Kids are filled with a wholesome innocence that adults often try their best to protect and nurture. We tell them that if they work hard they’ll get rewarded, and that bad behaviour will lead to bad outcomes. In truth, the world’s a little more complex than that and nowhere is that truer than when an adult is trying to write to a monolithic corporation. Whether asking for a refund, complaining about terrible service or rude staff, or venting about some other issue, the chances are that 9 times out of 10 nothing happens.
So what happens when kids decide to write to a company? Well, every now and again the company writes back in just the right way and a little bit of magic happens. It’s nice to know that even in the biggest of companies there’s someone with enough childhood spirit left to know how to write back to a kid. So, here’s a list of times when that’s happened.
1. Lucasfilm Writes Back
Colin was 7 years old when he began to question the Jedi’s dedication to abstinence. If you’re not familiar with Star Wars, the Jedi (the good guys) typically aren’t allowed to marry or fall in love because it can lead to a lot of the negative emotions associated with evil. A lot of fans, Colin included, have pointed out that this is kinda… stupid. But Colin was especially concerned.
He wanted to grow up and get married and have kids but according to Star Wars he’d have to join the Sith (the bad guys who are allowed to do pretty much anything they want) and that did not sound okay to him. So he wrote to Lucasfilm and told them, “I want go get married without becoming a Sith. Please change the rule.” In a sweet gesture the multi-million dollar company responded, saying, “It sounds like the Force is strong with you, and you are showing great wisdom by asking your question.
When you find someone that you can connect to in a selfless way, then you are on the path of the light, and the dark side will not take hold of you. With this goodness in your heart, you can be married.”
2. Harry Winsor and Boeing
Harry Winsor was an 8 year old with an immense love of planes who, in 2010, wrote to the famous aircraft manufacturer Boeing. His letter included an adorable design of his own aeroplane (pictured below) done in crayon but the company’s immediate response was… well let’s just say it was dry.
Boeing wrote back saying, “Like many large companies [...] we do not accept unsolicited ideas. Experience shows that most ideas had already been considered by our engineers and there can be unintended consequences to simply accepting these ideas. The time, cost, and risk involved in processing them, therefore, we not justified by the benefits gained.
So while we appreciate your interest, we regret to inform you that we have disposed of your message and retained no copies. Please understand that this was done on the basis of an established company policy, not on the merit of your idea.”
Ouch. But, that wasn’t the end of it! Harry’s father posted the letter to social media asking for advice on how to break the (brutal) news to his airplane-obsessed son. Boeing’s twitter account eventually got wind of it and someone with a bit of sense responded and got the ball rolling. “We can do better,” the account later tweeted. And they did! They wrote back with a more personal (child-friendly) response and invited Harry and his father to Boeing’s factory for a guided tour, as well as a free day out at Boeing’s private museum dedicated to the history of flight!
Harry was ecstatic with the day and Boeing have promised to respond to letters from children in a more friendly and reasonable way in the future.
3. Charlotte and Lego
In 2014 7 year old Charlotte decided to air some grievances she had about her favourite toy, Lego. Specifically Charlotte didn’t like that “there are barely any lego girls” and that “all the girls did was sit at home, go to the beach, and shop, and they had no jobs”. You can see the full letter below.
In an endearing response not only did Lego agree but they went further, saying, “We have been very focused on including more female characters and themes that invite even more girls to build.” And, only a few months later, revealed a new set of Lego called the Research Institute play kit as a response to Charlotte’s letter. In the kit children can build and play with Lego characters from all kinds of scientific backgrounds including astronomy, palaeontology and chemistry and, best of all, they’re all women! Another company might have been happy to just write back but Lego went the extra mile and actually took the criticism on-board and created a new toy just because of Charlotte.
4. Katie’s Letter to Google
In 2014 Katie was feeling down that her father rarely got to spend any time with her. He worked for Google and was almost always in the office and, deciding that she’d had enough of this, Katie decided to write to her father’s boss. “Dear Google worker,” she wrote, “can you please make sure when daddy goes to work he gets one day off. Like he can get a day off on Wednesday.” She later adds, “It is summer you know!” just to emphasise her point.
Katie’s father’s boss not only read the letter but responded positively, and decided to give her father an extra vacation week in July to spend with his daughter. “Your father has been hard at work designing many beautiful and delightful things,” he wrote, before telling Katie that her father can have his birthday and the first week of July off of work. So not only was Katie’s letter read and responded to, but it actually worked and she’ll now get to spend more time with her father!
5. Dexter’s Letter to NASA
In 2013, 7 year old Dexter wrote to NASA about his interest in science. “I would like to come,” he writes about going to Mars, “but I’m 7. So I can’t.” He then asks NASA about what it is he has to do to become an astronaut and in a heartwarming response NASA actually wrote back along with lots of space-related goodies like stickers, photos of Mars and the Curiosity Rover, and fun stickers too!
“Just think –” Nasa wrote back, “in a few years, you could be one of the poneers that may help lead the world’s activities for better understanding of our earth and for exploring space.” The letter (posted below) also included instructions on science exercises Dexter can do to build up his interest and knowledge of space, along with lots of information on how to become an astronaut. How sweet!