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Do you complain to the company when quality/service is less than expected?

h
Harts52 Jan 10, 2014 08:34 AM

"Why would you call?"

That comment prompted this thread. It was a post on another thread discussing the quality decline of english muffins.

Do you call or email when the product is less than expected? Do you return items to the store and, if so, what stores are good about returns and what stores aren't?

This is the response I posted in the other thread:

"I always contact the company when I'm dissatisfied with the product or have a bad experience....my money, my right to a voice. In nearly 40 years, there are only a few companies that have either ignored me or expressed a lack of concern.

A surprising number have been kind of crazy in their appreciation. Heinz - after alerting them to finding tiny pieces of blue plastic in their baby strained peas - sent me so many coupons I didn't have to pay cash for a Heinz product for 20 years and called me to explain their manufacturing procedure and how an automated bag-cutter had been shredding plastic when opening the peas.

My family laughs when I take credit for Clairol changing their ads for Herbal Essence Shampoo but I was sick to death of the girl in the shower making erotic noises and expressed my disgust. The commercials stopped shortly thereafter. Coincidence? I think not...LOL.

My college marketing professor emphasized that corporate decisions have been changed on one voice. One! Sure, things have changed as companies have become global behemoths, but it takes a short amount of time to find the contact info for a company and shoot and email or place a call. I have always felt kind of obligated."

I will add to this that Sonic and Target are two of the national chains that have given me problems. A Wal-Mart customer service person told me they are no longer accepting returns without a receipt and drivers license (?), they have instituted a time limit (I forget what, not as strict as Target's 30-day limit) and they are tracking the number of returns and, if you have "too many," they will refuse the return.

On the plus side, I think Trader Joe's wins the award for returns. There are lots of stories on the TJ's Yay/Nay threads that support this. Even a cell phone picture of a vegetable gone bad gets a refund. Pretty awesome!

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  1. sandiasingh RE: Harts52 Jan 10, 2014 09:09 AM

    As a marketing professional, I know how important feedback is, so I do provide it. But these days it rarely gets any attention. I was posting positive feedback on our local WF store FB page and it got to the point where I was the only person posting anything! The last five posts were all from me over a period of about six weeks, so I stopped. I've talked to at least four different employees including the marketing manager and they all offer their surprise that no one ever responded, but no one ever did.

    Returns are not usually a problem but I'm not a huge consumer any more. I did recently have a very bad meal in one of the few restaurants we patronize and received a weak response from the manager to let him know next time I come in. Dude, I don't think you got the message--I won't be coming in again!

    1 Reply
    1. re: sandiasingh
      f
      fourunder RE: sandiasingh Jan 11, 2014 10:11 AM

      I did recently have a very bad meal in one of the few restaurants we patronize and received a weak response from the manager to let him know next time I come in. Dude, I don't think you got the message--I won't be coming in again!
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      this is pretty much the standard answer from my experience in most privately run establishments.

    2. ttoommyy RE: Harts52 Jan 10, 2014 09:34 AM

      "My family laughs when I take credit for Clairol changing their ads for Herbal Essence Shampoo but I was sick to death of the girl in the shower making erotic noises and expressed my disgust. The commercials stopped shortly thereafter. Coincidence? I think not...LOL."

      You were not the only one. Many people complained about this back in the day. I remember reading a newspaper article about it at the time.

      The only time I "complain" is when there is human interaction; for example, at a retail store. If service or merchandise is below standard, then I say something. I don't really complain, but I do let my dissatisfaction be known.

      1. viperlush RE: Harts52 Jan 10, 2014 09:37 AM

        Nope, just go elsewhere or buy something different.

        Though I do encourage my mother in her complaining about the changes at her Wegmans to whomever will listen. And I did write an angry letter to a restaurant who wouldn't give my mother info on ingredients when she ended up at the Dr office with an allergic reaction after a meal there.

        11 Replies
        1. re: viperlush
          s
          seamunky RE: viperlush Jan 10, 2014 10:16 AM

          I recently wrote to Frito-Lay because the bag of Doritos I got were particularly hard and not the usual crisp texture. This was to let them know so they can check their machines/corn/oil temp and maintain a consistent product. I was so looking forward to some cheesy crispy Doritos and I received a sub-par product. They responded by sending me a coupon for a free bag. I'll probably use it for something other than Doritos.

          1. re: viperlush
            s
            seamunky RE: viperlush Jan 10, 2014 10:17 AM

            Sorry viperlush, I mean to reply to the OP

            1. re: viperlush
              viperlush RE: viperlush Jan 11, 2014 03:28 PM

              I did call a restaurant last night after an unpleasant encounter with a doorman and I emailed this morning. Although the person on the phone was polite, and they promptly responded to my email, it didn't change how I feel about them.

              1. re: viperlush
                viperlush RE: viperlush Jan 12, 2014 10:24 AM

                And I did send Chobani an email about exploding yogurt. The apology and the coupons I received instead of a refund were useless.

                1. re: viperlush
                  ttoommyy RE: viperlush Jan 13, 2014 03:57 AM

                  Why were they useless? I think an apology is quite a professional response. You wanted a refund for a dollar or two? I would have gone back to the store where I bought it for that.

                  1. re: ttoommyy
                    viperlush RE: ttoommyy Jan 13, 2014 06:39 AM

                    Not a personalized apology, just the form one that I assume they gave everyone last summer. Neither apology nor coupons cleaned the rental fridge. I don't normally purchase Chobani products, only did it this time because we were on vacation and they were convenient. And it hasn't been easy to find stores that sell the Chobani products at the price that I have coupons for. Since we had purchased and discarded the yogurt in MD, and learned about the company wide issue when we returned to MA, there was no way to return to the store we had purchased it from. So useless.

