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Departments: First Word


Questionable Correspondence
I really do read all the mail I receive.

Scott Paton

During my 19 years at Quality Digest, I’ve fielded countless questions, comments, complaints, compliments and rants about the magazine and quality in general. Some of these have been insightful, some stupid (I really don’t know a nicer way to say it), some humorous and some downright mean.

As e-mail became the medium of choice for business communication in the last decade, the amount of communication I receive has grown exponentially. Unfortunately, the ease of sending off an e-mail has also increased the number of silly, bizarre, ranting and mean-spirited letters to the editor that I receive. To demonstrate, here are some answers to a few of the questions that I’ve received. (I chose not to include the original questions, but I think you’ll get the gist of the communications from my responses.)

“I’m sorry that you feel that way about ISO 9000; however, it’s anatomically impossible for me to insert the standard into the orifice you suggested. I suggest you forward your comments to the ISO Central Secretariat in Geneva.”

“It’s unfortunate that you found our ISO 9000 Registrar Customer Satisfaction Survey so upsetting. However, I don’t respond well to threats of lawsuits. Have your attorney call my attorney.”

“I’m sorry that you found our cover story on quality in the U.S. Postal Service to be ‘ridiculous.’ There are many fine women and men working hard to improve the quality of postal service. In addition, I must apologize for the delay in responding to your letter. It was delayed due to insufficient postage.”

“Yes, it was ironic that one week after our cover story on union-management cooperation at Eastern Airlines was published, the airline was forced to shut down due to a labor strike.”

“You are correct. I have never been employed as a quality professional.”

“Ouch! I understand that you found the two typos in our latest issue to be representative of less-than-perfect quality, but ‘idiotic,’ ‘moronic’ and ‘dumb ass’ aren’t representative of very good etiquette either.”

“Thanks for the apology. It’s easy to forget that real people read those e-mailed letters to the editor.”

“Thanks for your input. However, I prefer to spell the word you indicated that I misspelled the way Webster’s New World Dictionary suggests it should be spelled.”

“I can’t speak for Dr. Juran. The comments he made about ISO 9000 are his own.”

“I can’t speak for Dr. Juran. The comments he made about Dr. Deming are his own.”

“I’m sorry that you found our name change to Quality Digest [from Quality Circle Digest] to be upsetting. It was part of an effort to cover the broader world of quality. I’m sure that we will continue to cover quality circles in every issue.”

“No. We don’t publish poetry.”

“I’m sorry that you found the misspelled word in one of advertisers’ ads to be representative of less-than-perfect quality. However, I suggest you forward your comments to that advertiser. We don’t produce the ads; we just publish them.”

“That’s really very flattering. However, my wife probably wouldn’t like that very much.”

Keep those letters coming. I really do enjoy reading them. However, you might want to read your letter a second time before hitting the send button. E-mail me at letters@qualitydigest.com.