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Jan 10, 2014 08:34 AM

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

"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 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. 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

      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. "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. 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

          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

            Sorry viperlush, I mean to reply to the OP

            1. re: viperlush

              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

                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

                  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

                    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

                      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

                        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

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

                      2. re: viperlush

                        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

                          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. 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

                      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

                        multi-grain scoops are fabulous.

                      1. re: alkapal

                        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

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

                          1. re: Harts52

                            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.