                    1. re: viperlush
                      h
                      HillJ RE: viperlush Jan 13, 2014 07:18 AM

                      Did you specifically ask for a refund viperlush? I assume when you emailed the company you shared that you were on vacation purchased their brand in one state but live in another and you aren't interested in anything more than your money back. ?

                      I know some companies want proof of purchase for refunds, others don't. But too many people with nothing but time to ask for refunds they aren't entitled to killed the auto refund nature of most businesses.

                      I still enjoy the brand myself and haven't experienced the issue you encountered. But, here's where customers really differ experience to experience. It's not to late to contact Chobani again and let them know their coupons were not the response you were looking for.

                      Some folks would say to that suggestion, life's too short..I prefer to believe if such things get under your skin you've already invested your time..get satisfaction.

                      1. re: HillJ
                        viperlush RE: HillJ Jan 13, 2014 07:23 AM

                        Yup, and I told them that we had eaten a couple of the containers. I only contacted them because it was part of their voluntary recall and in case things went further/or someone got sick from it I wanted my complaint to be on record with the company.

                        1. re: viperlush
                          h
                          HillJ RE: viperlush Jan 13, 2014 07:28 AM

                          Smart. Voluntary recall information is so important for customers to be aware of.

                      2. re: viperlush
                        ttoommyy RE: viperlush Jan 13, 2014 09:01 AM

                        Thanks for the clarification. From you first post about this, I had no idea your experience was past of a larger problem. Now I understand.

                        1. re: viperlush
                          j
                          jlhinwa RE: viperlush Jan 13, 2014 10:39 PM

                          That's too bad. I regularly purchase Chobani so checked my unopened containers when the recall occurred. I had three from a bad lot (no exploding containers and no bad yogurt eaten--that I know of). They sent me 24 coupons (8 for each item) for free yogurt with no restrictions on price/unit. In my area, Chobani is readily available at several grocers so this ended up being a win for me. Not that I was looking for freebies beyond having my three cartons replaced.

                          I was very satisfied with how they handled it. If I had to clean up a yogurt explosion, I may not have been quite as pleased.

                  2. alkapal RE: Harts52 Jan 10, 2014 12:38 PM

                    yes i do, if the product is enough of a disappointment. typically they will offer a coupon or whatnot, and that is fine, but it really is not my motivation.

                    i was surprised recently when i complained about the chocolate covered peanut butter pop tarts (I KNOW, I KNOW!!!), but they didn't seem to care. LOL!!! on reflection, yeah,..makes sense. maybe they knew i wasn't a regular pop-tart customer. (i complained that it was way too sweet, and somewhat gummy. now i think that is the profile. HAHA!).

                    the last thing i complained about was sun chips. they used to be much better. now they taste like trash. i got them in the snack size bags as part of a bigger mixed package from frito-lay. they did send me coupons, but for any F-L product.
                    Seriously, what happened to sunchips???

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: alkapal
                      h
                      Harts52 RE: alkapal Jan 10, 2014 01:30 PM

                      I haven't tried sunchips lately but had some multi-grain scoops And thought they sort of tasted sunchip-like only more substantial.

                      And yeah, I think sweet and gummy is part of the pop tart mission statement :-)

                      1. re: Harts52
                        alkapal RE: Harts52 Jan 11, 2014 12:37 AM

                        multi-grain scoops are fabulous.

                    2. alkapal RE: Harts52 Jan 10, 2014 12:44 PM

                      target is 90 days

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: alkapal
                        h
                        Harts52 RE: alkapal Jan 10, 2014 01:34 PM

                        Interesting - my Target receipts say 30, unless they've changed policy recently. I haven't been in since summer. I'll have to check it out because it would make a difference in whether I shop there more often.

                        1. re: Harts52
                          alkapal RE: Harts52 Jan 11, 2014 12:36 AM

                          my 1/10 purchase i can return till 4/10. just double checked.

                          1. re: alkapal
                            h
                            Harts52 RE: alkapal Jan 11, 2014 08:32 AM

                            Thx for checking!

                          2. re: Harts52
                            iluvcookies RE: Harts52 Jan 12, 2014 06:40 AM

                            Most items at Target have a 90 day return window. If you have a Target Red card, they give you an additional 30 days. Some items, such as electronics, have shorter return windows.

                        2. m
                          mikie RE: Harts52 Jan 10, 2014 01:20 PM

                          Yes, I'm totally not shy. I mail ordered a new vac, a Miele, and it was supposed to be next day delivery, when it took two days I called the company. Not to complain about the late shipment, but to let them know that FedEx had ripped them off if they were paying extra for overnight service. The guy thanked me for the call, assured me that they have a way to settle shipments with FedEx, and sent me a free box of bags for my new vac, just for calling.

                          If people don't provide feedback, how on earth are the companies going to know what's going on. Someone wrote about how big and international companies are now, all the more reason to provide feedback, because they won't notice a 1 person dip in sales like they used to.

                          1. p
                            pedalfaster RE: Harts52 Jan 10, 2014 01:40 PM

                            Generally not a "complainer".
                            But yeah, when I DO complain?

                            Go straight to the top.

                            The $10/hour cashier ain't gonna help me.

                            1. j
                              Just Visiting RE: Harts52 Jan 11, 2014 04:25 AM

                              Not usually. If I didn't like something, I don't want a coupon to buy more of it. Plus I have to save my energy for the 5,000 calls I will have to make to get the rebates on the appliances I bought. HATE THAT. I have never gotten a rebate without having to call/write repeatedly, threaten to file a complain with the State Attorney General, etc.

