Writing: Parts of a business letter

in-nuce.com parts of a business letter

Sometimes in the course of human events, it becomes necessary to write an old-fashioned business letter.
Keep it focused, keep it real, and be as detailed as possible without running on and on. It goes without saying that your tone, even when forcefully voicing a concern, is respectful.

Heading (Sender address)--> 460 Milton Lane, Paradise 83316
Date --> December 31, 2013
Mr. Big Guy <-- Use a real name here
Director, Customer Care 
<-- Title
Delta Airlines, Inc. <-- Inside address (Recipient address)
1030 Delta Blvd.
Atlanta, GA 30354-1989
Dear Mr. Big Guy  <-- Salutation
I appreciate the rote condolences from your good-natured, patient employees, but it does little to mitigate the tremendous headache your ponderous lost luggage claim system creates. I like Delta (more importantly, my husband, the Diamond Medallion guy, likes Delta), and we both think your service is most areas is great.
Your scans tell us that my bag, which contained everything I needed for our ten-day trip (except a pair of pajamas that was in another suitcase), actually made it to JFK, where it disappeared from the carousel. Our friendly suggestion, then: As an airline, please institute some form of security in major airports like JFK. You used to check baggage tickets as people walked out with luggage. The fact that the small print in the claim form says you report lost luggage to the FBI indicates that you know some major scams are going on out there. The circumstances surrounding our lost bag are probably not unique.
That said, this is how I filled out your incredibly detailed claim report:
  1. Over the phone I gave your agent a list of missing items, including brands, colors, and styles. You already have all that information as part of our file.
  2. There is NO WAY I know on what date I bought missing items or how much I paid for them, and seriously, it is a moot point, since the only important information is how much it is going to cost to replace them ($610.85 to be exact). Therefore I pulled a recent date out of the air (I discussed this with two separate agents, who told me, “do the best you can”), and for cost I put the real replacement costs of each item.
  3. NO, I don’t have my boarding passes. I’m a hoarder, but I have standards. No one told us to keep the boarding passes: not the man to whom we first reported the lost bag, not the agent who called and asked for detailed information about what was in the bag. Nor do I have my ticket. We did keep, of course, the luggage ticket stub, and we have a copy of the email receipt of our ticket reservation.
  4. I added New York (8.875%) and Idaho (6%) state sales taxes to each item cost when applicable.
  5. I didn’t include some items in the online report. My beautiful, classy, burgundy bathrobe is gone, but I’ve got another at home that’s okay. Ditto Airborne and multiple vitamins—I’m going to live without replacing them.
  6. When shopping, I was not able to replace apples with apples. It was the week before Christmas at Atlantic Center in Brooklyn; I was shopping at discount stores, it was a mad house, and the merchandise still on the racks and not on the floor was all picked over. My final shopping was in Idaho at another discount store, and again, items were picked over and selection was limited. So, for instance, I had to replace a warm vest with a light jacket; I replaced a turtleneck sweater with a scoop neck sweater. I replaced two $25 Olive garden gift certificates with one $50 Applebee’s gift certificate, etc. For simplicitys sake, in my online report, I kept each item name the same since there is no place in your form to make comments to note discrepancies. Bottom line, I tried really hard to match item with like item, and it took a lot of my time.
  7. Which leads me to the bottom, bottom line: my time. After getting up at 5 am, traveling all day, and arriving at our daughters home at 7 pm, my husband and I had to spend another three hours of chaotic traveling and shopping time to buy toiletry stuff. I spent the next half day buying clothes (over 40 minutes in line at one store—poor me). Once it became apparent my bag was not going to show up, my husband and I went out the day before Christmas and bought a discount replacement roller bag, so rather than littering my daughter’s end tables, I had something to put my stuff in. I spent another half day after I got home buying the last replacement items. Finally, it has taken me ALL day to fill out your form, ask questions of your agents, scan the items you asked for, make a pdf of the file, and write this sweet letter. So really you owe me a gazillion dollars in lost time and seriously compromised quality of life (see First World problems here).
 Think thats all. Looking forward to a quick resolution to this luggage snafu. Meanwhile, I truly wish you and yours a very happy and peaceful New Year.
Respectfully,  <--Closing
Lost Luggage Lulu  <-- Signature

And a reminder that lost luggage will be with us always (from The Correct Guide to Letter Writing, by Member of the Aristocracy):

in-nuce.com parts of a business letter 2 Update:  Rapid Response

January 3, 2014
Ms. Lost Luggage Lulu
460 Milton Lane
Paradise, ID 83316-5103

Delta File 12345678

Dear Ms. Lulu:

Please accept our apologies for the mishandling of your luggage on your return to New York on December 18, 2013. We certainly recognize the trouble this caused and regret the occurrence.

An extensive search, both electronic and physical, was conducted in an effort to locate your bag. Unfortunately, however, we must report that that search yielded no positive results.

Our check in the amount of, $710.86, representing the value of the items listed on your claim form will be mailed under separate cover. You should receive it within the next ten business days.

We appreciate your choice of Delta to provide your air transportation and look forward to serve you, once again, on board one of our flights.


Mr. Big
Claims Manager
Consumer Affairs Baggage
Delta Air Lines

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