The Committee on Relations with Information Vendors (CRIV) has drawn up a collection of sample letters which law librarians can use as a guide for their own correspondence with publishers. The language can be used verbatim, or tailored to fit specific circumstances. Often a streamlined version of these letters will produce the desired result. Sample letters are provided below.
Time Savers - You don't have to take the time to write an original letter for most problem correspondence. Try doing the following:
- Have on file preprinted letters for the most common forms of correspondence, such as cancellations, unsolicited material or routine returns. Then you can simply fill in the blanks and mail.
- Keep templates in your word processing program which you can edit and print.
Suggestions - CRIV suggests that in communicating with information vendors, librarians do the following:
- Check all the facts available to you in-house, including library and accounts payable records and the recollections of library and accounting staff who have worked on the matter.
- Gather all documentation and use it in your communications. Crucial information to include would be account and invoice numbers.
- Use at least two forms of communication. Send a letter by mail and by fax, email, contact your local sales representative (when appropriate) as well as customer service.
- Try to address your correspondence to a specific individual or position title, if you are able to ascertain the name or position of the person in the vendor's organization most likely to be able to solve your problem.
- Keep the tone of the communication objective. It is possible to tell a company that you have been inconvenienced and that you would like the problem to be corrected without getting personal or sarcastic (as tempting as it may be).
- Keep copies of all correspondence, with the most recent on top. This includes email.
- Take notes on all phone conversations with customer service reps and sales reps. Note the date, time, the name of the rep, questions asked and answered and any promised action.
- Consider keeping a publisher log. This is a master record of conversations, correspondence and decisions made in regard to a particular vendor situation.
- Allow for time for a company to sort out a problem. Two weeks is not unreasonable, unless the problem is severe or has been unresolved in the past.
- Allow for the possibility that correspondence may get lost (see "Using at least two forms of communication", above) or simple human error may occur.
- CRIV has observed that written correspondence tends to get more satisfactory results than phone calls.