                              If there was a safety issue, I would call.

                              1. h
                                HillJ RE: Harts52 Jan 11, 2014 07:09 AM

                                When I was very young, my fifth grade teacher had each student select a company to write to. We had to express our dislike or enjoyment for one of their products I don't think there was one letter that didn't receive a response. Our teacher taped every letter that arrived to the classroom wall. The lesson: you have a voice, use it. Stuck with me my whole life. I wrote to the owner of the produce market near my home (I was local even then) and not only received a letter from his wife but a summer job offer to work in the back when I was older. And when I turned 16 I did! I was noted for my strong customer service talents even then.

                                I'm more of a go to the source kinda gal. Meaning, if I need to complain or return an item, I'll go to the store or individual who sold the item to me for a refund, replacement or a chat. If the item caused harm, like the day I opened a can of Goya black beans and the can was so sharp it cut me, I'll contact the company (and they took all the lot information down by phone and sent me a refund check for the 3 cans I bought-and I didn't ask for my money back).

                                Email is certainly one way to go. Every company seems to have an email address. But I tend to call first and get a specific email address rather than "info@"..

                                When I've raved or complained about a new product here on CH a few (completely unexpected) owners or affiliated folks have 'tried' coming into the thread to say thanks but the Mods (their rules) have deleted the comment. I mention this only to point out that business are surfing their own intel every day on the Net and when they "find you" they want to interact.

                                But I don't see providing useful information to any business as a negative. If you're in business you have to stay open to the idea that you'll be faced with all sorts of inquires. Marketing 101 aside (not to dismiss the importance or the impact) the public is far more verbal, savvy and taken with its own opinion today (& encouraged to be). At the BnB I co-own we have a guest check out card for feedback. They are nearly always filled out or mailed back soon after guests have stayed. My partners and I have learned a great deal about guest expectations through those cards.

                                There are folks who take complete advantage of complaining motivated by the hope of free goods or service. That's not complaining that's taking advantage. A real honest to goodness complaint will be clear to the business owner within the first three seconds of a customer's contact.

                                You have a voice, use it was good advice then, and common advice now.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: HillJ
                                  coll RE: HillJ Jan 11, 2014 07:58 AM

                                  When I was very young, we also had to write to anyone in the world for a class project (don't remember the exact criteria); don't ask me why but I picked Princess Anne over in England. Probably something to do with the Beatles being somewhat popular at the time. I did get a very nice letter back from her secretary, which I still have to this day (down in the basement somewhere!).

                                  Anyway I'm the one on the other thread that said not to bother, but I actually DO complain directly quite often, now that I have some time on my hands. Sometimes I'll get something free, like a few free cans of cat food not long ago in exchange for my sending them a giant piece of plastic I found in a can of theirs. The last complaint was to STS tires, about the price of their Mobil One oil, compared to the Walmart price (that their price had gone up by triple since the last time, while Walmart hadn't changed a penny, and I sent a dated photo to prove it) anyway that merited a personal call (calls actually, until he got me on the line) by the district manager who talked to me for quite awhile about all things automotive. I told him he was a great manager, and I should know! He did offer to give me whatever deals would be going on at the time of my next oil change, I was happy to just get a call though. Guess they're not losing my business just yet.

                                  1. re: coll
                                    h
                                    HillJ RE: coll Jan 11, 2014 09:39 AM

                                    So my 5th grade teacher wasn't the only one, (smile).
                                    btw, I sure hope you've sampled the new Al Di Meola cd, All Your Life-A Tribute to the Beatles.

                                    You've never struck me as the hesitant type :)

                                    1. re: HillJ
                                      coll RE: HillJ Jan 11, 2014 09:50 AM

                                      Go for it, that's my motto. Nah I'm still listening to my old singles ;-)

                                      1. re: coll
                                        h
                                        HillJ RE: coll Jan 11, 2014 10:17 AM

                                        Ah a diehard :) I'm very particular about Beatles tributes but Al Di is such a talented guitarist and this is truly a love fest to the music.

                                        go for it, huh....I had no doubt.

                                        1. re: HillJ
                                          coll RE: HillJ Jan 11, 2014 10:40 AM

                                          We have a great oldies station out here and Breakfast with the Beatles definitely helps! The harmonies!! I will look into Al DiMeola eventually though, thanks for the heads up.

                                          1. re: coll
                                            h
                                            HillJ RE: coll Jan 11, 2014 12:50 PM

                                            I listen to Breakfast with the Beatles through Spotfiy sometimes. Internet radio.

                                            Also Brunch with the Beatles at BBKing's in NY has been a favorite of mine for decades. Ever go?

                                            1. re: HillJ
                                              coll RE: HillJ Jan 11, 2014 01:13 PM

                                              No, had no idea.

                                2. sunshine842 RE: Harts52 Jan 11, 2014 07:16 AM

                                  I used to, but the "why the hell are you stressing me out" tone of most of the folks I talk to have convinced me that nobody gives a rat's red rump, so I just buy something else.

                                  Pizza the other night arrived STONE cold -- called and talked to the manager, who proceeded to argue with me and tell me that there was no possible way the pizza could have been cold. F**k 'em -- there's too many other pizza places around. (Pity, because they used to be the best for miles and miles).

                                  26 Replies
                                  1. re: sunshine842
                                    h
                                    HillJ RE: sunshine842 Jan 11, 2014 07:22 AM

                                    sunshine, you sound like my sister! She doesn't share my easy, gentile approach and as you can imagine we receive different outcomes.

