The Sea-Monkey Letter
I think we’ve already established that I was a strange child (see “Bunny: Wanted for Breaking and Entering“).
But in addition to being strange, apparently, I also had an anger management issue. Or I was a good consumer. I’m not sure which.
My family has always referred to my lifelong penchant for putting a corporation’s feet to the fire as a “Sea-Monkey Letter”. So in the interest of full disclosure, I thought I should share that part of my childhood with you.
You see, when I was 13, I whole-heartedly believed the advertisements for Sea-Monkeys. Yes. I was the one. (I already said I was a strange child…don’t judge.) So I bought a package of Sea-Monkeys, and (surprise, surprise) they turned out to be a big waste of money and time. Well, my little 13-year-old-self didn’t intend to take that sitting down. They had guaranteed if the Sea-Monkeys failed to grow, then for 25 cents and a self-addressed, stamped envelope, they would send replacements. So complete with little circles dotting the i’s, here’s my first consumer letter to Sea-Monkey headquarters (the brilliantly named “Transcience Corporation”):
I bought some Sea-Monkeys about 3 weeks ago. I know this is early to tell how well they are growing however none of them are doing much growing seeing they all are dead!
Yeah, apparently I had already learned the importance of a powerful opening paragraph. I went on to say:
I’ve fed them only genuine “Sea-Monkey food” and they were all around 1/16 of an inch. This morning I saw the little “pets” floating around with the current. Not one of them moved.
Aw, I’m slinging their own corporate marketing lingo right back at them. That’ll show ’em! Plus, I’m getting a huge head start on the overuse of quotation marks, which will be a really big topic of conversation in, oh, about 40 years.
Please tell me how to keep the water clean. The monkeys aren’t very tidy.
The “water purifier” business makes me afraid to add water. When 70% of the water has evaporated matters get complicated.
Most people I’ve talked with say the whole thing was a hoax. I, as usual, was a sucker & bought some. “I tried them!” I didn’t like them.
Okay, so I watched too many commercials when I was 13. “Try it, you’ll like it,” was a huge advertising slogan back in the day. Perhaps I thought I would sound like a more savvy consumer if I knew other companies’ slogans as well? I dunno. Again, don’t judge.
Well my little “pets” are in the big fish bowl in the sky now. The water up there is probably dirty, too. Other Sea-Monkey owners say they don’t know how to clean the water. One family resorted to flushing their little “pets” down the commode.
Ah, see? The anger management issue is starting to rear its ugly head. You can tell I’m getting heated. Yeaah, it’s about to get ugly up in here! Okay, okay…I’ll stop interrupting.
I’m 13 years old and am definitely not a scientific genius. I don’t know anything about “Sea-Monkeys” and what’s more I don’t want to know. So please don’t send me my dear little replacements. All I ask for is my 98 cents back.
I intend to warn my friends about this experience. It’s cruel. I think your whole test tube clan should stick to selling goldfish. They don’t hatch instantly, but they’re a lot more reliable.
Thank you. (For nothing.)
SNAP! And with that, I thought I was Consumer of The Year. The Sea-Monkey corporation would be putty in my hands. I had threatened to tell my friends! Okay, so it took me 40 years to make good on that threat. (Although in my defense, somebody had to invent the internet and social media for me to really get any traction with this.) But I AM telling my friends about it now. SO THERE! I am nothing if not persistent.
Well, the Sea-Monkey people did write back. A handwritten note. On a 3×5 card.
I honestly think any corporation who sends out their correspondence on a 3×5 card is just not destined for the Fortune 500. Granted, any corporation who sells brine shrimp to unsuspecting children is probably not destined for the Fortune 500 anyway. But come on! Buy some corporate stationery, people! Show some Sea-Monkey pride!
Anyway, they refused to give me my requested refund. And yes, adding insult to injury, they only included the guaranteed replacements. (Which I still have, by the way.)
I guess they weren’t as intimidated by my letter as I had intended. But it gave my parents a tremendous laugh. And even though it wasn’t completely successful, the experience somehow gave me a sense of consumer power that has stayed with me. To this day if a company ticks me off, my husband will widen his eyes and ask if I’m about to write a “Sea Monkey letter”.
So Corporate America: beware. You’d better stock up on 3×5 cards.