Dutiful Daughter

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

My mother died a year ago. My sibs and I have been to services virtually every
week to say Kaddish and planned the headstone unveiling to coincide with what
would have been her 105 th birthday. With the family gathered and a service
conducted, we pulled off the covering and were horrified to find that her birthday
was wrongly engraved on the stone. I’d paid more than two thousand dollars
deposit (half the bill) to have a headstone for her that matched my father’s. It was
more than unsettling to have this happen with the whole family present,
especially because one of my brothers has been having major emotional issues.
I of course was scared I had screwed up but when I went home and dug out the
proof from the order I found that it was correct. I’d even had the rabbi check the
Hebrew. The stonemason must have made a mistake. How should I convey my
displeasure to the company and what kind of compensation should I ask for? If it
matters, I’m an attorney and my correspondence with them has all been on my
office email account.

Dutiful Daughter

Dear Dutiful Daughter:

I would leave a voicemail that sounds very distraught and let them
know you will be following up by email asking for mitigation and
remediation. Then do so. Be sure to stress how upsetting it was to the
assembled family and friends and how it disturbed a ritual and solemn
occasion with unnecessary pain and suffering. The last phrase has
vaguely threatening implications without specifically saying you’re
going to sue them. Then ask what the timeline is for correcting the
mistake, and whether they will replace the whole stone or correct the
defect (and how). But stress that it was to match your father’s and
that is why you chose that company. End by asking what they think is
an appropriate and fair discount. Be sure to attach a copy of the proof
to your email.

If they reply that they will replace the stone at no additional charge
beyond your deposit, you have gotten as good as you can get, pain
and suffering notwithstanding. If they say less, tell them you will
consider your options and reply after they have completed replacing
the stone. Then ask for half again less than what they offer. It’s
unlikely they will argue hard. Be sure to visit the grave yourself before
you pay another penny.