                                    My sister would head to another place and stop going there even if it was her very favorite x food ever. I'll head into the shop within a day or two if the food really disappointed me, take the owner aside, have a chat and wind up with a complimentary x some other time. Sometimes I take use of the complimentary x; sometimes I don't.

                                    It really DOES come down to what matters to you in the end.

                                    1. re: HillJ
                                      sunshine842 RE: HillJ Jan 11, 2014 07:27 AM

                                      Oh, there was nothing harsh or awful about my end of the conversation -- it was along the lines of "love your pizza, but hey, thought you'd want to know".

                                      Turns out he didn't want to know, and was incapable of caring about my silly cold pizza.

                                      I go past there regularly, so I haven't ruled out stopping in and trying to catch the owner, but the quality has been slipping pretty badly in recent months, so he may not care, either.

                                      1. re: sunshine842
                                        h
                                        HillJ RE: sunshine842 Jan 11, 2014 07:31 AM

                                        Then I was incorrect. My sister will call but she won't stop by and she won't return. I can't imagine being that way over food I enjoy.

                                        But like you say, when quality slips and slips badly it's hard NOT to mention it.

                                        1. re: HillJ
                                          sunshine842 RE: HillJ Jan 11, 2014 08:03 AM

                                          especially since we've spoken to the owner since he opened (at a very young age) and has been expanding every couple of years. He's worked his butt off, and it's sad to see his managers letting all his hard work slip away.

                                          1. re: sunshine842
                                            h
                                            Harts52 RE: sunshine842 Jan 11, 2014 08:39 AM

                                            All the more reason to stop in. You could be his wakeup call and, at the very least, it's a semi-random act of kindness ;)

                                            1. re: Harts52
                                              sunshine842 RE: Harts52 Jan 11, 2014 08:50 AM

                                              it was just Thursday, but yeah, it's nagging on me.

                                              1. re: sunshine842
                                                h
                                                HillJ RE: sunshine842 Jan 11, 2014 09:35 AM

                                                It would nag at me too given what you added to this discussion.

                                                1. re: HillJ
                                                  sunshine842 RE: HillJ Jan 11, 2014 10:09 AM

                                                  It was late Thursday and it's just Saturday, so I simply haven't had the time to go over that way.

                                                  1. re: sunshine842
                                                    MamasCooking RE: sunshine842 Jan 11, 2014 02:06 PM

                                                    I have had a few incidents with incompetent staff who really messed things up for us at long standing (independently owned) places. I have contacted the owners to discuss the specifics because I know how hard these owners work to get their businesses *off the ground* so to speak. You can't fix stupid though. The great part is that where I live there is a large selection of independent restaurants...café style places...stores etc. all within walking distance and they all seem to have Facebook pages and want customer feedback. Stick to your guns Sunshine and I hope you get a chance to inform the owner that his manager is incompetent.

                                                    1. re: MamasCooking
                                                      sunshine842 RE: MamasCooking Jan 11, 2014 03:51 PM

                                                      Nope. I'm done.

                                        2. re: sunshine842
                                          h
                                          Harters RE: sunshine842 Jan 11, 2014 10:23 AM

                                          That's like those chain restaurants that ask you to fill in satisfaction cards or ask "how was everything". They do it because they feel they should do it, not because they have the slightest interest in what you say or that they are going to do anything about it.

                                          1. re: Harters
                                            h
                                            HillJ RE: Harters Jan 11, 2014 10:37 AM

                                            There are exceptions, Harters.

                                            My partners and I keep and discuss every guest survey card we receive. We've even framed a few (even the snarky ones that make us smile).

                                            1. re: Harters
                                              coll RE: Harters Jan 11, 2014 10:43 AM

                                              You are so wrong Harters! When I managed a chain restaurant (Red Lobster if you must know ;-) the manager before me put every BAD feedback up on the board out back in the kitchen, for some ungodly reason. That seemed weird to me, so I put all the GOOD feedbacks up (I think once a week? I don't remember but on a regular basis) and OMG the waitresses were in heaven. Heaven I tell you! It was the high point of their week, and I learned a lot about life in general from that.

                                              1. re: coll
                                                h
                                                Harters RE: coll Jan 11, 2014 11:12 AM

                                                That's an interesting comment, coll, and one which actually supports what I said. The company clearly had no policy as to what to do with the cards so the previous manager could one thing and you could another.

                                                1. re: Harters
                                                  coll RE: Harters Jan 11, 2014 01:15 PM

                                                  True, it was a big deal to me at the time too. And to the employees, tangentially. Guess I thought I was very clever or something, but the waitresses were so excited by it all that I was humbled. I totally forget about it all until right now. There was no rule, which can be good or bad I guess. So many hourly employees that never get an ounce of recognition, deserved or not. So many of the waitstaff went above and beyond, for no good reason, and when they realized it was noticed they flipped out.

                                                  1. re: coll
                                                    h
                                                    HillJ RE: coll Jan 11, 2014 01:26 PM

                                                    I'm not sure I follow Harters on this one. I do value customer feedback and the only time I would ignore it is if the feedback was a blatant lie with no proof to back it up.

                                              2. re: Harters
                                                sunshine842 RE: Harters Jan 11, 2014 01:19 PM

                                                Nope, not at all. This is a single-location establishment.

                                                Stopped in today -- and got a runaround from the manager again -- asked if I could have an email address where I could send a note to the owner, and was told that you could send it, but since a manager reads that email box, to make sure it's marked to the owner's attention. (the address is his name, btw) I'm pretty sure he'd never actually see that email.

                                                They're never sure when he's going to be there....sounds like he's taken his eyes off the prize, surrounded himself with managers who don't know what the prize IS, and I have no intention of spending any more of my time trying to contact him. I no longer feel badly for him.

