Thank-you notes: your mom was right

I alluded to this tale earlier and decided now was as good a time as any to give the full scoop.  It just goes to show that there is indeed power in a thank-you note, and that sometimes it’s worthwhile to send a note to a vendor or company you’re happy with.  Usually, we only contact a company when we have a complaint.

About six years ago I went through a nasty divorce with my local cable company.  Let’s just say it started with the near-destruction of a harddrive while installing cable internet and went downhill from there.  By the end I even had a vengeful GM of the local cable cabal personally call me to tell me he had reversed a rep’s earlier decision to reinstate my cable after it had been disconnected.

As we were moving in about six months, we decided to just go without until our next place and then give satellite a try (See?  I’ve done the no-TV thing).  I was shocked to find that my DirecTV install was quick, courteous, and went off without a hitch.  When I made the activation call, it blew my mind that a live human being answered within three rings, and I didn’t have to be transferred umpteen times.

After a few weeks, I was aglow about getting more channels and a clearer picture for less money.  Everything about my experience was surpassing the admittedly low expectations that years of cable has instilled in me.  So on a lark, I sent DirecTV an email.  It was really just a sincere note letting them know that they were doing a good job, and a lighthearted bit where I took a few cathartic digs at my old cable company.  I hit ‘send’ and went on with my day.

Fast-forward about a year later, and I get an email from a PR firm claiming to represent DirecTV.  They wanted to use my email as a part of their “Fan Letter” ad campaign, which consisted of various celebrities doing dramatic readings of customer letters, followed by some light riffing by the spokesperson.  I said “sure”, signed and faxed a doc or two, and they paid me $500 for the rights.  To an email.  That I sent a year earlier.  They were even nice enough to send me a CD of the commercial (mine was radio only).

The lesson was clear — mom knew what she was talking about when she made you write those thank-you letters.  I’d love to hear any other stories about companies that reward those who take the time to say nice things.

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