Writing Tip #3.14: Dialogue must avoid debate

Fedex: How can I help you?

McPhed: I have a complaint.

Fedex: Do you have a tracking number?

McPhed: 8049 2194 2550

Fedex: 8149–

McPhed: (Tersely) 8049 2194 2550

Fedex: Okay, yes. (Pause) What can I do for you, sir?

McPhed: Do you see the record of the account?

Fedex: Yes, sir.

McPhed: You see that package was returned to the sender and that the contents of the package were spoiled?

Fedex: I apologize for the inconvenience.

McPhed: I don’t want an apology.

Fedex: I’m sorry to hear that.

McPhed: What are you going to do about this?

Fedex: You’ve filed a complaint.

McPhed: I’ve filed three complaints.

Fedex: I’m sorry for the inconvenience, sir.

McPhed: Stop apologizing.

Long pause.

McPhed: I’d like to speak with a manager.

Fedex: One moment, sir.

Music plays. Phone clicks. Phone goes dead. McPhedran calls back.

Fedex: How can I help you?

McPhed: I would like to speak your manager.

Fedex: Can I assist you, sir?

McPhed: You hung up on me. I want to speak with your manager.

Fedex: I apologize for any inconvenience.

Long pause.

McPhed: Hello?

Fedex: Yes, sir?

McPhed: I would like to speak your manager.

Fedex: I need a tracking number, sir.

McPhed: Do you have any idea how many times I’ve called Fedex?

Fedex: I’m sorry for the inconvenience, sir.

McPhed: Is that all you people know how to do? Apologize?

Fedex: I’m sorry for the inconvenience, sir.

McPhed: I would like to talk your manager.

Fedex: One moment.

Music plays. Phone clicks. Phone goes dead. McPhedran calls back.

Fedex: How can I help you?

McPhed: You’ve hung up on me twice now.

Fedex: I’m sorry for the inconvenience, sir.

McPhedran replies with a series of expletives. Long Pause.

McPhed: Is there anyone who will address my concern?

Fedex: What is the problem, sir?

McPhed: You were supposed to deliver a package. You failed to do that and the contents of the package were ruined.

Fedex: I’m sorry for the inconvenience, sir.

McPhed: Forget the apologies. It’s a business. That’s why I am calling you. You failed to do what you said you would do.

Fedex: We cannot give you any financial compensation, sir.

McPhed: You let nine pounds of smoked salmon rot in your warehouse. That’s your responsibility.

Fedex: We do not assume liability for the contents of the package.

McPhed: What do you assume liability for?

Fedex: We cannot give you any financial compensation, sir. I’m sorry.

McPhed: How many times do I have to tell you to stop apologizing?

Fedex: Okay, I won’t do that again. (Pause) Is there anything else?

McPhed: What else could there possibly be?

Long Pause. McPhedran hangs up.

3 thoughts on “Writing Tip #3.14: Dialogue must avoid debate

  1. Ten days later…

    Date/Time
    Activity Location
    11/17/2014 – Monday
    7:36 pm Delivered NEW YORK, NY
    9:33 am At local FedEx facility VANCOUVER, BC
    11/16/2014 – Sunday
    11:24 am At local FedEx facility VANCOUVER, BC
    11/15/2014 – Saturday
    11:17 am At local FedEx facility VANCOUVER, BC
    11/14/2014 – Friday
    8:53 am At local FedEx facility VANCOUVER, BC
    11/13/2014 – Thursday
    6:24 pm At local FedEx facility VANCOUVER, BC
    12:40 pm Held at FedEx location for recipient pickup VANCOUVER, BC
    Package available for pickup at FedEx Office: 1900 WEST BROADWAY AVE
    10:56 am At local FedEx facility RICHMOND, BC
    Tendered at FedEx Office
    8:04 am Delivery exception RICHMOND, BC
    Rerouted to revised delivery address
    11/12/2014 – Wednesday
    7:26 am At local FedEx facility RICHMOND, BC
    11/10/2014 – Monday
    7:11 am At local FedEx facility RICHMOND, BC
    11/08/2014 – Saturday
    9:18 am At local FedEx facility RICHMOND, BC
    11/07/2014 – Friday
    6:06 pm At local FedEx facility RICHMOND, BC
    3:31 pm Picked up VANCOUVER, BC
    Tendered at FedEx Office
    3:31 pm Picked up VANCOUVER, BC
    3:31 pm At local FedEx facility VANCOUVER, BC

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