Show me the data!

Failure to respond to a simple email – I’m not impressed

July 5th, 2012 | Posted by rmounce in Content Mining

I sent my local MP (Don Foster, Lib Dem) a simple, fairly short (~265 words), clear & concise formal letter 18 days ago – I blogged the draft of it which is virtually the same here.

It’s been at least 13 working days now by my count and I still haven’t received a proper reply, so I tweeted @DonFosterMP last night:


I soon also got a reply from Don Foster’s press officer, email below:


From: “ROBERTS, Nick”
To: “‘Ross Mounce'”
Subject: RE: Letter from your constituent Ross Mounce
Date: Thu, 5 Jul 2012 10:12:06 +0000

Dear Ross,

I’ve just seen your tweets to Don. Apologies for the mix up. acts as a middleman and forwards your query on to our casework folder as opposed to Don directly. There is nothing wrong with this, it just means that our acknowledgment email goes to them and does not get forwarded to you.

We did receive your email of the 17th and rest assured we will get that response to you asap. However, we get over 500 emails a day so as you’ll appreciate there are backlogs. This is especially true in the summer when there are staff holidays. Our small team then have to prioritise “urgent” cases.

Once again, please accept my apologies for the delay in Don’s reply.



Nick Roberts
Caseworker & Press Officer
Office of the Rt Hon Don Foster MP

31 James Street West, Bath, BA1 2BT
t: 01225 338973
f: 01225 463630

NOTE: Information in this email is confidential and may be privileged. It is intended for the addressee only. If you have received it in error please notify the sender immediately and delete it from your system. You should not otherwise copy it, retransmit it, use or disclose its contents unless permission to do so is explicitly stated. Views expressed in personal emails do not necessarily reflect the position or opinion of the Liberal Democrats.

Personally I don’t care if my MP occasionally receives 500 emails a day – he can still send confirmation of receipt messages automatically surely? It would have been nice to know that my letter had at least been looked at.

I can’t help feeling that I’m being fobbed off here.

But it appears I’m not alone in being ignored. According to 2008 statistics from
Don Foster only replied to 57% of letters sent to him with their service (and in fairness this makes him far from the ‘worst’ MP in terms of response rate for that year; stats here).

With so many young people today completely apathetic towards UK politics, myself included, this hardly sets a great precedent. It was my first attempt to engage, and so far it’s been largely unsatisfactory.

So what to do next? I don’t know frankly. I await a fuller response from Don Foster himself.

I’ll keep this post updated with any further relevant correspondences.