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Writing a complaint letter


chefpeon
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One would think being married to a pastry chef meant a ticket to culinary heaven......but in

my husband's case, it is sadly not true. By the time I get home from work, about the LAST thing

I wanna do is set foot in the kitchen. Truth be told, both me and my family eat like crap. I just

grab any food item that can be microwaved in under three minutes, and my husband and stepson are mostly on their own. Stepson lives on tortilla chips and lentils, while my husband will fry a steak, or eat a Swanson's Hungry Man Fried Chicken dinner, which he actually loves. But the poor dear finally came across a fried chicken dinner that somehow got by quality control at the ol' factory.

So disappointed was he, that he wrote this letter to the Swanson people, which I found rather amusing:

Dear People,

For nearly 50 years, since I was a young lad,  I’ve enjoyed your Classic, and now, Hungry Man  Classic Fried Chicken Dinner.  It has been generally been my comfort food of choice, reminding me of those special occasions of youth when my mother would put aside our usual routine and allow my sister and I to savor the exotic pleasures of TV Dinners in front of our old B&W Philco.

I’ve even enjoyed the occasionally quirky way the chickens were sometimes butchered.  It was always a challenge to guess at the correct avian anatomy through the layers of delicious batter.

This evening I was particularly challenged by one particular piece;  it was approximately 3”  in diameter, 1” thick and had an unusual cupped shape on the bottom.  Upon dissection I discovered that there was no anatomy to be determined. .  just a 1/4 pound loaf of fried batter.

Now I’m not usually one to complain. .  and in truth,  my ever expanding waistline will not miss another piece of chicken one bit.  But I am concerned that your quality control provisions may need a bit of review.

I certainly want to continue to purchase your product but if the already declining percentage of chicken is reduced to pure batter,  I’m afraid I’ll need to pursue another avenue to satiate my lust for fried chicken goodness.  ( Don’t worry,  I’d never eat Banquet.  Even on their best days I’d prefer your fried batter )

I’ve placed this doughy gem in my freezer should you want to examine it. .  or I could send you a photo ( which I’d suggest you have your line inspector wear for a day or two).

At any rate,  It is my fervent hope that some good will come of this tragedy and I can once again resume my love affair with your product.

Regards,

(Annie's husband)

P.S.  Thanks for getting rid of the peas and carrots combo.

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THAT is hilarious....... the letter takes me back to my early years and my own frozen entree of choice.........the Banquet Pot Pie. Ah, the memories of burning my mouth on those chicken pot pies that somehow managed to get hotter than the surface of the sun..........

Jerry

Kansas City, Mo.

Unsaved Loved Ones

My eG Food Blog- 2011

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OK, so the obvious follow-up--has he received a response yet? Your husband sounds like a kind, good-humoured guy--and he must be good folk if he loves fried chicken! :wub:

Please let us know if Swansons writes him back. I'm sure their response--if and when it comes--will be neither as witty nor as measured as your hubby's... :smile:

"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the ocean."

--Isak Dinesen

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I've always been afraid of the fried chicken dinners for precisely the reason stated in that letter -- I was never really sure WHAT PART of the chicken is contained under that breading.

Hope he gets a response, most times when I send a letter of constructive criticism to food manufacturers/purveyors, I never receive a response, or I just get a "thanks for writing, here's some coupons!" letter.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“A favorite dish in Kansas is creamed corn on a stick.”

-Jeff Harms, actor, comedian.

>Enjoying every bite, because I don't know any better...

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I just get a "thanks for writing, here's some coupons!" letter.

My husband is predicting that's what he'll get too, but he'd actually be happy with a coupon for

more fried chicken dinners.....

There's a show on the Science Channel called "How it's Made"......I'd really like to see how

the frozen TV dinners get put together. :laugh:

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Be careful of what you wish for- my wife and I recently saw an episode on "How it's Made" and while the topic wasn't frozen TV dinners, it was a generalized show about large scale chicken farms. We saw hundreds of chicken eggs being artificially incubated on conveyer belts, and at the moment of hatching, the eggs carried through seperation machines which removed the chick from the shell, then dropped into sorting chutes, sprayed with a vaccines/vitamen concoction and finally along another conveyer belt where they were manually inspected and seperated into male and female chicks. The workers would grasp each chick, inspect it then fling (literally fling ) the chicken onto another chute depending on the sex of the chick. It was a bit disturbing to see- I'm no vegetarian, neither is my wife and while we know where our food comes from, seeing it to this level of detail was unnecessary IMHO. So if you enjoy your meat, I suggest you stay away from "How it's Made" if they do have an episode about frozen TV dinners :biggrin: .

