Click Here to Return to Index

Click Here to Return to Milestones

The Customer is Always Right?

Milestones Vol 35 No. 1

While looking through the Townsend Company papers located in our archives, we came across an interesting complaint letter from one of their customers written in August of 1918. At the time, the Townsend Company, located in present day Fallston, was a large manufacturer of rivets and other metal products that employed nearly 1,000 workers. Apparently, a Mr. Antonio Dutra of Youngstown, Ohio had ordered a keg of burrs and rivets from Townsend to be delivered to his address in Youngstown, Ohio, but upon opening the keg, he found burrs but no rivets. For those of us unacquainted with the process of riveting, a burr is the washer like end piece into which a rivet is placed and then mashed together to hold the rivet in place. A good example of this can be found on a pair of modern day blue jeans.

Interestingly enough, after ten days of waiting, Mr. Dutra found the missing rivets in the bottom of the keg where they had been the entire time and even admitted that on the bottom of his letter. Yet, instead of rewriting the letter to indicate that the rivets were no longer missing, he still sent the entire letter, complaint and all! Apparently, in this case, the customer admitted that he was not always right!

We have left the spelling and punctuation as written to preserve the flavor of Mr. Dutra's letter:

Yungstown, O. 20, Aug. 1918
Tonsend Co.
Noo Brighton, Penny.
Dear Frens.
I get the burrs which I by from, you alright but why for gods sake you doan send no rivets. Wats the use a burr when she don have no rivet. I loose to my customer shure thing you don treat me right i wrote 10 days ago and my curtomers they holler like hell for goods so wat i goan do when burrs he got no rivets send me the rivets quick if you don i send her beck and I go order from the pitsberg screws and belt company.
Your truly
Antonio Dutra

Since i rite i fine the goddam rivets in keg excuse to me.