. My [person] is severely allergic to [ingredient] and cannot eat it. We will miss using [product] and hope that you will reconsider changing the recipe back to its original form.

Thank you for your time,

You will almost always receive a response that cites the months of consumer research the company did to come up with their "new and improved" recipe. You will often also receive a coupon for the altered product, encouraging you to "try it again." This might make you want to beat yourself over the head with your laptop, but at least you tried.

Now get writing!


  1. Awesome! I am a strong believer in the power of the pen (or keyboard in this case). I usually just do it for the coupons, but you have a much more noble reason!

  2. I have had just that kind of letter rattling around in my brain for a while now. Thanks for giving me the nudge to actually sit down and write it out.

  3. This is such a great idea!

  4. What a wonderful idea. Thanks for putting this idea into my head.

  5. Martha would be so proud. Great post!

  6. This is great. I've been meaning to write my local grocery store. Thanks for the encouragement!

  7. I liked your suggestion to compliment or thank a company that's doing a good job. I know I don't do it often enough. On the occasions I actually do remember to pay a compliment, I almost always receive a surprised and delighted reaction. I guess people complain a lot, but tend to forget to pay compliments. Thanks for the reminder!

  8. I never saw this, but could have written it myself. Makes me feel a little less frustrated that I'm not the only one experiencing this cycle!