Posted by: cassymuronaka | June 11, 2009

Having a cow

Jack in the box slider

Once in a great while, I fly into such a snit about a perceived consumer injustice that I am motivated enough to compose a terse but heartfelt letter of complaint that I promptly mail to someone as far up the corporate food chain as I can possibly identify.

Few of us truly understand the power of a brief, well-organized letter fired like a missile into the heart of a company’s Chief Executive Officer.

Sometimes my targets are insurance or credit card company monoliths. In those cases, I am usually tilting at windmills, merely going on record as officially being driven batshit by nonsensical policies. Still, I once got an entire group of department heads at a major university hospital to sit down for a big unhappy talk about poor patient care.

A less dramatic but equally satisfying result followed a written tirade chronicling the erratic delivery of Cooking Light magazine to my home. A letter I wrote resulted in a surprising two-year extension on my subscription, as well as free cookbooks.

Lately, my senses have been assaulted by the disturbing, talking clown-head man on the Jack in the Box commercials, who regularly makes me want to throw a shoe through my television set.

Much as I am loathe to admit that I have responded to the repellent ads for Mini Sirloin Burgers featuring “tiny and bold” cowboys “herdin’ cows the size of schnauzers,” I do love me a little cheeseburger, so I eventually purchased a set of the slick little sliders.

Like so much in advertising, what you see is not at all what you receive at the pick-up window. A three-pack of Mini Sirloin Burgers priced at $3.99 looks mighty tasty in an advertisement, but what my photo shows is one of those dry, overcooked meat patties barely filling half the side of a tiny bun.

And so, we return to the subject of consumer complaints and the lost art of bitching through the US Postal Service.

You only need to write one letter, but it goes straight to the top. You then will “cc” that letter to the offender’s Customer Service and to any other pertinent departments.

It is a complete waste of time to vent at anyone in Customer Service. These people are skilled combat veterans and have Purple Hearts in dealing with consumer rage. In addition, they are invariably located in India or the Philippines, nowhere near your urban American problem.

But do call Customer Service first, and try to pry out the name of the company CEO and the address of corporate headquarters. You might get the company’s primary address, but you are unlikely to discover the name of who runs it, so you’ll probably end up online at Google and Superpages.

Keep track of the Customer Service people with whom you speak. Get their alleged names and maintain notes on your conversations, as well as times and dates.

Your eventual websearch possibly will turn up other useful information, such as regional company headquarters. And for every regional headquarter there is a regional manager, which is another very important name to add to your list.

Names of real people are key. It’s what we lack in customer service these days. Automated answering systems and fax machines are the worst things that ever happened to consumers. There is no longer any real access or accountability. Everyone has the ability to hide out almost indefinitely.

For every name you can collect, there is a human being at whom you can point one of your long, accusing fingers. And that is a person who will be squirming in his or her chair when singled out in print as part of a deliberate or inadvertent global conspiracy to ruin your life or screw up your mini burger.

And every one of these people wants to you to go away right now, whether it’s the CEO, the regional manager of Whatever, or the automatonic Customer Service guy.

Getting you to instantly disappear is directly linked with one of those people actually having to examine your problem, something the guy in Calcutta isn’t going to do. And because most people are decent human beings who also want to avoid bad publicity, the odds are that the corporate Grand Poobah is going to toss your missive at his or her secretary and say, “take care of this.” That means you’ll soon be getting a letter yourself, telling you how very sorry everyone is and what has been done to correct your problem.

And this also ensures that you don’t write any more letters that might somehow find their way into someone’s personnel file.


  1. keep us informed as to how this one turns out.

    sometimes i like to wage guerrilla warfare against the monoliths, just to make myself feel better. i took joy in calling the cable company saying, ‘this is the 34th (35th, 36th, 37th, …) call i’ve made to you people about this …’ just to waste their time.

    • Stay tuned.

  2. I’ve had pretty good luck with bitching & moaning to the top, myself. Usually a Dogpile search can unearth the names of the corporate biggies. I’ve had exceptional successes with Mervyn’s (R.I.P.) and Office Depot.

    Gotta say, though, that I do adore those commercials. I still remember the first time I heard one of the “new” J-i-t-B commercials–Jack said something about their milkshakes being thick enough to lube a truck. It wasn’t clear (yet) that this was going to be a tongue-in-cheek ad campaign, so I just sat and felt astounded for awhile! (But the great commercials have not persuaded me to eat their products. The shakes are TOO habit-forming to eat; the chewable stuff is nasty.)

  3. I’ve been one of those silent blog followers for a while, and must say that yours never fails to leave me smiling. This one is no exception.

    How they can call that pitiful excuse for a beef nugget an actual slider I’ll never know, but I applaud you for taking up the cause and actually doing something about it. Good luck!

    • Thank you so much, Jo!

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