Grounded Chips, VI – Fail

One trip to the grocery and one blown PSU later and I can finally offer a final post in the wait for some response from the Terra Chips people. I’ve got a brand new bag of Lay’s Kettle Cooked Original Potato Chips. They’re good, although honestly, they’re not as good as the Terra. At least I could easily open the bag. (Again, if you haven’t read the other posts in this series, here are some links: I, II, III, IV, V. In a nutshell, their bag is hard to open.)
What’s the upshot of all of this? Not much. I do know this much: Google is crazy ubiquitous. Google will index this post. It will parse the following sentences. Terra Chips Consumer Relations failed to relate to this consumer. Terra Chips failed to respond to a legitimate complaint. Terra Chips ignored a consumer that was an admitted fan of their product who happened to have a small criticism. Terra Chips failed to prove their claim that they care about their customers’ questions and comments.
I’m interested to call Terra Chips Consumer Relation and see if they every actually received my emails. They’re located in Colorado and I’m in Missouri. Based upon the information I’ve read, there are no state laws that would require more than one party to a phone conversation to give consent in order to record that conversation. If I can find the time and setup the equipment, I’ll call them and publish the recording here.
To all the folks that manage the Terra Chips brand and their Consumer Relations group, I’m sorry this went down this way. I was really pulling for you guys to get in the conversation. I was prepared to give the Terra Chips brand full marks for their gumption. I don’t want to just trash the brand because they’ve got a few things right–like they make a great chip. But they definitely missed an opportunity here. And they’ve demonstrated the self-serving nature of their “contact us” page. And they’ve made liars of themselves inasmuch as they suggested that they care about my questions and comments and then never actually addressed them.

6 thoughts on “Grounded Chips, VI – Fail

  1. That truly is a shame. I’ve contacted numerous companies over the years for the same reasons you did – I love the product but had one tiny suggestion for how to improve it (Taco Bell – thank you for at least saying you’ll try to ensure the chili cheese on my burrito extends the full length of the burrito instead of leaving 3 inches of lonely tortilla at the end. I know it’s hard to get 16-year-old, minimum-wage employees at all your restaurants to adhere to the standard but I appreciate you getting back to me nonetheless).
    It is amazing the real-world effect you can see as a result of your comments. I mean, American Airlines actually made TWO changes to their dinner menu on the Paris-Chicago flight that a) were my suggestion and b) rocked my about-to-stop-flying-AA-world.
    So it’s just a shame that Terra Chips can’t get their act together.
    I consult for several CPG brands and get copied on all the emails they receive through their contact form. I am aware of the quality and timeliness of their responses back to consumers and it is something to be proud of. There are only 2 part-time employees running the show at one company and they receive inquiries from several brand websites. Yet they always manage to respond within 24 hours. And they always have their shifts covered during vacation.
    So I’ve searched my bag of tricks and just can’t find a legitimate reason why Terra Chips hasn’t gotten back to you yet. Maybe they decided to see for themselves what you were kvetching about and are still trying to open their own bags …

  2. Good stuff. Perhaps there’s another explanation… Maybe they never reveived your feedback. You presume they did because the autoresponse email said so. But maybe it went into email hell somewhere, was filtered as SPAM, or you tripped the angry consumer trigger and your message was deleted. Who knows. But giving them the benefit of the doubt, maybe you’ve uncovered a real problem with their “contact us” process. Just offering up an alternative thought. Maybe they DO care and just don’t know you’re out there struggling with their packaging.

  3. Back away from the chip! One experience does not a brand make, either negative or positive. And who says the timeline you chose meshes with the one in their manual? Maybe they have launched an internal research program that is in fact testing how many pounds per inch of pressure it takes to open a bag. And their error is in not sharing this with you. So they have a few communications issues, that doesn’t erase the fact that they make a good product.
    I don’t know when we moved into the “I expect to be listened to by all” era, but we’re in it. You have no idea what’s going on at that company or with the person responsible for handling these types of concerns, yet you assume that it’s a laissez-faire attitude toward consumers. I say not enough info is available to make a judgement. So it’s not best practice….are they a little company? Start-up? Two guys in a kitchen peeling potatoes & running a deep fryer?
    I say pat yourself on the back for taking the time to share an idea that could improve something, and grab your scissors next time. Don’t slaughter them for not jumping on your suggestion. Little perspective people.

  4. OK, I know I’m a little late in responding to this post and the issue is probably long forgotten by now, but I read a post on Seth Godin’s blog this morning that made me think about Eliot and Terra Chips.
    Zappos is really doing something right. I’ve purchased from them a few times and always been pleased with the experience, but had no clue they took their customer service and feedback as seriously as they do. They’ve realized that there are so many options for consumers that they must rise above the noise to truly capture a loyal customer. They make customer service a priority and we’re taking notice. Bravo, Zappos.
    Any recent updates from Terra Chips?
    ed: fixed the link to seth’s post about Zappos.

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