Tuesday, May 15, 2007

medical equipment donation

I got a lead into a place in San Francisco, CFHI, that will accept the leftover home medical supplies. Friday afternoon I wrote an email describing what I had, and asking "Where do I go to get them to you?"

Today I received a form letter email from Harini Krishnan, which included the line "We would be delighted to accept all the supplies that you would like to donate that you mentioned in your email." This was the only line that seemed like a personal response to my message. In addition to it being rather ungrammatical, it was bolded and underlined, apparently so it would stand out from the lengthy rest of it (83 lines/440 words) which was largely irrelevant. As I said, a form letter.

It continued on with "If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, and you would like to drop off your donation directly to the CFHI office, kindly let me know so that I can send you information about our office times, directions and parking."

Well... I thought I had said exactly that: "Where do I go to get them to you?" Already annoyed by the long form letter, I fired off a message saying Yes, this is what I said, and I would rather people read my letter and reply to the questions in it.

This led to a few salvos back and forth between me and Harini wherein I maintained it was rude and disrespectful to a potential donor to not bother actually reading what they had to say. Harini maintained s/he had been extremely polite and it was I was not. And my message was apparently unclear to Harini:
in your email you said "Where do I go to get them to you?" NOT that you lived in the Bay Area or that you wanted to drop off the donation.

Hello? Could 'Where do I go to get them to you?' be interpreted any other way than saying 'I have a donation that I want to drop off'?

In any case, Harini concluded with:
CFHI is a small organization with a small staff. I am a parttime employee working for 12 hours a week answering 250 enquiries a week. It is difficult to offer a personal response to every email. Your email to me was offensive, rude and bitter. We refuse the right to accept donations from individuals like yourself only interested in finding faults with small organizations like ours rather than truly
helping a worthy cause. CFHI has more than 250 donors who are more than happy with the gratitude and respect with which we treat them.

Whine, whine, whine. (And what is this "we refuse the right to accept"? It should be "we reserve the right to refuse." Major Freudian slip here, Hariri. This, I believe, explains why s/he uses form letters to communicate and didn't understand when actual people write actual words.)

At this point I emailed VIDA, a similar international agency but even smaller than CFHI. I deliberately worded my message the same as my message to CFHI. Within 4 hours I had a four-line reply:
Thank you for your donation. Attached you will find a list of items that we accept. Attached are directions to the VIDA warehouse as well. Thank you for all of your support.

Clear, competent, fast, brief but polite, no problems understanding me. They get my donation.

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