Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Coin Flipping

I wrote this letter to a solicitor who is threatening me with legal action today over a 5 pound purchase / transaction which went a bit bumpy.

My only excuse for writing something like this was that I was tired when I got home and wanted something mildly amusing to do. Actually, I ended up enjoying it like it was some kind of creative act. So perhaps I should do it more often!

Why do you want to read it? I don't know - go and do something else right away!

Dear Sir / Madam,
It seems your client "The London Mint Office" and your own organisation deserve each other. The London Mint office don't seem to know what they're doing and you guys don't answer your phones. Given the incredible sense of urgency your letter has, I am surprised you don't bother to invest in an adequate system so that you can deal with your customers clerical errors and complaints faster. What fun you guys must have together.

Mind you, I'm no better it seems. I used to think I was a careful and considerate consumer, but alas, I have faltered. No, I'm not referring to a sudden burst of slovenly payment practice (as you will see in due course) I do of course mean the fact that I chose to purchase a Battle of Trafalgar 5 pound coin from the London Mint Office. What rash craziness! What was I thinking?

In terms of being an efficient organisation, the London Mint Office is right "on the money" up to and including delivery. My Trafalgar coin arrived in no time at all - even before I’d paid for it. There’s trust for you. Something so valuable in the post with no guarantee that I won’t just run off and spend it. Free money in the post guys!

I was almost simultaneously blessed with offers from a mass of other "limited" offers that came with it. In fact there does appear to be a rather unlimited supply of limited offers nowadays strangely. Very efficient company when it comes to mailing people stuff. I was impressed.

Now of course, as you are well aware, Lord Nelson fought hard and died a hero, the Battle of Trafalgar itself is now a major landmark time in our history. So no doubt many hours will have gone into the careful design and pressing of this once in a lifetime limited coin.
Well, this cherished and most rare heirloom, which is designed to stay throughout my family's generations to come, first saw the light of day as we opened the post over breakfast just after the 18th March 2006 in our dining room.

I gathered the family around and began recanting romantic tales of the sea, preparing my children for the visual and sumptuous feast of coin history about to grace our table. I clear aside the cereal boxes and coffee cups so that the kids can see first hand this exclusive collectable. I eagerly opened my little plastic wallet.

But what is this? Have I mixed up my coin with one of the free Shreddies giveways on the table?

Now let’s get this straight. If you gave me a disk of steel, a hammer and some metalworking tools, I might struggle to create a lasting icon of any description. But this is precisely why I like to leave coin making to the experts.

So, a qualified coin forger or presser (or whatever) I may not be, I confess - but I still know a good one when I see it. So, having examined this specific specimen I now feel that I am able to issue a critique over what category I feel this coin falls into.

Not wishing to sound too defamatory to the creator (who may take offence) but, this is nothing more than a tin trinket. It’s a beast of a knob crock bottle top in fact. It’s truly hump I’m afraid. Worth 5 pounds? Well apparently so - I seem to remember some clever text circumlocuting around the concept of this being legal tender etc. But I have not yet gone down to the bank to see if they will exchange it for anything. And I have to say I have my doubts.

Some say all I need to do is pop down to a place called Tristan da Cunha - and if you have no idea what I’m talking about, I suggest you follow the links to some sites I unearthed about your esteemed client which I attach below.

The error I made was obviously the one that was intended for me to make all along. Namely to mistake the London Mint Office (with it’s faux Royal appointment logo etc) with the Royal Mint who at least have a pretty good handle on coin design and of course manufacturing etc.

So, once bitten, twice shy as they say. I figured I could send it back and therefore not pay the 5 pound invoice that came with it or I could just pay for it, learn the lesson and perhaps give the coin to some kid somewhere, some day as a wee gift. Oh well, it’s only 5 pounds. A crying 3 year old at a bus stop would never know the difference and, you never know, it might make someone’s day.

I was late for work so I popped it in my briefcase and went off to the bus stop in search of a kid in need of a small lift. Before I left the house I also sent off my credit card details with the paying in slip. Being organised I kept the invoice details (1038935 - dated 18th March 2006) as well as the counter slip and sent all the necessary information to the London Mint Office on the same day.

The next thing to happen was final reminder letter dated 02 May 2006 (Customer no 6000026785). I was instructed not to ignore this outstanding issue of unpaid 5.pounds. Perhaps my pay-in slip had been lost in the post. I better phone immediately! I rushed to work and phoned the London Mint Office hotline (9th May 2006) and spoke to a nice lady “Mary Wells” (?) she checked my account. “Fully paid” she said. This was in accordance with my own records too so I duly felt the matter dealt with. The London Mint Office did receive my payment after all. The reminder was clearly issued in error.

