Thursday, April 12, 2012

CEO to the Rescue: Turning a Bad Situation Around


Do you recall my blog from Monday: “The Manischewitz Pie Crust Debacle”? It was the story of the “uncuttable” crust, the result of a faulty product distributed to supermarkets by the company…or so we thought. When my wife wrote a letter of complaint to customer service early Sunday, an automated response said all emails would be answered on Monday. Come end of day Monday, we had still not heard. Not what we have come to expect in the 24/7 internet age.

Then lightning struck on Tuesday morning, when no less than the co-president and CEO, Paul Bensabat, sent the following email:

“First let me apologize profusely for your bad experience with one of our products. I feel horrible that you not only were not pleased with this product but also got embarrassed in front of your friends. If you‘ll allow me, I need to understand in greater details what happened because frankly it is the first time that we are hearing this type of complaint and we need to get to the bottom of it to find out what could be the cause. Would you please be kind enough to give me a phone number where I can call you later today or tomorrow to discuss this matter? I would greatly appreciate it.”

We assume that Monday’s blog — plus my wife’s note — inspired a C-suite officer, the co-president himself, to respond. My wife sent him her number and, true to his word, he called later that afternoon. A turnaround was at hand. The co-chief executive explained that this was the second year that the pie shells were on the market and ours was the first complaint about them. Despite the fact that the shells come ready to use and require no baking, his staff had spent the morning freezing, baking and just leaving them in the oven for close to an hour trying to duplicate our experience of having a shell that was harder than cardboard and impossible to cut.

Mr. Bensabat asked if we still had the original packaging (which we did not) or noted the “best by” date on it (which we also did not). My wife explained that she had purchased the crusts in our local supermarket and that they stocked their Passover products at least six weeks in advance. He explained that they have a shelf life of about nine months and that this year’s batch was baked in October. He further explained that macaroon pie crust products, because of the moisture in them, cannot be kept from one year to the next, which can be done with dry matzo products.

The pie shells, he said, would become hard as a rock if they were left over from Passover 2011 and put back on the shelves this year. It is likely, he asserted, that the supermarket did exactly that. Mr. Bensabat said he intended to send one of his employees to the Stop & Shop, where my wife made her purchase, to ensure that the problem would not happen again.

To make up for this unfortunate and embarrassing experience, Mr. Bensabat is also sending us a basket of their new products and said he “hopes that we will continue to use Manischewitz products in the future.”

We will.

It appears that in this situation, the fault was not Manischewitz’s. Were we jumping to conclusions? How else would we know the ostensible truth had we not written a blog, fired an email to customer service and been lucky enough to have a sensitive CEO engage with his customers. The wonder of communications! The wonder of the internet!

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