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I’m just going to shop at Whole Foods for Seafood from now on. I should have known better. Sometimes, I just don’t want to spend the money for fresh fish, but you get what you pay for.

Anyhow, I wrote this letter to the Trader Joe’s feedback hotline. I’ll keep you posted as to what happens. In any case, this will be a good study on how to handle a customer who is extremely dissatisfied with their product.

I should point out- I’m not mad, but disappointed. It could happen where I work, and I’m interested to figure out how it’s handled. Good or bad, you’ll know the outcome. Here’s the letter:

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Hi,

I was recently in your Chicago store, and I picked up a package of your Mahi Mahi Pieces. We were having family visit from out of town, and I wanted something light and summery, so I picked out fish tacos using your Mahi. I was in a rush, and the deal, for $3.49/lb seemed like a great deal. The package said “Product of Peru”. I bought one, brought it home, and threw it in the freezer. We didn’t get to eat it with family, but I’m lucky we didn’t.

We kept it in the freezer and thawed it out a few days later under cool running water, in the package.  When I opened the package, it smelled old. Very old. Not only that, but being that it was not IQF, the texture and the smell meant that they were frozen, thawed, and refrozen.

This is not a problem that affects only my package, because issues like this are not relegated to one package. If it were improperly handled from packaging to store, the vacuum seal would have been broken. Thank you for handling the product correctly.

My issue is the quality of the product to begin with. I’ve spent 12 years of my life in the seafood industry, and every once in a great while, I’d get emails from wholesalers saying, for example, that they had 3600 pallets of frozen mahi bits in cold storage on the docks in Los Angeles or Miami. It was usually product of a South American Country, and the price was usually between 49 to 79 cents a pound. This is where mahi pieces come from.

I never purchased them for my operation, because I had no use for them and my business never dealt in that volume. I never thought that they would be such an inferior product.

I’m fully aware of the steps to determine whether or not a product has gone bad, but this product was just bad enough to not throw away. In hindsight, I probably should have put them in the trash. The smell was poor, the texture was unacceptable, and it cooked up with an aftertaste that was thoroughly unsatisfying.

If you believe that this is an isolated incident, please let me know, as I’ll take my inquiries to the home store directly. I understand that a large part of your business is increasing basket size due to active sampling, but there is no way that your stores could comfortably sample this inferior product to customers and expect them to buy it. The smell alone, even masked with onions, garlic, and a Simmer sauce as I did at home, was only enough to realize that it was of poor quality, but not bad enough to make you sick. There may be some that are better than the package I purchased, but there are also some that are of poorer quality. If you believe differently, please have your crew sample the product in a way that makes it palatable, and I will be happy to change my tune. I am skeptical if only because I know the purchasing practices of large scale seafood operations, and this problem will not be fixed without a recall of all the product currently from that batch on the shelves.  I bought the mahi, without sampling from your staff, and I now know that I’ve made a huge mistake. Have your staff try it to make sure they don’t keep ‘selling extra low quality seafood’ as one of their best practices. The staff are so enthusiastic, I think they would not care to sell a product that they couldn’t stand behind. I know I wouldn’t.

I do like a variety of products that you carry, but I will not be purchasing seafood, and will be scaling back my excursions to your stores until I am satisfied that the quality problem has been addressed and resolved. Please let me know what steps you are taking to ensure that no mahi mahi pieces of such poor quality will go out to customers again. If you assure me that the product issues have been addressed, and I take your word, buy it and find out that it is in fact still the same D-grade fish, my business will be going elsewhere.

Thank you for listening. Please alert me to any steps being taken to fix this problem.

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