Acme Computer Center
You are the manager of Acme Computer Center. In this morning’s mail you received the following letter:
|62 S.E. 219th Street
Hillsboro, OR 97123
April 24, 2015
Acme Computer Center
2533 TV Highway
Hillsboro, OR 97123
As the president of the Mesa Elementary School PTA, I have been appointed to ask you a special favor that will help us and give you and ACME a positive image in the City.
As you know, the recent cutbacks in funds for education have left all public schools short of cash. Mesa Elementary, a magnet school for the most intellectually gifted students in the Washington County area, is faced with such a tight budget that we may need to let two teachers go. Obviously, we are not in a position to purchase computers, which you will agree are an essential part of contemporary education. Many of our students are from economically disadvantaged homes, and thus they will not become computer literate at home. We certainly don’t want to graduate them educationally as well as economically disadvantaged, and so we would like you to help us out.
Last month ACME installed six microcomputers in a special showroom so that prospective customers might try them at their leisure. I have noticed that the showroom is little used on Sunday afternoon. Would you allow our students (well supervised, of course) to use the showroom computers from 1-5 on Sundays? We believe that everyone would benefit: our gifted students, who would learn computer fundamentals; ACME, that would be seen as contributing to the education of local students; and ultimately our fractured community, which would be drawn together in a common task. We look forward to your answer to our request.
Mary Tavanner, President
Mesa Elementary PTA
You think that the request has much merit, and as store manager you’d like to help these families. However, you do not want to set a precedent by letting the children use the showroom computers. Write a denial to Mary Tavanner. Provide a convincing explanation as to why they can’t visit the showroom and offer a reasonable alternative so they will get some computer experience. Use the problem solving template as you consider your response
follow these instructions:
Bad News Cases
“Bad news” cases provide a good way to exercise the mental muscles necessary to place solutions over problems and to choose positive words over negative ones. Responding to bad news cases will help you understand one of the most important features of good technical writing–seeing things from your reader’s perspective. These writing assignments challenge you to share sensitive information with a reader–a “no” to a request or a criticism of behavior–while maintaining your reader’s good will. How to do this? Solve your reader’s problem.
The main objective of these assignments is to provide a solution to your reader’s problems. Sometimes this entails offering and providing an alternative to their preferred solution. Often it means helping them to a solution you cannot provide.
The First Step
The first step in providing a solution in a “bad news” letter (or ANY technical document) is to determine the reader’s problem. To do this you have to put yourself in the reader’s place. What would you want or need in the same situation?
Tone is exceptionally important in bad news cases. Be positive and professional.
Depending on the case, you will use letter or memo format when responding to bad news cases. Pearsall’s Chapter 10 on formats of correspondence provides ample models. There is only one rhetorical difference between letters and memos, but it is an important one since it relates to audience analysis. You write letters to people outside your company and memos to people inside your company. If the bad news case instructs you to write to a client or customer, for example, you will write a letter. If it instructs you to write to a coworker, you will write a memo. Use block format for the letters and memos you write in this course.
Note that bad news correspondence includes the following elements:
1. A bridge to previous correspondence
2. A reminder of previous agreement (or a clear statement of why you can’t provide the asked for solution)
3. An offer of a solution, phrased positively
4. An indication of what will happen next.