I just get a "thanks for writing, here's some coupons!" letter.

My husband is predicting that's what he'll get too, but he'd actually be happy with a coupon for

more fried chicken dinners.....

There's a show on the Science Channel called "How it's Made"......I'd really like to see how

the frozen TV dinners get put together. :laugh:

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I also recently wrote a letter, this one to a restaurant. My son-in-law had passed on a "Chicken Caesar" salad to me because he can't abide chopped onions. Chopped onions? Caesar salad has to be one of the most abused recipes of all time, but this one took the prize.

"Dear Sirs:

I was privileged to have my first Caesar Salad many years ago in one of the Cardini restaurants which claim to have originated the salad. Today, I had a so-called Caesar Salad from your establishment.

The Cardini Salad contained:

A fresh lemon and olive oil dressing

Hearts of Romaine

Lots of freshly grated Parmesan

Anchovies

Garlic croutons of French bread

Your “Caesar” salad contained:

Something that claims to be Caesar dressing,made with vinegar and soybean oil

Romaine outer leaves

About a teaspoon of powdered cheese

A smidge of anchovies in the dressing, per label

Cold pizza crust?

Red Onion!!!

Tomatoes!!!

CANNED mushrooms!!!

The Cardini salad also contained a coddled egg, but most everyone has given up on that due to health reasons. Yours also contains cold fried chicken, but since someone else ordered my salad, I cannot fault you for that. I hope that the chicken and bread were warm when purchased, but I do not hold out much hope of that.

How can you sell something as a Caesar Salad when it contains not a single “proper” ingredient from the original, and four totally improper ones?

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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There's a show on the Science Channel called "How it's Made"......I'd really like to see how

the frozen TV dinners get put together. :laugh:

I don't know if they have one on TV plates but the do show how Banquette Chicken is made.

Living hard will take its toll...
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  • 2 weeks later...

We got an envelope in the mail from Pinnacle Foods, parent company of Swanson.

Oh boy!

Inside was a form letter saying thank you for your contact, and a coupon for $4.00 off future Hungry Man entrees!

That should shut us up!

Enough to compensate for the fried dough ball I guess.

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We got an envelope in the mail from Pinnacle Foods, parent company of Swanson.

Oh boy!

Inside was a form letter saying thank you for your contact, and a coupon for $4.00 off future Hungry Man entrees!

That should shut us up!

Enough to compensate for the fried dough ball I guess.

And I'm sure they rushed right down to quality control and corrected the problem so it will never, ever, ever occur again!!!

My sister in law's father considered himself a wiley fellow. One day at the grocery store he saw a jar of olives with a hair in it. Didn't buy it, just moved it to the back of the shelf. He wrote the company complaining, and asked them if they wanted the jar as proof. Of course they didn't and he got a nice case of mixed pickle products and someone else got the jar with the hair in it.

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We got an envelope in the mail from Pinnacle Foods, parent company of Swanson.

Oh boy!

Inside was a form letter saying thank you for your contact, and a coupon for $4.00 off future Hungry Man entrees!

That should shut us up!

Enough to compensate for the fried dough ball I guess.

That's the standard response to quality control issues, but I once got a more personalized response from a frozen foods company after noticing that a package of food I'd just bought was TWO YEARS past its expiration date (I always check expiration dates on perishable foods before purchase, but didn't even think to look at frozen ones).

An email to the company produced an immediate response asking me to save the package and name the store/address where it was purchased. A few days later, I got a phone call from the regional sales manager who was following up the entire supply->distributor->store chain to see how a package that old could've remained on the shelf. The company was quite concerned and I'm glad to see they took such responsive action. Makes me trust them all the more. (And of course they sent out coupons for free products.)

