This Is The Oldest Customer Complaint In History (And It's Great)

For over thousands of years we, mankind, have been keeping on changing. But there is one thing that did not change all of these years, “it is complaining”. Archaeologists have confirmed that the oldest complaint in the history has been found in a cuneiform tablet from ancient Mesopotamia.


This archaeological piece was found from the ancient city of Ur, which is famous for its impressive Ziggurat. Modern day “Ur” is called Iraq and this piece is roughly dated back to 1750 BCE. This complaint is from a man named “Nanni” to a supplier known as “Ea-Nasir” and it was written in the tablet as a message. There are multiple complaints mentioned in the letter. Ea-Nasri failed to deliver quality grade of copper to Nanni as agreed. And he has misdirected and delayed the delivery. Also, he has been rude to Nanni’s servants who went to collect the goods. Hope it is familiar to you?

Nanni wrote, “What do you take me for, that you treat somebody like me with such contempt?”. This message was understandable to us thanks to famous Assyriologist Leo Oppenheim’s Letters from Mesopotamia. “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.”

(He’s not done yet.)

“Is there anyone among the merchants who trade with Telmun who has treated me in this way? You alone treat my messenger with contempt!”

This tablet is part of the permanent collection of the British Museum but it is not displayed to the public. It is written in Akkadian, which is an earliest known Semitic language (which originate from the Middle East, including Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic) and it’s written in cuneiform script, which was used to write the unrelated Sumerian language. The tablet measured only 11.6 by 5 centimeters (4.6 by 2 inches). It might have been made smaller in size because Nanni was so upset when he was making it. He might not be in his clear mind. This can be predicted from the statement “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,”

But after all this Nanni may have been forced to do business with Ea-Nasir as there was no other option as he concluded the letter stating “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.”

Well, we do not know about you, but that’s going to be a good start for us to give a better customer service from now on.

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