Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Letter to the supermarket weenies

Way back in September, I posted an entry about a couple of teenaged grocery store employees who shot a satirical video and were subsequently fired and sued by the good folks at the A&P (click here to read it and see the video.)

The company sued them for $1 million, saying this was the amount of business they lost because of the video. I found that laughable, and tossed it around my head for a bit. After about a month of stewing, I was feeling somewhat self righteous one evening. So I wrote a nasty letter to A&P and e-mailed it to them. I thought you might find it an entertaining read:
To whom it may concern,

I find it amusing that you use value of lost business as validation for the size of your lawsuit against these two young men. Do you really think that you lost $1 million in business immediately following the release of this video?

If you were managed by individuals who were perhaps more aware of how companies should adapt to the new social media-aware economy, you might have seen this video as a marketing opportunity. Instead, you've betrayed your old-school approach to management and convinced the next generation of grocery shoppers that you really have no clue.

If anything threatens your bottom line, it is the substandard way in which your stores are run. To wit, I went shopping at the store near my home here in London, Ontario a couple of weeks ago. From afar, I noticed a stand of blueberries and thought on impulse that I should bring home a basket.

As I approached the stand, I noticed the entire area was infested with swarming fruit flies. I alerted an employee and was greeted with a shrug. I escalated the issue to the manager on duty, and was told that's how they were received. Needless to say, I didn't buy the blueberries. Or anything else.

A parody video by two young men with a future isn't going to keep me from shopping at A&P. Fly-encrusted fruit displays will.

Carmi Levy
London, Ontario, Canada
writteninc AT gmail DOT com
I e-mailed this note at 8:41 p.m. on October 10 of this year. I haven't heard back from them, nor do I expect to. Great customer relations, A&P.

Your turn: Do you complain to companies? Why/why not? Got a story to share?


photowannabe said...

On occasion we have complained to companies and have gotten very little response.
Lately my Hubby and I have taken to writting letters of affirmation about outstanding clerks, waitress and various service personal. People seem shocked that we want to say something nice. We just did this on Monday at our local CostCo. The checker and bagger were so friendly and helpful and actually made eye contact and smiled. We talked to their manager and he was pleased and asked us to write an accomendation to be put in their files, which we did. And you know, we felt so good about doing it. It made our day too.

kenju said...

I have complained before and gotten little result, but I still do it. Lately I had a problem with my cell phone company; I should have written a nastier letter to them and then called the local TV station, but I let it fall by the wayside. Shame on me.

carli said...

I write e-mails all the time. Sometimes they're even positive.
A&P sucks here too but they're too close not to go. Thankfully there's a great fruit stand on the way home from work where I get all my produce.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Yep. I've gotten no response and stopped going there (Ritz Camera) and just last week got a lovely response from the folk at Sephora, when the local sales staff had ignored me and #2.

Your letter was great, Carmi.

Heidi said...

I definitely let someone know (i.e. a manager)when I think there is something that they should be alerted to.

I especially praise employees to managers when they have done an outstanding job. I think that this sometimes might affect change in a greater way... service industry people get tired of hearing complaints ALL of the time.

I absolutely LOVE your letter, though. Your best point is how the company should have capitalized on an opportunity to up its game. Very good!

Linda said...

I do complain. And, like you, I rarely receive an answer or acknowledgement. But that's okay. Because sometimes, I do see improvement where my complaint was centered.

I complain because I firmly believe that the "squeaky wheel gets the oil". If I say something, it gets fixed, and it's better for everyone. Being passive won't change anything. That being said, I don't go overboard and throw tantrums to get my way.

But, when I complain about something, I have gotten good feedback. I complained to the Huggies mfg once because I got a package of diapers and on almost half of them, the side tab ripped off as I tried to open them. Huggies, in reply, sent a coupon for TWO free packages of diapers, along with several dollar off coupons. And I got coupons on a regular basis after that. At the very least, a company will compensate you for your complaint. And when you see changes for the better, it is always worth it!

deputyswife said...

Hi Carmi! I hope you don't mind, but I am commenting on this post. I remembered your previous post about those two kids, and I remember thinking how crazy it the whole situation was.

I do have a story about contacting a company. A few years ago, we were in a city, in another state, sitting with my brother in a hospital. He had had a heart attack while in that state for business. After a very long day at the hospital, we (my father, mother, husband, sister, and I) decided we wanted a nice sit down supper. It was 8:30 pm and good Italian food sounded good. We went to a upcoming chain, that served TRUE Italian cuisine. We showed up, a little tired and haggard, and were refused a table.

It was a week-night, the place was half empty. The waitress gave us the once over and said there was no available tables. We asked how long of a wait and she replied "two hours." She was terribly rude. Needless to say, we did not eat there.

I was so upset, I decided to call the restaurant's manager a couple of weeks later. He was also rude and could not be bothered. Which THAT infuriated me even more. I looked up the chain's CFO and CEO. I emailed them. In two weeks, I received a personal letter from the owner of the restaurant(s). He apologized for his employee's behavior. He also gave my family a $100 gift certificate. He also included his card with his personal cell phone number with instructions to call him if ever I had a problem at any of his restaurants.

I mailed him a letter thanking him for his kindness. Really, he didn't have to include the generous gift certificate. Yet, he did to make things right with his customer.

Whenever possible, we still frequent his restaurants.