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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I recommend resending the letter to the CEO of the company cc'ed to various vice presidents, etc. There are numerous online financial research site (Hoover's was one, but I don't know what their free search offers anymore) that can help you find the proper names and addresses.

I haven't written to a food company before, but I was on a tear a few years back with a series of thoughtful, slightly wry letters complaining about subpar products. Usually "rugged" shoes that fell apart in no time, but once I wrote Swiss Army Brands about three watches I'd owned that all broke easily, failing to live up to the company's solid image.

In each case, I received a prompt reply and usually an arrangement for a free replacement whatever. In Swiss Army's case (and I had documented each watch's faults), the CEO mailed me two free watches to replace the ones that I lost when their bands snapped, plus an addressed FedEx envelope to send in the one I still had for repairs.

I'm not saying they'll mail you some chicken dinners, but with a letter that good, you're likely to get a personal and interesting reply if you send it somewhere other than the auto-response customer service center.

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What was it that Mark Twain said about laws and sausages again? Some folks just gotta learn the hard way, I guess... :laugh::wink:

Be careful of what you wish for- my wife and I recently saw an episode on "How it's Made" and while the topic wasn't frozen TV dinners, it was a generalized show about large scale chicken farms.

[gory details snipped]

So if you enjoy your meat, I suggest you stay away from "How it's Made" if they do have an episode about frozen TV dinners  :biggrin: .

There's a show on the Science Channel called "How it's Made"......I'd really like to see how

the frozen TV dinners get put together. :laugh:

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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ok this is kind of the same but a differing story on the same subject..I bought a frozen food from Trader Joes...both my husband and I got so violently ill with in two hours of eating it I knew it was this stuff in a bag we had consumed because it was the only thing we had eaten in at least a day that was the same ....I pulled the bag out of the trash and washed it put it in a ziploc bag.and took it back to the store and told them how sick we got..they gave us back our money took our name and address and the bag ...

I am such a dork ..and considering I am a nurse I should have known better!!! why on earth did I wash the bag?????? when they sent it back to the company no one could test it for anything!!! The company sent a long letter explaining the issue of the clean bag and why it did not serve them any purpose...I felt like an idiot after all ..I do know about germs and soap duh!!!!

lesson ..if you get sick on frozen food they want the bag back dirty so they can test it!

I am sure that is obvious to anyone but me at that time ....

glad you got at least a coupon for the dough ball!!!

Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)
why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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Being in a bad mood one day, I bought a Maple and Pecan Pie from Marks and Spencer. On getting back home, where I was hosting a mini-dinner party, I didn't open the packet until dessert. When I did, the pie was fine, but was tiny compared to the size of the packaging and the picture on the front, and it didn't taste that great. In fact, I ended up throwing it out.

Seeing as that didn't make my bad mood any better, I wrote a letter to M&S outlining my concerns about the pie and how it had spoilt the party (it didn't really).

I didn't hear anything for several weeks, until a letter finally found its way to me, desite half of my address missing on the label. Inside were vouchers for twice the value of the pie and a letter promising to investigate.

To this day (two years later) I have never come across a maple and pecan pie in another M&S store. It might have been a poor pie, but I didn't intend to get a whole product line withdrawn from sale!

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  • 11 months later...

mcohen, can you elaborate? What's the nature of your complaint?

Earlier this year I emailed Loblaw Companies Ltd. with a complaint regarding their Club Pack Garlic Powder.

I believe what made my message successful was the attachment of two photos:

gallery_42214_5579_4929.jpg

gallery_42214_5579_1018.jpg

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Anybody ever had any success with writing a complaint letter for a food product they bought? And, if so, what made it so succesful?

Have not done it , but from a professional perspective I can tell you a brief recitation of the facts plus a clear statement of fact that shows why their actions harmed you is most effective. Can you share your facts? Also, what are you trying to achieve- a refund, or is there actual harm?

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Yowza!

Peter! What did the company offer you in regard to the fly-laden garlic powder?

My husband wrote to Swanson when he got just a hunk of batter in his Hungry Man Fried Chicken Dinner instead of batter-covered chicken, and he got a coupon for a couple of future frozen dinners.

I think if you word your letter concisely, and calmly, and include facts and photos, you'll get a great response.