                                                1. re: sunshine842
                                                  h
                                                  HillJ RE: sunshine842 Jan 11, 2014 01:24 PM

                                                  Oh how disappointing. Good grief, that's a bummer and their loss.

                                                  1. re: sunshine842
                                                    h
                                                    Harts52 RE: sunshine842 Jan 11, 2014 01:35 PM

                                                    Shame. When the place is shuttered, he'll have learned his lesson. It's challenging enough to keep the doors open in the food service industry without being blind to quality control and customer dissatisfaction. Hope your dollars are appreciated elsewhere.

                                              3. re: HillJ
                                                w
                                                wonderwoman RE: HillJ Jan 11, 2014 06:38 PM

                                                point of clarification: when you said "easy, gentile approach," did you mean to say "easy, genteel approach?"

                                                1. re: wonderwoman
                                                  h
                                                  HillJ RE: wonderwoman Jan 11, 2014 06:43 PM

                                                  While I am a gentile, I did in fact mean genteel.

                                                  My thanks to the spell check police!

                                                  1. re: HillJ
                                                    sunshine842 RE: HillJ Jan 11, 2014 06:52 PM

                                                    no worries -- the French-speaking part of my brain understood the word exactly as you wrote it. (In French, genteel is spelt gentile).

                                                    1. re: sunshine842
                                                      h
                                                      HillJ RE: sunshine842 Jan 11, 2014 06:57 PM

                                                      True..I know...and it was a busy day of multitasking at the HillJ 'ranch' you win some, you lose some on such days ;)

                                                      1. re: HillJ
                                                        sunshine842 RE: HillJ Jan 11, 2014 07:56 PM

                                                        at least you didn't pull the "there/their" or "our/hour" or any of the other oh-so-close misspellings.

                                                        I didn't even catch the misstep until wonderwoman pointed it out.

                                                        1. re: sunshine842
                                                          h
                                                          HillJ RE: sunshine842 Jan 11, 2014 08:02 PM

                                                          Oh, I'm sure I've done those too..two..to..2!

                                                          Only fitting to complain about it..on a thread about complaining! I suppose my service was less than expected :)

                                                          1. re: HillJ
                                                            sunshine842 RE: HillJ Jan 11, 2014 08:18 PM

                                                            I'll let you know when that happens. :)

                                            2. l
                                              LEOFONT RE: Harts52 Jan 11, 2014 07:28 AM

                                              I couldn't sleep at night if I didn't complain in a discreet manner,....been doing it when merited over 50 years......
                                              When the seller gives me a product ...FREE, then i'll not complain ...but until then.........

                                              1. h
                                                HillJ RE: Harts52 Jan 11, 2014 07:40 AM

                                                Oh fwiw, I've never complained about TEMuffins to the company. I use a workaround to achieve a super crunchy toasted english muffin. And now, because of that thread, I'll be looking for other brands to see how they stack up against the original TEM.

                                                So, good ole customer to customer information is super valuable, don't you find?!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: HillJ
                                                  h
                                                  Harts52 RE: HillJ Jan 11, 2014 08:47 AM

                                                  Absolutely! (And there's a case of Bay's headed my way right now).

                                                2. foodieX2 RE: Harts52 Jan 11, 2014 08:40 AM

                                                  I grew up in the service industry and have worked retail, both store line and corporate, my whole life so yeah, I complain.

                                                  However like others have posted I most likely won't bother with the entry level employee. In some places, like Nordstroms, the associates are empowered to make decisions but most aren't so you are pretty much wasting your time. Same with calling a corporate office. You usually will get a better response researching the name of the president, PR person etc and starting there.

                                                  TJS return policy is great because it gets people back in door and gives them a chance to make right the first time. The manager of our local one said something like 95% of the returns result in people spending more. Very rarely is it a cash back situation.

                                                  However with the power of social media a lot of people are turning to that and companies are listening. My company caused a stir regarding the World Series and people took to Facebook in a big way. Unfortunately, like yelp, people are using for stupid complaints which minimizes the bigger issues.

                                                  My last issue was with a big ticket item that was not performing correctly but was no longer under warranty. I got a new machine and free service for a year.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: foodieX2
                                                    sunshine842 RE: foodieX2 Jan 11, 2014 08:51 AM

                                                    I agree with you on that - there's no way a company can make it right if they didn't know there was something wrong.

                                                  2. Njchicaa RE: Harts52 Jan 11, 2014 08:55 AM

                                                    I absolutely do. I was disappointed with the more expensive ricotta that I bought at Shop Rite a couple of months ago. I love it but it is several dollars more expensive than the regular store brand. I decided to treat myself and get the good stuff. When I went to put it onto the white pizza I was making, I noticed that the cheese was breaking and crumbly... definitely not the thick, rich creamy cheese that I was looking forward to. Looked to me like it was frozen somewhere along the way.

                                                    I emailed the company and expressed my disappointment. They asked me for the lot # on the tub. They also assured me they didn't have any freezers at their facility and that they would follow along the chain to figure out what happened. They also sent me a check for the amount that I paid for their product at the grocery store.

                                                    We had an unpleasant experience from start to finish at a Vegas restaurant while on vacation. I tweeted a comment about how disappointed we were and immediately had a response from them asking me to email them and describe what happened. They wound up inviting us to their weekend brunch and comping everything. We had a wonderful time and left with positive feelings towards the place.

                                                    I had issues with my Delta faucet and tweeted them. Had a brand new, very expensive replacement part shipped to me within 2 days for free.

