Patience is a Virtue


A Fast Response to Those Unitholder Complaints that I Haven't Been Responding Fast Enough

For a smart material to be able to send out a more complex signal it needs to be nonlinear.  If you hit a tuning fork twice as hard it will ring twice as loud but still at the same frequency.  That's a linear response.  If you hit a person twice as hard they're unlikely just to shout twice as loud.  That's non-linear.

- Neil Gershenfeld

On 12 Jan '00 I received a bundle of letters, including two I would classify as complaints.  The first said, "Dear Madam: I wrote to you on 6 October 1999 but have received no acknowledgement."  The second letter read, "Dear Mrs Hatch: I'm sorry we did not respond to your Newsletter N.3.  While being more than grateful that someone is doing something about this terrible investment, we put it aside thinking we'd just wait a week or so hoping to receive a receipt or some acknowledgement of the $50 sent with our letter of 7 October..."

To these unitholders and to any others who are awaiting some personal communication from me:

Working with only the occasional help of my husband (who has a job requiring frequent travel) and my children, I have sent out 500 copies of the first newsletter and roughly 1250 copies each of newsletters 2 and 3.  (Costs include copying charges, envelopes, stamps, and also ink for the Deskjet which prints the envelopes.)  Stuffing and stamping that many letters is no picnic.  Some newsletters I mailed multiple times to various locations trying to find the latest addresses of the more itinerant of the group.

I have received back roughly 2000 phone calls, letters, and emails in response to my mailings.  (I've even had a few visits.)  Returning calls for those who left messages while I was out has added quite a bit to my phone bill.  Responding by mail to others takes paper, stamps, ink, envelopes and LOTS of time.  (Sometimes I call them because, while that increases my phone bill, it's so much quicker.)

I've entered each unitholder into a database.  I have spent many hours ensuring, by every means at my disposal, that the unitholder information is correct.  I have made numerous long distance calls trying to locate far-flung unitholders and have cross-checked hundreds of names and addresses against information available online (such as it is).  This has added more to my phone bill.  (I pay a flat rate Internet fee, so that doesn't increase.  That's why I would prefer to communicate via email or the message board if at all possible.) 

I have spent hundreds of hours logging each and every contact into the unitholder database.  I have entered contribution records for each and every contribution and denoted whether it is a cheque, cash, voucher, stamps, or offer of assistance, the date it was received, the drawer's bank and branch if applicable (required by the bank for deposits) and the amount.  (I will distribute financial statements with the next newsletter showing how much was donated and exactly where the money has been/will be spent.)

Do donations exceed my costs?  Hardly.  The amount remaining after subtracting out enough for the High Court filing is less than half what I've spent in the last year alone trying to co-ordinate unitholders.  (We spent tens of thousands in legal fees and investigation costs in the two years prior to that.  I've chalked that up to "education.")  I have upcoming expenses for trips to the Auckland and Christchurch areas to meet with unitholders who have told me they may have information or who have offered valuable assistance.  To possibly hold one or more unitholder meetings in the future will cost even more.

I'm grateful to no longer be paying for everything myself.  I thank everyone who has made a contribution.  But I must say that no one is paying me to do this.  I am motivated by the hope of a positive outcome (yes, the chance still exists) and because we personally lost so much (including our illusions).  Involving other people has had benefit in several areas, but has eroded all the free hours of my life.  My older son and I, starting from scratch and with no experience, got this web site up and running without any professional help.  We had to spend some money on software.  Plus, it costs money each month to have the site hosted. 

I'm not saying all this merely to complain or to get sympathy.  I intend to call on most of you who have offered help or information once I get the infrastructure set up and understand what assistance and information would be worth more to me than the effort it takes to retrieve it when the assistant or informant is across the harbour, across the North Island or across the Strait.  I AM asking unitholders to please be patient.  There IS a limit to what I can get done in a given time frame.  If I don't get back to you as soon as you'd like, don't be annoyed. You might even send me a postcard, an email, or a phone call restating what it is you want from me. 

Right now, I have about 250 unitholders who are awaiting "more information" (they ticked the box I naively put on the High Court slip).  To even begin to explain some of the things that went on will take 10 or 15 typewritten pages.  My cost for this mailing will be huge.  And some of the people wanting information have sent me nothing to cover the cost of printing and mailing.  (It would be wonderful if all unitholders were online.)

Sometimes I feel like I'm running for office, trying to convince people to vote for me

Thanks for letting me have my say.

Ruth Hatch

For news articles on the Flat Rock Forests Trust, forestry, the Serious Fraud Office, one immigrant family's experiences, immigration specialists, fraud, juries, logging, and more, check out the News Table of Contents.  Or you may wish to visit the Forestry Trust Table of Contents to read how a unit trust went bust.  Or the Topics Table of Contents which offers a different approach to lots of topics - among them poisonous insects, eating dogs, what's addictive, training vs teaching, tornados, unusual flying machines, humour, wearable computers, IQ tests, health, Y chromosomes, share options, New Jersey's positive side, oddities, ageing, burial alternatives, capital punishment, affairs, poverty, McCarthyism, the most beautiful city in the world, neverending work and more...

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