When ‘Customer Care’ doesn’t quite seem to care – An open letter (and a bit of a rant)

I recently purchased a bottle of sparkling wine from a local supermarket -it was a wine I wanted to try, and it was fridged as soon as I got home, ready for the grand unveiling.

It’s a new variant of an old favourite, produced by our largest producer, who now appear to have had their brands swallowed by an either larger brewery (although for some unfathomable reason they have dropped ‘brewery’ from their title).

De-fridged, I whipped off the foil capsule with some aplomb, and gently started to remove the cork. Unfortunately, the top half of the cork came out, leaving the balance still in the neck. Now considering the pressure (hopefully) built up underneath this partial closure, I was a little nervous. I tried conventional corkscrews, I tried closing my eyes and begging, I almost tried a little prayer …

I gave up, disappointed and thirsty, and put the bottle carefully in the shed where it would do minimal damage if it decided to release its contents.

I trawled through their shiny corporate website to find a human to speak to, as I was very hesitant to drive back to the supermarket with it, in case it disgorged itself involuntarily.

Finally, after looking at a number of shiny internet pages that told me very little, I found a ‘customer care’ form, which I filled out – providing details of what/where and what the problem was, and a photo of the receipt. And I waited …

Several days later, with no response, I ‘escalated’ to a more senior contact at the organisation. Who passed it down the food chain to someone less senior. They then passed it down the food chain even further, back to the ‘customer care’ team. And I waited …

10 days after my email, I received a response from the less senior of the two senior contacts. System issues, working from home, difficult time etc – they would be in touch. And I waited …

4 days later, I have received a response from customer ‘care’. No, they can’t tell me if I am still on their samples list, no they can’t courier me a replacement but will send me a ‘gift’ voucher to replace the faulty bottle. But I must tell them where I purchased it (which I already have), and when (which I already have), and send them proof of purchase (which I already have).

Now, my wine-writing family and I have shown considerable brand loyalty to this organisation for over 30 years, we have talked them up, we have loved their wines, we have served their wines at family wedding and funerals. I’m not sure if I will continue to do so.

This is a lot of work to get a clearly faulty item replaced, and I strongly object to the term ‘gift voucher’ in this case – it’s not a gift, it is a replacement for a flawed product.

So, if anyone from the large wine company turned off-shoot of the large brewery that isn’t called a brewery anymore wants to get in touch and remedy the situation, that would be nice.

You could even let me know if I still exist on your list of wine writers – if you care, that is.