Poor Service Has Existed Forever: Tablet Inscribed With 3,765 Year Old Customer Service Complaint

February 26, 2015

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This is an ancient Babylonian tablet from around 1,750BC inscribed with a complaint from a man named Nanni to a merchant named Ea-nasir about the quality of copper he was delivered. It just proves that piss-poor customer service has existed since the beginning of time. No word how long Nanni had to wait on hold before making his complaint. A full translation:

Tell Ea-nasir: Nanni sends the following message:


When you came, you said to me as follows : "I will give Gimil-Sin (when he comes) fine quality copper ingots." You left then but you did not do what you promised me. You put ingots which were not good before my messenger (Sit-Sin) and said: "If you want to take them, take them; if you do not want to take them, go away!"

What do you take me for, that you treat somebody like me with such contempt? I have sent as messengers gentlemen like ourselves to collect the bag with my money (deposited with you) but you have treated me with contempt by sending them back to me empty-handed several times, and that through enemy territory. Is there anyone among the merchants who trade with Telmun who has treated me in this way? You alone treat my messenger with contempt! On account of that one (trifling) mina of silver which I owe(?) you, you feel free to speak in such a way, while I have given to the palace on your behalf 1,080 pounds of copper, and umi-abum has likewise given 1,080 pounds of copper, apart from what we both have had written on a sealed tablet to be kept in the temple of Samas.

How have you treated me for that copper? You have withheld my money bag from me in enemy territory; it is now up to you to restore (my money) to me in full.

Take cognizance that (from now on) I will not accept here any copper from you that is not of fine quality. I shall (from now on) select and take the ingots individually in my own yard, and I shall exercise against you my right of rejection because you have treated me with contempt.

Daaaaaamn! You should feel pretty ashamed of yourself, Ea-nasir. Not only are you trying to pass off poor quality copper, but you're withholding the man's money in enemy territory? That is some SHADY SHIT. I'm reporting you to the Better Business Bureau. "I'll have you killed." I'll just be on my way.

Keep going for a shot of the back in case you were wondering whether there would be a stick figure of a naked woman (sadly there was not).

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Thanks to

  • Looks like a "Dave"

    As strong as I am, I still wouldn't want to be a mailman back in those days...

    'cause imagine having to carry a bag full of those tablets. :)

  • Alamander

    So service complaints have progressed from 'draft a well-worded and lengthy chiseled grievance in a tablet of stone, and have it hand-delivered to the offender' to ' shit out a one-star yelp review with no punctuation and all spelling errors about how the raspberry iced tea at cheesecake factory is too watered down.'

  • dougfunnay

    pretty sure thats imprints in clay rather than carvings in stone
    also pretty sure the dudes in question were extremely wealthy and possessed a higher degree of education than most

  • Alamander

    Ooh, you must be right about the clay.
    I know it's not a one-to-one comparison. I figured not every common folk was buying high-grade copper ingots and getting multiple messengers to retrieve them.
    But saying 'LOL, they used to print that on clay, now expensive business grievances are done via email, or through lawyers on computers. The times man, the timeeesss' isn't as funnay.

    Sorry, it's a bad internet comments thread joke.

  • Jenness

    I want to complain in this exact same fashion if I ever get bad customer service. TAKE THAT PIZZA MAN - 30 minutes or it's free my camel!

  • Jfdelman

    That could do wonders for my calluses!

  • JJtoob

    Ea-nasir is not an A+++++++ seller.

  • Frédéric Purenne

    "... here to our left is a chicken foot clay writing from Babylon that describe a transaction complaint. The clay has been found clasped the hand of what we presume to be a servant to a merchant lord. To our right you can see a piece of wood we presume to be the complaint's response. It was found lodged in one of the servant's pelvic cavity..."

  • Dave

    I bet he got a faster response sending a tablet (through enemy territory), then I get waiting on hold on my fancy cell phone for my copper ingots.

  • Luka Mlinar

    It wasn't written by a Croat. T-Mobile didn't exist back then :)

  • Now I'm wondering what kind of swear-words they were using in Babylon back in those days --you can learn a lot about a culture by the kind of insults they favor.

  • Wiley

    Such contempt. He was actually pretty diplomatic about the potential for future business though, considering he got swindled a bit.

  • dougfunnay

    probably werent really many places he could source such a large amount of copper from
    bad business or no business?

  • Wiley

    I was thinking about the limited options for business clients as well, good point. Still impressive to not spew lead at the guy or hurl threats at him in the process. He doesn't sound like he's just rolling over and taking it for the sake of more scammy business. I'm not really sure who these players were back then or what power or connections they had because that would also be a factor in communication choices.

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