Home » Uncategorized » How Companies Shoot Themselves in the Foot Without Really Trying

This email exchange could be the “Poster Child” for how not to “do” customer service. Names have been deleted to protect the offender.

Me: Today I opened a box of (Name of Company) 12 Taco Shells. Much to my surprise, there were only 10 shells in the box. The UPC code is XXXXX XXXXXX. It seems like you have a quality control problem. My address is _____________ if you would like to send me the $2.39 that I paid for 12 taco shells.

The Company’s Response: Subject: RE: Taco shells

To ensure that our staff conducts itself in a manner that reflects the high regard that we have for our customers, we’ve notified the proper department of your complaint.

If you send the receipt or the proof of purchase with the attached Refund Request form, we will reimburse you for the objectionable product. In the meantime, I’m sending the enclosed coupons because we value your goodwill and would like to give you the opportunity to try our products again. If you have questions or comments in the future, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

We appreciate your time in bringing your concern to our attention and apologize for this problem.


(Name of Company)
Customer Service Department

Me: Dear (Name of Company): There were no coupons attached to your email, only a refund form.

May I also suggest the following:

1.Change the word “complaint” to “inquiry”.
2.Change the word “objectionable” to “product in question”.
3.Do not make it difficult for customers who take the time to write to you to obtain coupons or refunds. A UPC code should be satisfactory.
4.Have an actual “person” sign your email responses.
5.Remember that without customers, you have no business 

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

, , ,

One Response to “How Companies Shoot Themselves in the Foot Without Really Trying”

  1. July 6th, 2010 at 12:37 | #1

    I continue to be dismayed (I am no longer “amazed”) when companies make it so difficult to rectify problems of their own making, and communicating to customers as though they were the problem. In this day and age, companies should be smart enough to know when a customer has a legitimate complaint rather than trying to scam them, and they then should be able to make amends immediately and at no cost to the customer. That ability to identify trustworthy customers and act accordingly then builds trust and loyalty with the customer instead of undermining it.

    AT&T, Northwest Airlines, Staples.com, and Starbucks have all done an excellent job for me in resolving my complaints, and I’ve praised them and remained loyal to them for years as a result.

    Aneil Mishra, Ph.D.

Add reply