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3 of the best and worst responses to customer complaints

By Fiona Ness on Tue 18 November 2014 in Topical

Whether you complain to companies via email, Twitter or Facebook one thing is certain, that companies have become far more inventive with their responses.


Yes, you get the usual ‘We’re sorry to hear that’, but we’ve found some of the best and funniest responses to customer complaints.

Customer service is a crucial part of every company, but that doesn’t always mean they get it right. Whether you use Twitter, Facebook, email or a good old fashioned phone call to raise your concerns you expect a satisfactory and prompt response. We’ve found some examples of companies getting their customer service right and wrong.

3 of the best

  1. Sainsbury’s consider changing the name of tiger bread to giraffe bread
    The complaint: Lilly, age 3 ½ wrote a letter to Sainsbury’s asking “why tiger bread is called tiger bread? It should be called giraffe bread.” Based on her observation that the crust looks more like a giraffe than a tiger.
    The response: Sainsbury’s customer manager Chris King agreed with Lily and questioned the knowledge of the original baker, writing a letter saying the change of name is a “brilliant idea – it does look more like the blotches on a giraffe” and “maybe they [the original baker] were a bit silly.” King also included a £3 voucher for Lilly to buy some tiger bread and sweets, if that was OK with her Mum and Dad.
  2. Tesco reimburse shopper for mouldy garlic to fight off vampires
    The complaint: A Tesco customer went to Twitter to complain about his mouldy garlic:
    “Hey @Tesco my still-in-date-by-a-week garlic is mouldy. How am I supposed to fight off vampires now? (how do I address the issue?)”
    The response: Tesco sent the customer a letter starting “I do hope that by the time you receive this you have not had to encounter any vampires, mouldy garlic is not the suitable tool to use in such a situation.” As well as providing a £2 gift card Tesco hoped that “this situation has not turned you away from purchasing your survival kit against the undead and unworldly beings from us.”
  3. Wife said no, but Apple said yes
    The complaint: This one is less of a complaint to a company, but more a wife complaining about their husband spending loads of money. An Apple customer returned his iPad with a post it stating “Wife said no”.
    The response: As the return was within the first few weeks of the iPad launch all returns were being closely monitored. This post it was therefore picked up by two senior members of staff who decided to fully refund the iPad AND return it with another post it that said “Apple said yes.” Now I don’t have a wife, but I know you have to be pretty nervy to disagree with them in an argument.

3 of the worst

  1. Southwest Airlines kick man off flight for complaint tweet
    The complaint: Whilst waiting to board a flight Duff Watson tweeted Southwest Airlines to complain about a rude agent who refused his children priority boarding with him.
    The response: After boarding the plane Watson and his children were announced over the tannoy and told to get off the flight immediately. Turns out Southwest Airlines refused to let them fly until Watson deleted his tweet complaining about the customer service he received. Southwest Airlines offered the family $50 each as a gesture of goodwill and sent an apology email.
  2. United Airlines forget to fill in the blanks
    The complaint: We don’t know what the original complaint was in this situation, probably because United Airlines failed to address the issue, at all. After complaining about an experience with United Airlines a Reddit user received what looked like a template response letter which is fine. But the sender of this letter forgot to fill in any of the blanks. Needless to say a letter addressing your (SPECIFIC EVENT) and (CUSTOMER NAME) doesn’t do much in the way of building customer loyalty.
    The response (to the original response): United Airlines have since said that they cannot confirm whether the letter was legitimate or not. However if they can find out the identity of the customer they would like to rectify the situation.
  3. Man charged £750 by Lloyds for going £2.67 overdrawn
    The complaint: Oliver Foster-Burnell was charged £20 a day for going over his overdraft by £2.67. It took 2 weeks for Lloyds to send the letter notifying him of these charges and ultimately left him with total charges of £750, as well as additional debt after the repayments causing him to default on credit cards.
    The response: The initial response from Llloyds is unknown however in September Mr Foster-Burnell won his legal battle against the bank meaning they were forced to repay the charges plus interest and compensation. In addition this case will now be taken to high court. If Mr Foster-Burnell wins again the banking sector could pay out up to £30 million.

So there you have it, the best and worst responses to customer complaints. If you’re concerned about how you handle your complaints process why not speak get in touch to see if we could help?