More from Loblaws

Shortly after posting Tuesday’s mini-rant about Loblaws PC Organics yogourt, I received a second reply from Loblaws customer service:

Dear Mr. Dodge,

Thank you for taking the time to pass on your comments regarding our PC Organics Strawberry Fruit Bottom Yogurt.  We apologize for the delay in our response as we’re experiencing higher than normal volume of emails.

I was disappointed to hear that this product did not meet your expectations. Our product development team re-evaluates products on an ongoing basis and customer feedback such as yours is very valuable to them during that process. Accordingly, I have communicated your comments to them for consideration during their next review of this product.

Mr. Dodge, we appreciate hearing from you.  Please continue to let us know how we’re doing, as your feedback is one of the best ways for us to improve.

There’s still not much to go on here, but at least now I know that my complaint didn’t fall into a generic “website feedback” black hole never to be seen again. I know I left my complaint during the holidays, but two weeks for a response is pretty sad. It’s the Internet equivalent of keeping me on hold for two hours while telling me over and over again how important my call is.

I’m also struck by the timing of the reply: after waiting for two weeks for a proper acknowledgement of my feedback, this more appropriate response arrived barely two hours after I posted yesterday’s article. While that could be coincidence, it seems just a touch too convenient.

More fake milk and bad customer service

Milk ingredients invade my favourite yogourt

Just before Christmas and not even a week after writing about fake milk products, I bought a tub of my regular yogourt, President’s Choice Organic strawberry fruit-bottom yogourt, to be met with a nasty surprise when I opened it up at home a few days later: a new recipe and a substantial downgrade in quality. The taste and texture were all wrong and it left a chemical aftertaste that lingered until I brushed my teeth to get rid of it. I didn’t have to look far to see the culprit: “organic milk ingredients” at the top of the new ingredient list versus the “ultrafiltered partly skimmed organic milk” that headed up the old formula. Foiled again!

Thoroughly disgusted with both the new product and the fact that I hadn’t thought to verify the ingredients on the new container before I bought it, I submitted this feedback on the President’s Choice website on December 28:

I’ve been enjoying PC Organics Strawberry Fruit Bottom Yogourt for a number of years but have been disappointed with the new formulation that has recently replaced the older flavour. To be charitable, it tastes awful. It also leaves an equally unpleasant aftertaste, has a lumpy texture reminiscent of cottage cheese, and features a fruit bottom that neither looks nor tastes real. In short, it’s a considerable step down from the PC Organics yogourt that I was buying just three months ago.

I was not surprised when I checked the ingredient list on the new tub and saw that the first ingredient is now “organic milk ingredients” rather than the “ultrafiltered partly skimmed organic milk” that headed up the much better previous version of this product. If you think that consumers don’t notice the difference, you’re sadly mistaken. You are also sadly mistaken if you believe that the change in serving size will mask the increase in carbs and decrease in fibre in the new formula.

I’m disappointed that President’s Choice is sourcing cheaper ingredients and not directly informing consumers that the formula has changed in this way. I will not be buying PC yogourt again, and will be examining more closely the labels of any other PC products that I buy in the future.

I checked the “response required” box and sent it off. I got this response early in the new year, posted in its entirety (minus the French translation):

Thank you for visiting our website.

Our Customer Service hours are Monday to Friday 8:30 am to 5:30pm EST.

Please note that Customer Service will be closed on Monday December 26th.

This email message is confidential, may be legally privileged and is intended for the exclusive use of the addressee. If you received this message in error or are not the intended recipient, you should destroy the email message and any attachments or copies, and you are prohibited from retaining, distributing, disclosing or using any information contained. Please inform us of the delivery error by return email. Thank you for your cooperation.

So a customer who spent more than half of his total food expenses in 2011 at Loblaws expresses his dissatisfaction and all he gets in return is “thank you for visiting our website” and “we will be closed for one day, a week and a half ago”? Well, I still have another tub of this crap sitting in the fridge; maybe I’ll return it to the store this week.  I’m certainly not going to eat it.

[January 11 update: I got a second response from Loblaws shortly after posting this article.]

Why Loblaws is losing money


— The acting store manager in the Loblaws at Broadview and Danforth on Sunday, when I asked if he could do anything about the lineup that snaked from the one open non-express checkout all the way across the front of the store and up the dairy aisle.

“I keep forgetting not to come here anymore.”

— A frustrated woman making her way to the end of the line.

You and me both, sister. The newly-renovated Sobeys up the street beckons.