Below are two examples of my persuasive writing techniques. The first one attempts to cajole an online seller into issuing a refund for goods that turned out to be faulty, and there is some hilarious online correspondence quoted below it from the hapless CSA. The second is my attempt on behalf of the membership, to persuade the council to reverse its decision to demolish our squash club, in order to build houses on the site. The first was successful in achieving its aims, with its veiled threats!! The second failed miserably, thanks to some activities behind closed doors!!
My sister had a problem with a faulty fruit-cage, ordered online, and the vendor was trying to make all the excuses he could to refuse a refund! She asked me if I could help and this letter resulted in a remarkable result!
Too many people are over-aggressive in trying to obtain satisfaction when things go wrong. A positive, forthright and straightforward approach, using the ‘carrot’ and ‘stick’ method, can very often prove successful. Masked within the structure of the language here is an implied threat (damage to the vendor’s ratings) and a potential reward (cost-saving and top star rating).
Correspondence prior to this letter is appended below.
Ref: (Order: 203-0095574-8722751)
Many thanks for your response, which I have to say is far from satisfactory. I sincerely hope that you will put this matter right in a proper and fair way! Everything I have told you is factual. Our other fruit cage, from a different manufacturer, constructed with similar materials, suffered no damage whatever, though it was exposed to the very same winds that caused the one we bought from you, to collapse! My brother has a polytunnel with a plastic cover. The steel tubing on that is exactly the same as on the one you supplied. It also suffered no damage whatsoever. There was no snow, and nobody was pushing and pulling the tubes to bend them! The wind was very strong that night!
Your attitude implies that you don’t believe what you have been told. To suggest in any way at all that this is somehow our fault, is quite frankly scandalous. We are really not in the business of trying to pull a fast one. You can see the extent of the damage, caused by the wind and NOT the snow. Quite clearly, for it to bend the way it did implies that perhaps the tubing was not made of top quality steel! Equally clearly, the steel tubing on our other fruit cage, bought elsewhere, and on my brother’s polytunnel, (similar cost) was made of sturdier metal, though it was also 19mm aluminium.
To summarise, we would like a full refund of our hard-saved £318, since the fruit cage was not satisfactory, or, as a reasonable alternative, (and no doubt, cheaper for you, given the profit margin! lol) a replacement cage sent to replace the collapsed one! Should you wish to inspect the bent tubing yourself, for Q&A purposes, we will happily return them (or the whole thing) upon receipt of a pre-paid postage label.
Finally, I should point out that Amazon will receive a copy of all our correspondence on the matter. For our part, despite your initial reluctance to settle it amicably, we would happily endorse the friendly, efficient and supportive manner in which you have resolved it for us, when giving our feedback! It would be a very sad thing if you couldn’t do that for us!
Order ID 203-0095574-8722751:
1 of Large Walk-In Vegetable Cage (4m x 6m) - More Sizes Available [ASIN: B00I7TOGYM]
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We want a full refund on this item. We bought it in May 2017 and most of the aluminium poles have bent and the whole thing collapsed. We paid £318 for this item which is barely 7 months old. Surely it should have lasted longer than this.
Message from 3rd party seller:
Hi Mrs Cornwall,
I'm sorry but we wouldn't be able to offer a refund on this cage because the damage must have been caused by snow or someone actually physically pulling the cage down due to the amount of weight that must have been exerted on the poles to cause the severe bends, this couldn't be caused by wind. The poles are made from 19mm aluminium so need a lot of pressure to actually bend in this way.
We do state the following on Amazon:
"The roof is a separate piece enabling you to easily remove if snow is forecast".
The best solution I can suggest is letting us know what parts are required and we can look at offering you a discount to place them.
Should you have any further queries please feel free to contact us.
The cage was on our vegetable plot at our allotment, we have only had one day of snow just after Christmas nothing to worry about. The last couple of evenings we had some strong gusts of wind, but we didn't think it would cause the cage to collapse as it did. We live in Berkshire our other netted dome cage has no damage at all we have had that one for 3 years. This is why we are very disappointed with what happened to this one. We hope you will be sending us a full refund.
Message from 3rd party seller:
Hi Mrs Cornwall,
Thanks for sending in the images. I haven't actually seen poles bent this badly before. It would take a considerable amount of weight to cause this sort of damage. The only two things I can think which would cause this amount of damage is either snow of someone physically pulling the cage down.
We have had one pole bend on a cage before which has been caused by severe wind damage but never like this.
Did you have a lot of snow over the past few weeks? Where is the cage situated?
Flat 1, 2A The Broadway, Newbury, RG14 1BA 13th. March 2014
On 19th. March 2014, at the meeting of the West Berks Planning Committee, a planning application was granted to Max Wildsmith of Stax Leisure for a sports facility to be built at the site of Newbury Rugby Club. The way in which this situation arose gave those present a variety of causes for concern.
The original application was inextricably linked to one put in by Bloor Homes to demolish Greenacre Sports and Leisure and build houses on the site. The plan was to fund the building of the new sports club (on a like for like basis) from profits made when the houses were sold. Bloor Homes resisted their obligation to include ‘affordable housing’ in their proposal, on the grounds that the plan would be ‘unviable’.
