The Art of Complaining With Pizzazz!
The facts are in, folks - humorous letters and complaint letters can be one and the same! In fact, as shown below, some healthy laughter may swing that company into action faster than a speeding bullet!
Here is another real-life letter - this one mailed to the Penn Central Transportation Company more than three decades ago. This hilarious letter of humor proves that classic comedy comes in the strangest of places sometimes. Note how the author rambles on like he was having a personal, friendly conversation with the gentleman. Read all the way to the end, and then check out the rapid-fire response!
Trains as a mode of transportation may be out of style in many places, but humorous letters such as this are classic.
Enjoy this bit of transportation humor!
The Saga of the Steamy Sauna
June 18, 1975
Mr. Ken Smith, General Manager
Penn Central Transportation Company
516 West Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, Illinois 60606
Dear Mr. Smith:
Approximately one year ago, I viewed with passing interest a communique over your signature, indicating among other things that the PCTC would be responsive to any and all inquiries. This letter constitutes one such inquiry.
I am not ordinarily a complainer, but I have recently decided to give it a try. I have been enjoying it. I complained to the Waste King Company and received a new set of knobs for my gas stove. The knobs I had on the stove had broken and in order to make Mother's Oats in the morning, I had to use a pair of pliers (channel lock type) which are difficult to manipulate at 5:30 a.m. I have to awake and eat at 5:30 a.m. because, since April 15, 1970, I have been a commuter on your railroad between Valparaiso, Indiana and Chicago, Illinois.
By the way, I have never had the opportunity to thank you for running a train between Valpo and Chicago. As you may know, the monthly ticket I buy constitutes a considerable savings over the cost of driving everyday. So, in many ways, I appreciate having the train.
While we are talking about April 15, 1970, permit me to point out that the two trains operated at close to capacity at that time and capacity was 432 persons and the monthly ticket from Valparaiso was $40.00. Five years later in April of 1975, the trains are operating at near capacity but capacity is now 936 and the monthly ticket from Valparaiso is $65.00. These figures reflect a 117% increase in ridership since 1970 and 65% increase in fares since 1970.
We have all experienced double digit inflation the last 12 to 14 months. However, I am wondering if you realize that for the fare to increase from $40.00 per month from Valparaiso to Chicago to $65.00 per month, the PCTC would have had to experience double digit inflation for each of the last five years. for example, at a 10% per year inflation rate, the fare would be as follows:
April 1970: $40.00
April 1971: $44.00
April 1972: $48.88
April 1973: $53.68
April 1974: $59.05
April 1975: $64.95
Since as I pointed out before, this fare constitutes a considerable savings over the cost of driving to Chicago, I will not complain further about the cost.
However, I am going to complain about the service. I do not wish to complain about the time schedule, that is reasonably accurate. The problem is not one of arriving on time, the problem is of being in an advanced state of misery once I get there.
I ride the Penn Central Sauna, Car #1625.
I have been in a Turkish bath that was cooler than #1625 on occasion.
This past winter, the steam was stifling and the steam made my seat sweat on my Sears Seersucker suit.
This was compensated for somewhat by the snow which blew in through the windows. But, on days it did not snow, I sweat. Now that summer is upon us, the steam is no longer with us, but the heat is because there is no air conditioning on #1625.
It is now necessary for me to keep an extra Sears Seersucker suit at the office in order to avoid walking around all morning with a sweaty seat.
Since there is no air conditioning, it is necessary to make an effort to keep the door open. This is difficult because the door latches do not work well. Because the door is open and the windows leak, there is always in the air the pungent smell of diesel fuel.
Hence, not only does my Sears Seersucker suit have a sweaty seat, but also my Charlotte Amalie musk oil is not able to overcome the smell of diesel fuel on my suit.
This problem was brought home to me one morning when I walked into my office and my secretary suggested that I should not bring the train into the office. She is a bit narrow minded but observant.
I do not wish to be nit-picky, so I will stop at this point. I realize the PCTC has many problems, and I know some of them are difficult to solve. I am wondering, however, if you would be so kind as to look into the air conditioning problem on Sauna Car #1625. I would appreciate any consideration given to this matter.
Alvin J. Haytha, Ph.D
Be sure to
to read the rapid fire response from the PCTC Manager!
Humorous letters don't have to be all fun and games - they can weave in a valid complaint and get your point across very effectively. Have you written a humorous letter lately?
Humorous Letters Sauna Saga: Part II
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