I Always Feel Like... Somebody's Watching Me!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

It Pays to Complain

That's my life motto, at least when it comes to contacting customer service departments....

It has happened now and again that I've been dissatisfied with some of my favorite products. If we find a toothpaste or cheese or cracker that we love - we habitually buy it, as I'm sure this is the case with most of you. We love our Tom's of Maine toothpaste and haven't used conventional brands for quite awhile (the synthetic stuff really tastes harsh once you've gone the "natural" route). I buy a lot of Full Circle organic products because they are relatively inexpensive in that particular market. However, 1 out of 10 times, something goes wrong. And that's when it pays to get on the computer and send an email complaint.

Here are a few examples of the great responses I've gotten in the past couple of years.

1. Babybel Cheese: it's a luxury item for us at the grocery store. I usually have to rush past that part of the dairy section so Ayla doesn't hunt it down and start yelling, "I want circle cheese!" It's delicious, but a little pricey. Each little wheel of cheese is encased in a wax cover, which makes this a very exciting snack in our household. But once I opened my Babybel cheese in tasty anticipation, only to find it was moldy and rotten inside. Really gross. A quick email was sent to their complaint department and lo! and behold, some coupons were sent for a free replacement and $1.00 off for future purchases. Needless to say, we're still enjoying Babybel cheese... a lot.

2. Tribe Hummus: this time the product was moldy within one day of opening the package. They responded with coupons, which was the most that I expected. Only this company sent me a t-shirt too! It says something like, "This ain't your momma's dip." This happened maybe 3 years ago and I'm still using the leftover coupons.

3. Full Circle Raspberry Spread: same problem, moldy almost immediately. I know it's an organic product without preservatives - but I buy enough organic to know this is not normal. When I'm paying double for a product, I would like it to last more than a few days. Especially with jelly... I don't know anyone who goes through jelly that fast. I sent an email, but didn't get a response until a month later when coupons showed up in the mail. I received multiple $2 free of any Full Circle product. Sweet! Although I'm not risking it with that jelly again.

4. Wendy's: this time Gregory suffered to get us some coupons. One night at the drive-thru, he was literally verbally assaulted by the staff when he drove around the building. They were all sitting outside taking a smoke break (classy!) and yelled, "F--- you!" when he pulled into the drive-thru lane. This was at least an hour before closing time. An email was sent and a few weeks later, our coupons for free items arrived. I chose to use a different Wendy's to redeem my free salad - at least 5 hours before closing time. :)

5. Tom's of Maine Toothpaste: Ayla, with her infinite ability to hurt herself, cut her little hands on the aluminum packaging while trying to brush her teeth "all by herself". We spend typically about $5 for each tube of toothpaste because it's all-natural and free of scary chemicals. The problem with this packaging is that it almost always breaks or obviously develops sharp edges. But Ayla loves her mango toothpaste! Plus their gingermint flavor is my favorite.

Their website is the best - useful FAQ's and information about ingredients. The aluminum packaging is necessary because of the natural oils AND it is completely recyclable. Tom's promptly sent us a new kid's toothpaste and a toothpaste roller. I remember using this growing up, but had completely forgotten about it. I have to say, problem solved!

I'm not a complainer by nature, but when it comes to my money spent and especially when I am a very loyal customer - it really pays to contact customer service. I'm always impressed that companies still respond. And every time they've sent coupons, in my mind, all is forgiven. It may only be two dollars lost here and there, but the principle is that I like these products and don't really want to change.


  1. I am totally with you on this. I've done this a number of times with various hotel stays and have received a free weekend (two times) from two different chains. Also with make-up and other stuff. I don't do it all of the time, either, but when something is just NOT right, it totally helps out the grocery bill at the end of the day!

  2. I just got a new type of makeup from Organic Wear that is absolutely terrible... the bad news? Their website doesn't have any sort of contact info! I can't complain!!!