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Everyone has received one from a large company at one time or another.  They are very easy to identify for they have certain characteristics regardless of the topic.


I recently complained to my cable TV company because the signal was constantly going out.  In fact, cable service was down for three consecutive days.  Based upon the monthly premium that I pay for this service, it should be mirror-clear 100% of the time.


My first step in my complaint was to call the company’s “800” number.  After pushing several numbers on my phone dial, I ended up with a recorded message stating that the company already knew that there was a problem in my area.  Therefore, I was deflected from speaking with a real person.  I guess this is progress.


Several days later, the cable went blank again, but this time was out for only a full day.  I repeated my call to the company with the same results.  Approximately a week after that, the cable went blank again, thus pushing my patience over the threshold.  This time, I went to my computer and the internet.  I found the TV cable’s web site, clicked on “contact us” and promptly sent them an email explaining my disgust that they were unable to keep my cable up and going for more than a few days at a time, and even then the picture was full of interference and “ghosts”.


Two days later I received a reply to my email complaint from the cable company.  It was a one-page letter expressing regret about my problem, and giving me a litany of things to check on my television set to “assure proper reception” of their signal.  Nothing addressed the problem of their keeping their cable service up and running.  So, I had received the “bug letter” from them.


Years ago when the railroads were the preferred means of long distance transportation across our country, the Pullman car, or sleeping car, was a necessity.  It contained a number of small cubicles with bunks and a bathroom.  Not exactly a Holiday Inn Express, but it was a place to stretch out on a berth and get a few winks sleep.  


The story is told that the president of one of these railroad companies received a letter of complaint from a passenger expressing disgust that his sleeping car had roaches and other bugs.  Several days later, this perturbed passenger received a very nice letter from the railroad company executive.  The letter expressed sincere regret about the vermin and that this particular Pullman car would be pulled from service promptly and sprayed thoroughly to get rid of the unwanted insects.  In other words, it would be de-bugged. The passenger was thanked profusely for his notification of the problem.


After reading the letter, a small yellow piece of paper was found inside the envelope.  The passenger read the writing on the paper which stated, “Betty, send this guy the bug letter.”  Thus was born the expression to which I refer.

We all get “bug letters” from companies who promise to correct problems but don’t really seem to plan on following through.


The next time that you send a complaint letter, or email, and you receive an unsatisfactory response, just remember who told you about the “bug letter”.

They are everywhere !


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