Thursday, 21 February 2013

Letters of complaint

Writing letters is said to be a dying art, and it seems that this particularly applies to letters of complaint.  In days gone by, I wrote the occasional letter to the "powers that be" expressing concern or even a complaint, and generally received a considered response.   You gained the impression that the matter had at least got somewhere near a person with knowledge of the relevant area.   Once or twice, the authority I wrote to actually did something useful as a result.

However, with the development of the internet (with its forums and blogs), email, the provision for comments on news articles, Facebook and the like, there seems to be so much "clutter" around that no-one in authority feels the need to take complaints or concerns, no matter how carefully formulated, seriously.  At best, they get sent off to a "media person" or minder to compose some generic response.

Hence, I've given up writing letters regarding issues in the public arena.   In spite of this, I was so frustrated by a particular issue on the trains a few weeks back that I made an exception to my no-writing principle, and wrote a letter to our local MP.  Part of the reason for writing was that I wanted to make a number of related points and to draw attention to some broader issues, rather than make a simple statement along the lines of, "why are trains being cancelled?" or "I'm annoyed because I was delayed today".

Well, composing the letter had one positive outcome - it allowed me to get the matter off my chest.

But apart from that, it was a waste of time.  The MP forwarded it on the Minister for Transport, and eventually I received a response clearly written by a minder who obviously hadn't understood - or chose not to understand - at least one of the points I made, and which was otherwise pretty much full of platitudes and assertions.   All I can hope for is that my letter made it to the statistics of complaints about the issues concerned.

As for me, I re-learned the lesson that there's not much point in trying to write a careful letter - and certainly not to politicians.  If I want to get something off my chest, I may as well save the postage stamp and just mouth-off in an on-line forum - like everyone else!

No comments:

Post a Comment