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So, I’ve been away, but I’m BACK! (I think).

I moved shop, and now I sit and type from a different location. I realize that I’ve left the last part of my bad fish saga out- the response from what now everyone can guess is Trader Joe’s. Here, in its entirety, is their letter:


Thank you for providing this valuable feedback. We would like to extend
our apologies for the disappointing experience you had with the Trader
Joe’s Mahi Mahi Pieces. We have notified our Quality Assurance Manager
and the appropriate buyer regarding your experience, and we will
continue to monitor this product for future trends. We believe that
quality is essential to good value, and that’s what we are all about!

We also wanted to make sure you are aware of our “Product Guarantee.” If
you are dissatisfied with any product purchased in our stores, you can
take it, the empty package or receipt back to any of our neighborhood
stores for an exchange or full refund. We stand behind our motto, “We
tried it! We liked it! If you don’t, bring it back for a full refund, no
questions asked.”

At Trader Joe’s, we are always striving to improve, and your comments
give us the opportunity to do just that.

Thank you,

Nicki K.
Trader Joe’s
Customer Relations


Now, that didn’t really address my concerns. How would they feel if they were forced to eat that? I guess all they can do is say that they’re sorry, and remind people of their store policy, which is exactly what they did. Going just as far as needed serves to get me to shut up. I hope they feel the icy sting of lost business as they take their money drop to the bank.

From my point of view, it’s simple: If someone takes the time to articulate their problem with your store, service, or business model, and it is a glaring error on your part, assure them that you are going to fix it, do something about it, and make sure they know. I asked someone in the store what the best avenue would be, and they said that their customer service department online would be the best equipped to handle my particular issue. Why? I have no idea. I would circumvent the store level, take my complaint up the ladder, and the problem would fall right back down to the computer screen of the guy sitting behind the desk to whom I was just talking. Too much trouble.

Here’s what I’ve learned to do: Pacify the customer. Satisfy them. Make sure that they feel their concern is being validated and heard, and then do something about it. I often see customers come into my store with issues about their food: a pear was overripe, my steak was tough, my cereal didn’t taste the same as it usually does.

Now, where’s the next step? If you stand behind the mission of your company, apologize. You don’t have to agree with them, but apologize. Next, find the offending product. If you have the means, offer them a replacement. Giving up $3 worth of product isn’t going to hurt your business in the long run, if your model is sound. If it is, you need to do some adjusting of said model. What’s worse to you? “Losing” $3, or losing the customer’s business from that point on out?

I’m not in it for the free product. I’m in it for the principle. If someone shows concern for me as a customer, whether it is a locally owned business, restaurant or bar, or at a National grocery store chain, they have my business. It’s what sets them apart. From my side of the counter, it’s simple. Treat people how you as a customer would want to be treated, even if they’re slightly offputting. To a certain point, give them the benefit of the doubt, and believe that they want to purchase your wares and be informed and charmed by your great customer service. It means money in your pocket. If you can’t handle said customer, and there’s someone else better equipped to do so, let them assist you.

Walk with them to help them find a new pear, together. If you’re an expert on pears, show them what you look for. If you’re a butcher, help them find a great new steak. If you agree with them that the Peanut Butter Cashew Honey Nut Chimpanzee Crunch isn’t your favorite, help them find something else that you like. It will be appreciated. If you show the effort and personal investment in helping someone out, they will fill your pockets. Hopefully not with Peanut Butter Cashew Honey Nut Chimpanzee Crunch. Unless you’re into that sort of thing.