                                                    I have no hesitation about posting about the good and bad experiences that I've had with companies and places. I work hard for my money and am perfectly willing to spend it on quality products/services. When they are of poor quality, however, then I will reach out to the company to let them know what I think. Most of the time they want to do whatever they can to rectify the situation.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Njchicaa
                                                      coll RE: Njchicaa Jan 11, 2014 09:15 AM

                                                      A lot of times, things freeze out on the dock behind the warehouse this time of year while waiting to be taken inside.

                                                    2. s
                                                      sedimental RE: Harts52 Jan 11, 2014 09:05 AM

                                                      No, I rarely call, complain or return food related items. I just don't have time to return a bag of chips or whatever -and it wouldn't be cost effective to make time to do it. I also rarely shop in regular grocery stores and buy prepared foods. I certainly wouldn't return a tomato or write the company about it, so I think my opportunity for getting bad food is less than someone that regularly buys prepared foods enough to judge their quality.

                                                      I can't think of a prepared food item or restaurant item that I "love" enough to really miss it if it were not available to me. Maybe cheeto's.

                                                      1. h
                                                        Harters RE: Harts52 Jan 11, 2014 10:19 AM

                                                        Generally speaking, if I'm disatisfied with a product then that's my problem unless it's faulty or not of saleable quality. Even then, if it's a trivial matter - say some less than stellar food product that was mouldy - I wouldnt be bothered to pursue it.

                                                        1. shaogo RE: Harts52 Jan 11, 2014 01:38 PM

                                                          I work very long hours and have very little time off. It's usually not worth it to complain; we just don't buy that particular product again. I have not bothered to return anything to a store but for a $300 battery charger that completely failed to work.

                                                          We're also hesitant to complain in restaurants. What we've found in our 40-year history of dining out is that if a restaurant unabashedly puts real crap on my plate; any complaint I lodge will fall on deaf ears because they don't *want* to change nor improve.

                                                          We did have a meal 2 years ago that was a comedy of errors. It was the singular worst lobster roll I'd ever had -- best friend's burger was incinerated (it'd been ordered Medium Rare). Our table leaned -- and it was located near a waiter station. This was at a very stylish hotel dining room on the Connecticut coast.

                                                          The server picked-up our plates (uneaten) and asked if we'd like anything else. We replied "yeah. Menus. We're going to order lunch." The waiter, sadly, remained clueless.

                                                          I penned a letter to the director of food service listed on the restaurant's website. I got a tepid apology with an explanation -- they said that the dining room we ate in was "temporary" and that they were in the midst of a "multi-million dollar renovation." No invitation to return, nor any consideration (gift certificate, etc.).

                                                          Karma is a b*tch, however. Hurricane Sandy reduced their newly-remodeled dining rooms and patio to rubble.

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: shaogo
                                                            coll RE: shaogo Jan 11, 2014 01:42 PM

                                                            I complained to a local restaurant once, and he responded that I was insulting his chefs. I still go there occasionally when others want to, but never on my own accord.

                                                            1. re: coll
                                                              sandiasingh RE: coll Jan 11, 2014 02:51 PM

                                                              Oh brother. That's a good one.

                                                              1. re: coll
                                                                h
                                                                Harts52 RE: coll Jan 11, 2014 03:01 PM

                                                                Was that Gordon Ramsey?! ;-)

                                                                1. re: Harts52
                                                                  coll RE: Harts52 Jan 12, 2014 05:17 AM

                                                                  Gordon Ramsey Jr. At least he wrote me and didn't yell it in my face!

                                                            2. emglow101 RE: Harts52 Jan 11, 2014 02:54 PM

                                                              No.I vote with my dollars. Never to return to or buy again.

                                                              1. l
                                                                latindancer RE: Harts52 Jan 11, 2014 05:33 PM

                                                                No more.

                                                                Over my lifetime I've called, given feedback when something's 'off'…in a nice manner, not-so-nice manner when I feel nobody's listening and on the rare occasion I'll talk to the owner or supervisor on shift.
                                                                I, now, just go onto something new and different when I"m not pleased with a product, customer service or a restaurant.
                                                                If they don't have their s%%t together then they deserve to fail as far as I'm concerned.

                                                                1. jrvedivici RE: Harts52 Jan 11, 2014 06:52 PM

                                                                  I only contacted a company 1 time and it wasn't food related, but this is the NAF board so I'm going for it!

                                                                  Optimum had a sign in their lobby which stated "43% of Optimum customers who left for another company came back to Optimum" (or something close to that)

                                                                  I stood there for a second, actually took a picture of the poster, and realized they were promoting the fact 57%, over half, stayed with the other provider.

                                                                  I emailed the pic and my conclusion to the CEO and received a call from some PR person who thanked me, but the poster stayed up for another year.
                                                                  Not even one month of free cable! :-(

                                                                  1. iluvcookies RE: Harts52 Jan 12, 2014 06:48 AM

                                                                    Yes... I feel that carefully worded and constructive criticism can go a long way. I also tend to give my business to places that appreciate the feedback.

                                                                    I will say that I like to express satisfaction more than I like to complain. It doesn't always help to say what's wrong if you don't also say what's right.

                                                                    Recent example:
                                                                    Having breakfast at the local diner, I requested for my eggs to be well done (I don't like runny eggs). Somehow the bacon also came so well done that is was burnt and inedible. Instead of launching into how bad the bacon was, I told the waitress that the eggs were just right, but somehow the bacon was overdone. I had hot fresh bacon in a moment, along with a sincere apology.

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: iluvcookies
                                                                      coll RE: iluvcookies Jan 12, 2014 07:16 AM

                                                                      Probably just a misunderstanding. Depends on how you voice your complaint, for sure.

