Best Complaint Letter Ever! Debra Jarvis takes on a Cookie Company--

My friend (and author of It's Not About the Hair: And Other Certainties of Life and Cancer -- an incredible memoir by the way) Debra Jarvis did not appreciate her Paterson Arran cookies were not exactly what the wrapper said they would be.

Now here's a way to write a complaint letter!   By the way, Debra *loves* chocolate, so you can imagine her disappointment when the cookie was not exactly satisfying...

Here's what she wrote:

Note: You will need to know that on the wrapper it reads, "Contains no palm oil, pork or alcohol."

Dear Paterson-Arran,

Just ate your Bronte doubly choc chip biscuits which you describe as “bursting with choc chips.” Let’s discuss your definition of “bursting.” 

Mine: Dolly Parton in a 34B bikini top, Barack Obama on knowing Osama Bin Laden was dead, but having to keep quiet for a while; King Henry VIII (RIP) in thong underwear. 

Yours as evidenced by your “doubly choc chip biscuit:” rocks scattered on a concrete driveway; fingernail clippings on the bathroom floor; hair pins on the floor of a car after a heavy make-out session. 

In other words I’m afraid you use “bursting” when you really mean “scattered.” After a meal of chicken w/risotto, half cup salad, dinner roll, butter, Jacob’s cracker, cheese, every one of which seemed to live up to it’s hype—meaning none—we have your final biscuit as dessert and it was such a let down. 

Perhaps it was the eight hour flight from Entebbe to Amsterdam. Perhaps it is the false hope I carry for abundance on the flight from Amsterdam to Seattle that makes your biscuit such a crushing disappointment to me. 

It is crispy. It is crunchy. “Bursting” it is not. 

My suggestion: add more chocolate chips! A biscuit such as yours should be nothing but a vehicle for chocolate chips. And I’m sure you can do this without bringing in any palm oil, pork or alcohol. 

If this suggestion is not agreeable to you, perhaps you would consider a name change that is a bit more straight forward and to the point: Super Crunchy Crispy Chocolately Biscuit! Just the facts, ma’am. 

Thank you for your time and attention. 

Best regards, 

Debra Jarvis 
KLM/Delta flight #233

Dear Debra,

You are right. Thank you so much for taking the time to write so thoughtfully and wittily. If it wasn't for the fact that I'm so sorry our biscuits disappointed you so, reading your email would have been more of a joy.
After a little reflection I see your point exactly and we'll address this immediately. For this particular product line I can't heap more choc chips in I'm afraid, but the text on the pack will change as you suggest - maybe not in time for your next flight on Delta #233 but it will change. 
We do offer a wide range of other products and, by way of thank you, I'd be happy to send you some if you wish - just let me have a postal address. Maybe you could let me know if I've got some other stuff wrong!
Thanks once more.
Kind Regards,
Allan Miller
Sales and Marketing Director


I love that Allan Miller of their sales department wrote back with such a nice (and not form-letter email).  Personally, I think Debra should work in someone's marketing department as the wrappers of cookies would be MUCH more interesting!

Check out Debra Jarvis's blog here.  She's a fantastic woman and a fantastic writer, as you can see!



  1. I so enjoyed her letter and I appreciate Allan Miller. I like your idea of Debra getting paid real money for wrapper copy, but, in the meantime, getting paid in cookies is good, too!

    OK, I have to share today's verification word: phoomago

  2. That's a wonderful complaint letter, critical but with good-natured levity. And a classy response letter.

    I hope that the recompense cookies were delicious and her subsequent biscuit experiences were bursting with chocolate.

    Thanks for sharing this fun letter with us. It's a good reminder that, if you're going to write something, it ought to be written with style. :-)

  3. The whole time I'm reading Debra's letter I'm thinking, OMG this is funny. What could the company possibly say in response?

    Obviously they had two choices; say nothing or regrettably you are humorously correct. The response letter clearly a testimonial to Debra’s wit and writing skill.

    Much enjoyed your post!

  4. That letter was so fantastic that I had to go take a peek at her blog. Now, I will try to remember her advice to go through life: "as if you live with a small dog or as if you are in an art museum."

  5. Kell, darling,

    First: thanks for the repost! You are so kind.

    Second: cookies are on the way and I'll let you know how they are! Can you believe it?

    Much love and hugs,


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