General Instructions: In this activity, you will write a series of business letters in response to a scenario. You will need to decide upon the appropriate type of letter, and compose a message which is appropriate for the circumstances described in each phase of the scenario. You will need to exercise judgment regarding the information to include in (and exclude from) your messages. In some cases, the scenario may not provide all of the information necessary and you may need to create and add information.
Your letters will be assessed upon the selection of the correct letter type for the situation, the correct physical formatting of your letter, the use of an appropriate rhetorical strategy for each situation, the inclusion of appropriate information, and adherence to the rules of grammar, usage, spelling, and punctuation.
You are Wesley Freed of 347 S. Skagway Boulevard, Taconite Park, MN 55814, phone (218) 555-8669. Yesterday, after you finished the laundry, you found a large pool of water under your washing machine, a Vortex TurboAgitator. You thought it might be just a loose or broken hose, and so, armed with a roll of electrician’s tape, you set out to save a few bucks by doing it yourself.
You were not pleased to discover that the cause of the problem was actually a large crack in the water pump housing.1
The pump has TSP608443X95 stamped on it. The machine has two pre-soak settings and four wash cycles, and the faceplate also states that it has a Power-Lint-Eject feature.
You have recalled that the machine has a warranty, but after searching for an hour, you haven’t been able to locate the warranty documents. You know you bought it in 2018 (it’s now February 2021), but you can’t remember what month or how long the warranty was supposed to last.
Since you already have the machine torn apart, you decide that you should try to obtain and install a replacement pump yourself. You decide to write to the company, but you don’t know their address, or the name of anyone to contact at the company. The faceplate on the machine says the manufacturer is Vortex Appliance Corporation of Saugatuck Falls, NE 68136.
Write to Vortex Appliance to find out if a replacement pump is available if the company will install it for you or you must do it yourself, how much it will cost, and if the cost will be covered by the warranty.
NOTE: 1–In order to empty the tub of water at the end of each cycle, an automatic clothes washer has a pump which looks similar to a hand-held hair dryer (except that it has rubber hoses attached to what would be the handle and nozzle of a hair dryer). The pump has an internal moving piece called an impeller which is almost identical to the piece in a hair dryer which pulls air in and blows it out. The pump housing on the water pump is almost identical to the outer shell of the hair dryer.
You are Lisa Hayakawa, head of the Consumer Service Division of Vortex Appliance Corporation (One Thoroughly Modern Mile, Saugatuck Falls, NE 68136 ( 555-9300). You have just received Wesley Freed’s letter.
You are perplexed because a cracked pump housing is a rare problem. It is usually the result of severe mishandling by the delivery people or the consumer. But this is the fifth case of a cracked pump housing in a TurboAgitator which you’ve seen in
the past four months.
The part number supplied by Mr. Freed, TSP608443X96, does not correspond to anything in your inventory control system. Fortunately, all of the machines in the TurboAgitator series use the same water pump—model TA-1140.
Unfortunately, there are no TA-1140 pumps in stock. They are on back-order and are already 20 days overdue. After repeated contacts, the supplier has promised delivery within the next 10 days.
However, another pump model, the TA-1245, which is currently available in your inventory, can be used—with modifications. The TA-1245 is designed for use in a commercial machine (the TripleAgitator), so its pumping capacity is 30% greater than that of the model TA-1140. This means that it will not compromise the performance or damage any of the other parts of the consumer’s TurboAgitator. BUT the TA-1245 has an additional discharge tube which would not be connected in the TurboAgitator and would have to be plugged. You’ve checked with the Engineering Department, and they estimate that a factory-installed plug in the tube should function without leaking for at least two years under normal conditions
You’ve also checked the warranty database and found that Mr. Freed bought his
machine in November 2018, and that the warranty period is 24 months from date
of purchase. (It is now February 2021.)
The cost figures for the two pumps are:
Your Purchase Cost
(What you pay your supplier)
(What you charge repair shops)
(What you charge consumers)
The Vortex Appliance Company’s gross profit on the sale of one complete TurboAgitator washing machine is $75.00.
Decide what options you can offer to Wesley Freed. Will you provide him with a
modified TA- 1245? At what cost? For how long? Will you advise him to wait till the
TA- 1140 comes in?
Then write a letter to Mr. Freed in which you explain your inventory situation and offer
him two or more alternative solutions.
You are still Lisa Hayakawa. Freed’s pump failure could be the tip of an iceberg. Five pump failures in four months is a disturbing trend, and could be the result of a widespread manufacturing defect at your supplier, Tidal Surge Pump Company.
Do the Quality Control people at Tidal Surge know about a problem? Are they covering it up? Or are they unaware that there may be a problem? In either event, the problem needs to be addressed. Tidal Surge needs to investigate whether something in their manufacturing process is creating defective pumps, and if so, how many hundreds or thousands of pumps may be out there in the marketplace, on the verge of failure? If the number is large, both Vortex and Tidal Surge could be facing a major product recall. How will the costs of such a recall be shared?
And in any event, the five failures so far are cutting into profits at Vortex, and you’d like to be reimbursed for the cost of Freed’s pump.
Compose a letter to Stanley Jaworski, Vice-President for Manufacturing, Tidal Surge Pump Company, 1000 Industrial Boulevard, Telluride, CO 81435. State your concerns about the possibility of manufacturing problems at Tidal Surge and the possible implications of a large scale product recall. Include Freed’s defective pump, which you have now obtained from him, for Jaworski’s Quality Control staff to examine, and ask for reimbursement for the defective pump.
You are Stanley Jaworski, Vice-President for Manufacturing at Tidal Surge Pump Company. Lisa Hayakawa of the Consumer Service division at Vortex Appliance has notified you of Wesley Freed’s problem and forwarded his broken water pump to you. In checking Mr. Freed’s warranty record, she has learned that his TurboAgitator was manufactured in December 2009 using a pump manufactured by Tidal Surge.
Vortex Appliance believes that the pump failure is due to a manufacturing error or defect on the part of Tidal Surge, and they want to be reimbursed for the cost of the pump. And if an examination of the pump reveals a manufaturing problem that has led to the production of a large number of defective pumps, Ms. Hayakawa wants you to propose a plan for Tidal Surge and Vortex to handle any necessary product recalls.
So you have sent Freed’s pump to your engineering department for examination, and you have now received their inspection report. They have found a small screw wedged between the pump’s impeller and the inner wall of the pump housing [See Note 1 in Phase 1]. The pressure of the moving impeller upon the screw as it was caught between the impeller and the pump housing was so great that it cracked the pump housing. Most importantly, the screw is a type that is only used on wood and is not used anywhere in the Tidal Surge factory.
From the position in which the screw is wedged, the engineers have determined that it entered the pump by traveling down the intake hose, which is usually connected to a faucet in the customer’s laundry sink. It is impossible to know how such a screw would have gotten inside of the hose. You can only speculate that the hose was disconnected while Freed’s laundry area was remodeled, and the screw fell into the hose by accident. Or perhaps his children put the screw in the hose as an experiment or a prank. But you can say confidently that the problem occurred after the pump left your factory and is not the fault of a manufacturing problem at Tidal Surge.
Write a letter to Ms. Hayakawa in which you refuse her request for a refund, and respond to her concerns about a wide-scale manufacturing problem at Tidal Surge. The letter should contain the elements indicated for an adjustment refusal letter in our textbook. And as before, writing an effective letter will involve selecting which facts and figures to give her and which are not relevant to her concerns.