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Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word

June 12, 2009

The sponge

A friend of mine recently bought a bag of what she thought would be delicious snacks for her family.. only to be horribly disappointed.. and in more ways than one.

Elaine picked up a bag of Humpty Dumpty Cruncheez while grocery shopping.. brought them home and threw them in the cupboard.  A few days later her son pulled the bag out, looking for a treat.. and instead found a disgusting green cleaning sponge in the bag with the cheesy snacks.


CFIA taking sample

The cheese/cleaning fluid combination was so repulsive that both she and her son became nauseated and sick.  Elaine sealed the bag and made some calls.. the first to the Old Dutch Corporation, who owns Humpty Dumpty to report what she found.

She spoke with someone in customer service/quality control and also called the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.  Old Dutch asked for a sample of the sponge, but she said no as she wanted to give it to CFIA.   


CFIA inspects bag

Canadian Food Inspection Agency came to see Elaine and took samples back to their lab to analyze.  CFIA determined that indeed, it was a cleaning sponge that had fallen into a bag of the Cruncheez before being sealed.  CFIA inspected the Old Dutch plant and determined that the sponge did come from their plant.  It was determined to be an “isolated incident” and “inconclusive” as far as exactly how the sponge got in the bag, but it appeared to be accidental.

The CFIA wrote Elaine a letter explaining their findings.  Then Elaine attempted to get in touch with Old Dutch by phone and email to find out what they were going to do.  And she waited some more.   Finally, they sent her a letter. The letter from the Old Dutch Corporation cited that they had determined that there was “no failure at this time” and that “we will do everything in our power to ensure this does happen in the future”.. (hoping that’s a typo and not a Freudian slip)..  They also informed Elaine that they do not offer monetary compensation for non-injury claims, but had offered to give her a few coupons for some chips.  She told them not to bother.

Elaine was extremely angry with the response by Old Dutch.  For one, she says she’ll never purchase Old Dutch or Humpty Dumpty products again and therefore the coupons would be useless to her.  She was upset that they didn’t even offer to refund her money.  Not only that, but her treatment by the employee at Old Dutch was not the best to say the least.  She felt they were lax (she had to chase them to even get a return call) and initially she felt that they treated her like a liar.. as if she had made the whole thing up just to gouge them out of some money.



When I asked Elaine what she had wanted to happen.. what COULD have made this right for her, it was very simple. The things that galled her the most was the fact that not ONCE did they ever even say SORRY.  The carefully worded letter she received avoided admitting any responsibility whatsoever.  They didn’t seem to care that she and her son had become ill from their product.  In order for them to make this right for her, and to retain her customer loyalty, all they had to do was apologize.

In the current economic climate, you’d think that most businesses would want to retain as many customers as possible.  After all, it’s much harder to win back a disgruntled customer once you’ve lost them.  And often an unhappy customer whose problem is resolved to their satisfaction can become that company’s biggest ally.   Customer service is supposed to be just that. It’s not called business service.  The point is to resolve the situation to the customer’s satisfaction, not the company’s.

And often times all it takes is an apology.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Alicia permalink
    June 12, 2009 5:51 pm

    That is terrible! I remember chipping a tooth on a pebble that was baked inside “bagel street” bagel I bought in Vancouver once. I had to get a veneer front tooth that cost over $1000 and the company wouldn’t even apologize or admit it!

    • Beth Warren permalink
      June 12, 2009 6:01 pm

      Holy mackeral! that is just awful. When someone is injured or there’s some kind of damage.. I really think companies should do the right thing. Too many do not. Sucks.

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