                                                                      1. re: coll
                                                                        iluvcookies RE: coll Jan 12, 2014 07:31 AM

                                                                        Exactly... so why start off being rude? I see this happen and I don't get it. 99% of the time issues can be corrected with a simple, polite exchange.

                                                                        1. re: iluvcookies
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                                                                          fourunder RE: iluvcookies Jan 12, 2014 07:54 AM

                                                                          You see, I'm the opposite. Whenever I have breakfast in a diner, sometimes it's an omelet and I cannot stand well done, brown eggs. The smell is off putting to me, so I always clearly request the omelets be made soft, no brown, or I will have to refuse it. Most of the time the server gets it right and sometimes they even refuse to bring out brown egg omelets and insist on it being correct as requested....but sometimes the servers bring out the brown eggs and say they tried, but the cook didn't listen. Rather than try to figure out whose fault it was, the server or the cook's...I have to refuse the eggs and suffer without breakfast. It's one thing to bring out some bacon...it's another to expect a re-order be made without suspicion.

                                                                    2. hotoynoodle RE: Harts52 Jan 12, 2014 09:29 AM

                                                                      i have never called or written a letter, e-mail or tweet as to complain. i could count on one hand the number of times i have complained in person to a manager, and still feel regardless of his/her defense, if the experience was that craptastic it's not worth going back. (like the time i saw rat slithering across a back-bar in broad daylight. i immediately asked for a manager and cancelled my lunch. clearly it was not the first time he'd encountered this, so why would i go back if infestation was uncontrolled? YUK.)

                                                                      if i buy a food product i don't like, it goes in the bin.

                                                                      life is too short.

                                                                      1. BeeZee RE: Harts52 Jan 12, 2014 10:02 AM

                                                                        Local restaurant, visited after they had been open not too long (maybe 60 days), asked for manager after our meal to give her some constructive feedback. She seemed genuinely interested, but when we returned to the restaurant a couple of months later, one of the very specific things we complained about (which was an easy fix) was still not fixed. And frankly there were other issues that made me decide that it wasn't worth my business. So on the surface, management seemed receptive, but didn't do anything.
                                                                        Trader Joe's is exemplary, they will take something back if you just found it "yucky" in flavor (not defective, just not to your liking). I returned something where the employee knew exactly why without asking because so many people had returned the same item...and it disappeared from shelves shortly thereafter.
                                                                        Amy's Organics is receptive to feedback. Sent them an email and they mailed me a package of coupons for various products.
                                                                        I suspect smaller companies pay a bit more attention vs the "mega" manufacturers who are mostly looking out for potential lawsuit issues (ie, plastic material in the food).

                                                                        1. NonnieMuss RE: Harts52 Jan 12, 2014 02:02 PM

                                                                          I e-mailed Nestle once about a tiny piece of metal I spotted in a Spree candy - not trying to get anything, just a heads-up for safety. They fell all over themselves - asking me to send a picture, send the candy and wrapper in, calling me to check back to make sure I was okay, and sent me $12 in free candy coupons. Seems like a good company.

                                                                          1. 4
                                                                            4X4 RE: Harts52 Jan 14, 2014 08:50 AM

                                                                            Lazlo Toth was a pioneer in writing letters (both complaints and praise) to corporations in the pre-internet era.

                                                                            http://www.amazon.com/The-Lazlo-Lette...

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: 4X4
                                                                              h
                                                                              Harts52 RE: 4X4 Jan 14, 2014 08:59 AM

                                                                              Father Guido Sarducci!! And I was just this minute wondering what small gift I could pick up for my son-in-law for Valentine's Day! This is perfect - I never knew about this side of the Father.

                                                                            2. e
                                                                              ErnieD RE: Harts52 Jan 14, 2014 11:37 AM

                                                                              I've gotten a little more assertive about this as I've gotten older, but it still has to be really bad before I will actively complain. I've also gotten a little better about getting in touch when someone does something especially helpful. I always thought it was probably ignored, but I had one instance (car tires, not food) where the guy was so far beyond helpful and I said I would like to get in touch with the company and tell them how much I appreciated his assistance. He was really appreciative and said all responses get sent back to the store manager even though it is a national chain, so I make it a point now to try to pass on compliments as well, especially with restaurants although that wasn't what had put it in my head. I have no idea if it does any good, but it just takes a couple of seconds. I include employee names if I'm able to note them off badges, if not just the day/time I was in.

                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                              1. re: ErnieD
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                                                                                Harts52 RE: ErnieD Jan 14, 2014 11:49 AM

                                                                                I used to work for a huge bank and was talking once to someone who was in a front-facing position. When we were done, she said I might get an automated survey because they were starting to survey in-house satisfaction. A couple months later, there was a size able layoff. Rumor had it that the survey results, in-house and otherwise, played a part in who was or was not retained.

                                                                                That changed my perspective on feedback. I still continue to let a company know when I'm not happy. They're not likely to dismiss someone for one complaint and will use it for a teaching opportunity. However, I make an extra effort to let a company know when someone has provided stellar service.

                                                                                1. re: Harts52
                                                                                  alkapal RE: Harts52 Jan 15, 2014 05:53 AM

                                                                                  i always try and give positive feedback about outstanding employees. i did so just yesterday concerning a new young man hauling carts, etc. at the harris teeter. he: 1. immediately offered and did promptly get new hand sanitizer towels when i noticed that the dispenser at the door was empty; and 2. when he racked up the carts he saw and removed a wet, shredding store flyer sticking on the bottom of one cart. he was also cheerful and friendly. i told the manager that he was doing a good job; the manager acknowledged that and the young man heard it, too. good stuff.