As opposed to a letter espousing your mental anguish and that you plan to sue for a few million dollars. :wink:

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For basic consumer products (what you'd get in the grocery) I've had the best luck calling the 800 number that's generally printed on the packaging. Typically, you'll get a refund for the product along with a few extra coupons for future purchases.

Examples: I had a bad box of ziploc bags once, and they made it right for us. We had a Lunchable for the kiddo that was messed up, and they made that right too. And once (I'm ashamed to admit) I bought those tube refrigerator cookies with the holiday inclusions and they totally delaminated when we sliced them. My kids cried, and we got coupons for many holidays in the future.

I'm sure there are others, but generally in my experience, you call the 800 number and they want to make sure you're happy.

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Ohhh...you're opening up the floodgates of horror stories here!

I also prefer the 1-800 route these days. I went to an unnamed international Mexican

fast food restaurant that rhymes with Paco Hell. That was my first mistake. I went at 9 pm, two hours before closing. The crew was already cleaning for close which included washing the floor in the kitchen. Apparently they do that by putting an inch of water over the whole floor and the staff walks through it. When we got to the counter a young team member was pouring some chemical from the bottle onto the water on the floor and sloshing around in her shoes.

She saw us and came to take our orders. We were already woozy from the fumes, but didn't want to be rude. She took our orders to which the line cooks started hustling. At one point the cook called to our order taker to get a chalupa shell, which she promptly did - with no gloves, after having handled the chemical bottle.

We got our food, walked out, dropped the bag of food in the trash can, and called the 1-800 number. Now to your question...we just stayed objective, provided the facts and let the horror of the whole situation sit with the minimum wage paid customer service rep. She used her script to tell us how sorry she was for our inconvenience. Her script then told her to offer us a replacement meal - "Oh, yeah, thanks, but no thanks." The coupons arrived days later and were promptly tossed in the trash.

Moral of the story - decide what realistic conclusion you want to your story and your letter will follow.

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I've had mixed results. One e-mail was to Contessa. I had purchased a bag of their IQF shrimp, and since it was the jumbo shrimp it was pretty "spend-y". I thawed the shrimp according to the package instructions, and when I cooked them up, they had the unmistakable flavor and aroma of spoiled crustacean.....that tell-tale ammonia taste/smell. I took one bite and ditched the dinner and the rest of the bag I hadn't defrosted. I sent them an e-mail, non-judgemental or accusatory, just the facts. I got a very nice, apologetic e-mail back, and 3 coupons in the mail. One for a free, replacement bag of the shrimp (which costed out at about 17 bux, the checker was absolutely ASTOUNDED) and a couple more for their pre-prepared, frozen seafood entrees. Which I haven't used yet, but which have no expiration date. I was pleased. I'll keep buying Contessa products.

The other one was to a pet food company (ok, a bit OT, but its important to me.....and sorta food related....). One of my dogs is on a prescription diet, and the last several batches have had this gross residue on the top of the food that I've had to scrape out. I sent pix to the company and they were like, "that's normal. Deal with it." I *DON'T* think its normal, but I do *HAVE* to deal with it, since unfortunately, I have to keep using it, and gagging while I scrape the black goo out of the can. No impact on the dog, thankfully.

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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Yowza!

Peter! What did the company offer you in regard to the fly-laden garlic powder?

My husband wrote to Swanson when he got just a hunk of batter in his Hungry Man Fried Chicken Dinner instead of batter-covered chicken, and he got a coupon for a couple of future frozen dinners.

I think if you word your letter concisely, and calmly, and include facts and photos, you'll get a great response.

As opposed to a letter espousing your mental anguish and that you plan to sue for a few million dollars.  :wink:

If it's the letter I am thinking of, it was hilarious, too! I think that might help a letter of complaint stand out and get a response.

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I bought a rolled Jenni-o turkey breast. It was rubbery and spongy and I e-mailed the company. I got an apology and six $2.00 for their products. I tried one and tossed the rest of the coupons.

Also e-mailed Orowheat bread about the lack of Northridge breads and was told they had dropped this product. I don't know whether I should protest the drop in quality of their English Muffins and rye bread.

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