International Telegram Co. to a Disgruntled Customer, 1874

This fuckin' thing... What was wrong with pen and paper?

Dear Mr. Ventross,

Thank you for contacting our offices of technical assistance. We are most concerned with your difficulties, as well as those difficulties of our other valued customers. This is why our offices of technical assistance are open weekdays, excluding Thursdays, from ten o’clock AM to 12 noon, September through May. Please feel free to have your people contact us during these most convenient times.

You stated that your International Telegram Transmitter Device, model A-12, sticks and makes a bizarre clicking noise “like that made by the bush cricket of the western plains on a warm night in Spring.” One’s first question in these situation must always be thus: Has the gentlemen tried turning the device to its non-powered state, then renewing it to its active state? Many issues with our devices are most easily solved in this fashion.

If this most simple of solutions does not solve your issue with the device, please try removing piece P, also known as the copper transmitting wire part B, and replacing it with a piece of copper wire most easily obtained from your local general store. As per the terms of your warranty, please do send us the bill via registered mail and we will reimburse you the cost up to $0.25. I’d imagine it would need to be spun of gold rather than copper for the piece to exceed this amount!

To solve the clicking issue, please apply lubricant to Joint P. This is a known issue with the device, which we at International Telegram Co. are most embarrassed about allowing into our designs. The 1875 model will be much improved in this capacity. Our deepest apologies for any children kept awake or ladies startled by the infernal clicking of Joint P.

If you have any more queries about your device, please do not hesitate to contact myself via telegram or Pony Express.

Yours most humbly,

Cornelius Grafton Jones

Customer Specialist and Deliverist, International Telegram Co.


Known today as the Father of Customer Service, Cornelius Grafton Jones rose from humble origins. He grew up in a small village outside of Boston, called Wherethefuckareyouguyslocated. As a child, he was often teased by his 14 siblings, who would taunt him by calling him an idiot and asking him if he even went to college.

Perhaps as a result of these comments, Jones did go to college. He graduated from Harvard College in 1873 with a degree in Philosophy. After several attempts to become a practicing philosopher–including an ill-fated attempt to describe free will as something unique to the French–a broke Jones obtained a position at the International Telegram Company thanks to an uncle who worked in the engineering department.

Jones struggled to enjoy his position as a technical assistant. He didn’t really understand how telegram machines worked and on some level, believed it was magic. Eventually he realized that only one person did understand how telegrams worked and he was always busy.  Rather than get real answers for customers’ problems, Jones started writing form letters to customers, using complicated language so nobody would know that the information was bogus.

Prior to this moment, companies had argued that “the salesman is always right.” But Jones perfected a firm yet sympathetic tone, claiming to always put the “customer first.” He called himself a “servant of the customer.” After a few years, he began to truly believe the lies he was spouting. He quit his job at International Telegram and began a consultancy to help other companies develop “Customer Service” departments, which is believed to have led to the outbreak of World War I. 


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