                                                                                  i also participate in the surveys re employees. it makes a difference for them!

                                                                                  1. re: alkapal
                                                                                    h
                                                                                    HillJ RE: alkapal Jan 15, 2014 09:30 AM

                                                                                    Count me in as a customer who takes a moment to applaud excellent customer service. I go right up to the Mgr and say so OR I send a note to the Mgr. about the employee and the service they provided. After raising 4 kids, trying to be a mentor for countless young people and relatives with top notch CS skills-which matters in nearly every job/career, I believe very strongly that the best 'bonus' apart from $$ you can give anyone is acknowledgement of a job done well.

                                                                                    When my youngest son had a p/t summer job and the Mgr gave him 'store bucks' for excellent customer service he used the 'bucks' to buy a candy bar handed it to the Mgr and said, next time just say thanks.

                                                                                    1. re: HillJ
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                                                                                      fourunder RE: HillJ Jan 15, 2014 09:49 AM

                                                                                      First,just so there is no confusion, I'm just poking fun...not specifically what you have indicated....but in general terms and perceptions of similar situations I've read in the past here on chowhound.....

                                                                                      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                                                                                      I believe very strongly that the best 'bonus' apart from $$ you can give anyone is acknowledgement of a job done well.

                                                                                      When my youngest son had a p/t summer job and the Mgr gave him 'store bucks' for excellent customer service he used the 'bucks' to buy a candy bar handed it to the Mgr and said, next time just say thanks.
                                                                                      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                                                                                      1. Others seem to think the monetary award is the only thing they would appreciate...The *Thank you* falls in the category....thanks, but I'd rather have a raise....

                                                                                      2. I love your son's confidence myself....and I would appreciate it for what it was....but others in the supervisor's position may deem it as being rude for not accepting the gesture as intended.

                                                                                      3, In your examples, the best ($$), was rebuked by the the next best.

                                                                                      1. re: fourunder
                                                                                        h
                                                                                        HillJ RE: fourunder Jan 15, 2014 11:28 AM

                                                                                        I'm not taking your comments personally and I fully expected some reaction quite similar to your own. I appreciate the opportunity to add this:

                                                                                        Money has always been the best example our society offers to reward. Young people are growing up believing it is the only reward of true value. And in this day and age with the expense of living, knowing what it will cost this and future generations to own anything (if they even want to) will take buckets of $. In my day a raise came by merit. Today not necessarily so but we all gotta eat!

                                                                                        People still remember how you make them feel. That goes for how you treat customers and how your boss treats you.

                                                                                        Confidence is important. How do you teach it? My son was trying (and succeeded) to set a tone with his boss early on. I recommend it. His tone wasn't disrespectful it was prideful. The boss took it well and never bothered with childish rewards set by Corporate again. My son's high level of attention to customers landed him a well paying job. Customers not only remember him but seek him out. He stands out because he cares about customer service. Strong eye contact, warm smile, focuses on YOU and what YOU need. You can teach superior customer service but only those who really believe in it succeed at it.

                                                                                        In my world, and I'm an old broad, thank you and money no longer have the same meaning. When I was younger and still working hard to earn wages, money and merit where important to me because my goals were always challenging.

                                                                                        I don't share what other people say about "life's too short" and "I can't be bothered" those attitudes have never landed me $$ in my pocket or merit.

                                                                                        People remember how you make them feel.

                                                                                        1. re: HillJ
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                                                                                          fourunder RE: HillJ Jan 15, 2014 11:50 AM

                                                                                          Well said.

                                                                                      2. re: HillJ
                                                                                        h
                                                                                        Harts52 RE: HillJ Jan 15, 2014 09:49 AM

                                                                                        You did a good job as a parent!!

                                                                                        1. re: Harts52
                                                                                          h
                                                                                          HillJ RE: Harts52 Jan 15, 2014 11:47 AM

                                                                                          Thank you, Harts52. I sure hope so.

                                                                                2. alkapal RE: Harts52 Jan 15, 2014 06:07 AM

                                                                                  i'm finding these varied responses to be very interesting.

                                                                                  i am imagining the kinds of jobs the various responders have, from how they approach this issue.

                                                                                  1. b
                                                                                    BobbieSue RE: Harts52 Jan 15, 2014 09:24 AM

                                                                                    I never hesitate to call the 800 number on the package, as I also learned in school that one person's feedback represents thousands who never call.

                                                                                    My calls mostly are about the "new and improved" version of something that is clearly not "improved" (it never is). Over the years I have becoming automatically suspicious of anything "new and improved" because it just about always relates to saving the company money by doing it cheaper. So I call them and mention the differences and why I will be looking elsewhere. I usually tell them I don't want any coupons, because I don't plan on using the product again (and I mean it).

                                                                                    1. g
                                                                                      givemecarbs RE: Harts52 Jan 15, 2014 11:23 PM

                                                                                      Thanks for starting this thread. I had a strange experience at my new Wegmans and have been mulling over how to proceed. Tonight (wednesday) at six pm over half the food court dining area was roped off for a private event, including the bathrooms and kiddy area.
                                                                                      The bathrooms in the front of the store were all in use and I thought I could just slip in and ;use the food court bathrooms. No dice. And the girl gatekeeper was so unfriendly about it that I can only guess that I was like the 87th person who had asked. I guess the pub patrons also had to use the bathrooms in front too.
                                                                                      I believe they have banquet rooms deeper in the back of the store and to rope off so much of the dining area at an early dinner hour seemed to be mighty unfriendly to regulars like myself. You have inspired me to give them a call. I'm usually pretty mellow but this just made me angry.

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