So then I get your letter (21st June) threatening me with pain and suffering etc unless I settle this sum immediately.

So, like I mentioned, when I called your office this afternoon (27th June 2006 at 13:10) I get no reply and no voicemail etc. to help me. Ineptitude. This is why I say you clearly deserve each other. Incidentally, "fully paid" I may be on some records at the London Mint - but I checked my bank this afternoon and the payment never went through. Perhaps Mary should look under her desk for the slip.

I can’t be bothered trying to pay the London Mint Office their 5 pounds anymore. I have tried hard enough. I like to charge my clients 50 pounds an hour for my time. So if you insist on billing me for this utter piece of trash in this plastic wallet, then I will reciprocate by invoicing both you and the London Mint Office for the trouble I have been to thus far - including an admin charge of 100 pounds for this letter.

Meanwhile, It seems no kids have been crying hard enough on the bus of late, and so, I believe I still have my special Trafalgar coin in its wallet should you wish to retrieve it. I think it fell down the side of one of our sofas in the living room. I can arrange a mutually convenient time for you to collect it if you so wish - but you'll have to hunt for it.

If you’ve never seen one of these coins before you might want to make the effort. Of course a trip to Scotland form London might seem a little too much trouble - but I should remind you that your client believes the Trafalgar coin is a very desirous and collectible artefact indeed - I would add that it could probably double its value overnight if one of your kitchen table legs becomes fractionally shorter than any of the others.

Below are three hyperlinks to articles about your client I found on the net this afternoon which I mentioned earlier. I'm so glad my company doesn’t suffer this kind of humiliation. Mind you, not only do we have real products to sell, we also bother to keep our accounts in order (so we know who has paid over who hasn’t) and we even answer the phone too - which I guess helps.


See the article entitled "Short Change" here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/mirrorinvestigates/tm_column_date=25052006-name_index.html


Regards Spike Allibone

I checked on the coin's authenticity only AFTER sending this mail and it does appear that I have a genuine coin. However, how does one define a collector's item? If you knock it up in a hurry so you can make a quick buck off the back of some emotional public commemorative celebration then you could be called a bit of a con man. But then again, if what you do is a commercial success then I guess it's just business.

The fact remains however that I felt duped by the process, and the coin is shoddy to boot. Sorry Horatio that it came to this!


Anonymous said...

Nice one - wish I had read your blogg before being similarly sucked in by this pile of trash. Is there any update on your situation?

spiketrain said...

Update? Well I guess so in that I never heard another peep from the solicitor - which was the desired effect.
Not sure they learned much from my letter - I hope they found it mildly amusing. However, I read it back to myself this morning and nearly died of boredom!
I plan to do much better next time.
It makes you wonder the things some people do for a living. Someone somewhere in the mass manufactured world of worthless "collectable nonsense" is probably very well off thanks to people who love to stick china plates on their walls with pitures of kittens / Elivs / dambusters etc. They're all the same - and you have to hand it to them I guess. I work extremely hard in, you could argue, a similarly pointless industry - and I am not any where near paid enough for it either. These people however hardly do what I would call hard work, and, if you'll excuse the pun, they are all probably minted! It's a licence to print money.... sorry that's two puns!

12 Squared said...

so is Spike your name, then or pseudenom? (sorry, spelling is something I am not always brilliant at, and on this laptop it's a bit of a trick to cut and paste from one thing to the other as hubby does not like microsoft products cluttering his memory)

what i thought when i read this before is not quite what i'm thinking now, actually. I was at first struck by how articulately and long-winded (I think you have me beat, by the way) you went about this letter.

now I think I'm just more amorous of the guts it takes to have a full-out winge at a company clearly in need of it. *lol*

what was the outcome, if you dont mind my asking...

I've wanted to a million times, at least, and have decided it's best for me to keep my mouth shut and not drive my kid crazy or get my husband started as he's quite capable of saying more than I am. I was not aware, actually, until bringing the poor man to this place that irate Englishman and penchant for tirades that are funnier to the bystander than to the speaker go hand in hand. I thought it was just a John Cleese thing. *lol*

we, none of us, will ever be recognized for our contributions until they are collectible by others, it seems.

you have a small fan club growing... lets make you collectible... and then you must positively always give good customer service or you, too, might manage to push the wrong personal buttons on the wrong night and wind some intelligent and articulate man around the twist.

would you be able to read with the level of humor you were able to write with, I wonder?

probably. you really dont seem as flappable as you sound from your blog, sort of something we might have in common. i frequently sound more frustrated and fed up than I actually am.