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Monday, February 07, 2011

Form Letter Madness

I sit down to write today having just finished packing up four Ligne Bretagnes for shipment.  As tends to be the case, a couple are going to new buyers and a couple are going to repeat buyers.  I like the mix.  It's good to have repeat buyers, but at the same time, one does not want to end up selling everything to the same handful of collectors.  It does, however, spur me to post about a Talbert quirk that has been developing for some time.

Anyone who has bought from us in recent years will probably recognize this:

Enclosed you should find your pipe, its bag, and this letter. I hope you will like the pipe, and that it will smoke well for you. Please let me know if you have any problems with it. We guarantee our work, so if there is anything you don't like about it, you can return it for a full refund (prior to smoking), within the period of a week after it arrives. Thank you very much for the business, and we appreciate your interest in our work!

That's our basic form letter that I include with every pipe so people can know what to expect, what the return policies are, and to provide a signed "Thank you" for every purchase.  This is all well and good.  Then, as usual, it began to get silly...

I'm not sure exactly when the trend started, but some time a year or two ago, I was getting ready to print out yet another form letter to a fellow who'd already bought probably eight or ten pipes from us.  I figured, "He knows this by now", and included some random add-in comment about, "This box includes your pipe, its bag, yadda yadda, and this same freaking form letter". Doing this established a precedent, and it's grown since then.  It tends to start small...  After someone's fourth or fifth pipe, they might start to see small alterations in the form letter text.  This can progress to random inserted comments, Lovecraftian verse, quotes from Quint in "Jaws", and eventually escalate all the way to this sort of thing:
Where will it end?  Who knows.  Where is it going?  Probably on to start including bits of Talbert doodles, sketches, riddles, freebies, and who knows what else.  How many pipes do I have to buy before this stuff starts?  I'll never tell.  Too many, probably.  Enough so that I finally reach the point of thinking, "He's read this so many times that even including the text is pointless, beyond saying 'Thank you for the business'".  Will these signed letters start becoming collectible alongside their matching pipes?  No collector would be that crazy.  Would he? 
Thank you ALL for the business, and we appreciate your interest in our work!