Several issues regarding the procedure of the meeting and the conditions under which this decision was reached were included in a letter that was sent to West Berkshire Council’s Complaints Department, which is reproduced below for your perusal.
The letter received an acknowledgement, but since then, after 10 working days, there has been no response at all. Furthermore, ‘behind closed doors’, it appears that WBC are now going to fund affordable housing on the site of Greenacre Sports and Leisure at Pyle Hill from Council Tax funds. Not long ago, it did the same thing to the tune of £900,000 when the Parkway Development in the town was agreed. These houses remain empty because, apparently, no Housing Association can be found to take them on! I am confident you will agree this is not astute financial management of taxpayers’ money, but that is not part of this complaint. What is under scrutiny is the apparent cavalier attitude taken to following procedure, abiding by the rules and allowing the public the opportunity to strengthen its confidence that the Planning Committee is fit for purpose.
Writing to you is the next step in the Complaints process, and, on behalf of all members of Greenacre (1800 of them!), who may have to wait a year or more for a replacement to be built for them to use, I urge you, please, to look into this matter and help resolve the issues that are raised below, if possible, to re-hear the application, or to call to account those responsible for this travesty! We are over the moon that a brand new sports centre will be coming to Newbury, for our beloved club is being neglected in the meantime. However, despite likely protestations to the contrary, members here have not been properly consulted, and those who have suggested helpful improvements to the original plan, in order to put their full support behind it, have been ignored and derided.
Reference: Applications 13/02581 COMIND and 12/02884/FULEXT
I write on behalf of (SOGGI) members of Greenacre Sports and Leisure, Pyle Hill who were aghast at the way the above applications were dealt with at the Planning Meeting last Wednesday. Below is the text of the complaint that we would like to lodge about it, in the hope that something can be done to rectify the situation, before irreparable damage is done.
Nature of Complaint:
1) Strict Procedure was not followed, for reasons that only became clear as the meeting progressed. Items on the agenda were switched for reasons unknown.
2) The inextricable link between the two applications was severed initially, allowing the granting of Planning Permission for the development at the NRFC site (13/02581). Then the link was re-established after the fate of the NRFC application was decided (on its merits as a standalone application) seemingly to suit.
3) Full details of the legal mechanisms agreed to allow this were not made public. 13/02581 was never a standalone application as it rested on receiving funding from the proceeds of housing to be built on the Pyle Hill site (12/02884), to which there were a large number of very serious concerns and objections raised.
4) The NRFC application was passed unanimously, despite serious errors in the proposal (not like for like), change of purpose (from public to private membership), data collection and analysis (current and predicted usage), time frame being exposed (from seamless transition to a gap of up to 18 months), serious flaws in layout design. (E.g. no appropriate access or viewing/marking gallery for squash; a pool for aquarobic and aquatherapy 5’ 2” deep, instead of 4’ as at present; no appropriate access to changing rooms, to name but 3!)
5) The decision regarding the12/02884 proposal was deferred after very brief and rushed discussion (it was after 10pm!). It was suggested a resolution could be reached without the need for a further public meeting and this seems to have been agreed. The nature of the decision about the proposed housing development is far too significant for it not to be made at a full public hearing.
6) The request for details of any other speakers to the objection, made a week earlier was ignored and only became apparent on the night, via the Update Sheet. Consequently, on the night, the detailed 5 minute speech prepared by both speakers had to be modified without adequate notice, adversely affecting the strength of their case.
7) There was clear evidence that Committee members had not been comprehensibly briefed on the nature of the objections, particularly given the paucity of questions raised.
8) The objections raised by Greenham Parish and Newbury Town Councils were ignored. So, too, were those raised by the LTA, the SRA and the great number of individual members of Greenacre.
9) It was stated on the night that Sport England’s objection to the original plan had been withdrawn, clearly at odds with document 797673.pdf, dated 17th. March 2014, stating that in fact Sport England continued to object to both applications. The misleading statement made by the Planning Officer that it had withdrawn its objection seriously prejudiced and affected the outcome.
There was no way the second application should have been dealt with first.
If planning permission for the demolition of Greenacre and the building of houses was approved, it was to have been on the fundamental basis that:
1) The replacement was genuinely like for like.
2) There was no time lapse between closure of the old and opening of the new.
Had 13/02581 been a ‘standalone’ proposal, fully funded and ready to go, there would have been few grounds upon which to object. In fact the proposal would have represented a welcome addition to facilities available in the Newbury area in general and the Sandleford development in particular.
But it wasn’t.
Without planning permission for the closure of Greenacre and the building of houses, there was no funding at all.
Stax Leisure got Planning Permission free of charge and will make no contribution whatever to the S106 agreement. Hence, that Planning Permission can now be sold to the highest bidder, who will build a new private, members-only facility, independent of Newbury Vision’s Centre of Sporting Excellence, yet in the very centre of it, and then lease it to David Lloyd to run. The attached contains 2 examples of where this has happened before.
This situation is the direct result of the way the Planning Meeting was conducted on 19th. March and we believe that a detailed review of issues arising from the above should be carried out with utmost urgency, before it is too late.
David Mundy, on behalf of the SOGGI campaign group