Wednesday, June 11, 2008

To complain, or not to complain... that is the question

Donna over at Quiet Life has an interesting question today.  Do you write notes of complaint or praise?  Do you send those thoughts in the mail, or telephone your complaint, or use email?  I immediately thought of several situations where I let complete strangers know what was on my mind.

Several years ago, Kaylin and I used a delightful curriculum called Five in a Row.  One of the picture books we needed was Night of the Moonjellies by Mark Shasha.  But alas, it was out of print and our library system didn't have it.  So several families wrote the previous publisher asking them to reprint this book.  I sent my note along to the publisher and a few weeks later, I received my very own copy of the book from the author himself.  He had a few copies of his own and to thank some of us for our effort, he sent us his book.  He had a cute illustration and a personal message inside.  That was one of the most fun units Kaylin and I did.  We just had a blast.  And of course, we then sent the author a thank you card.  This book has since been republished by Purple House Press.  They specialize in reviving older classic children's books.

More recently, I purchased a hard cover book, brand new, just for me.  I usually don't spend the big bucks on hard cover books, but I heard an interview with the author and the subject matter was near and dear to my heart; chocolate.  Bitter Chocolate by Canadian author/journalist Carol Off, to be precise.  For the most part the book was well written, but the beginning was slow going because there were numerous typos and grammatical errors in the first 5 pages.  I was disgusted because I spent my $35 and the publisher had done such a crummy editing job.  So, I emailed them my disgust and I received a very lackluster response back.

This isn't word for word, but the gist of the message was, "Sorry.  These things happen with first printings.  We'll correct it in later printings."

Ugh!!!! Not good enough.  I haven't bought a hard cover book since.

My last story doesn't have to do with books.  It has to do with our adoption.  During this process we have dealt with several different social workers at various steps along the way.  We have not been impressed, but I do not complain out loud.  They hold a lot of power over us and I don't want to jeopardize anything.  However, sometimes their lack of professionalism is startling.  One day I was in one office and the social worker did not show up for a scheduled meeting because he was on vacation... and didn't let me know! This was just one of many unpleasant encounters I had.  I was not pleased but I tried to hold it in.  The secretary was just so compassionate and helpful and went out of her way to try and help me.  So I went home and made her a card and dropped it off.  I don't think I would recognize her today, but on that day she was the one bright spot in a dreary day.  

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