On a country walk in Derbyshire, we were looking forward to a bag of potato crisps and nice pint of hand pulled local ale. Unfortunately the crisps didn’t live up to normal expectations and there is always that moment with shall I take the trouble to complain. Normally I wouldn’t be bothered but I do like my cheese and onion variety. Unfortunately some manufacturers go over the top with their artificial flavourings. At first glance this particular snack looked especially promising, even more so once you had read the description. But proof of the pudding is always in the eating they say, and sadly it proved to be very true in this case.
So insteasd of taking them back to the bar I thought the makers would prefer that I sent them back so they can fix whatever went wrong flavourwise in this batch. After all as it says on the back of the packet “We are passionate about potatoes and the quality of these crisps so if this bag is less than perfect please return it to:”
– Darling Spuds, PO Box 766, Chesham, Bucks, HP5 3YD. Website: www.hellodarlings.co.uk
So I duly did return them with this accompanying letter…
West Country Cheddar Leek & Pink Peppercorn Flavour
Dear Sir / Madam
As an all time connoisseur of potato crisps (especially cheese and onion) with a pint of ale, I would like to inform you of my findings! After a long walk in the Derbyshire Dales, I was extremely disappointed with what initially looked like a promisingly tasty snack.
My high anticipation quickly turned into dismay as the expected flavour crashed and crumbled on the taste buds of reality. The long awaited treat turned into a discussion about customer service:
“Does your crisps taste as bland as mine?” Inquires I.
“Oh yes they do! Take them back and get some fresh ones. What’s the sell by date?” She asks.
“The date’s fine. But all the batch will taste the same, so what’s the point?” Says I.
“But you haven’t got what you paid for!” Demands she.
“I don’t want to appear a prat over a bag of tasteless crisps in a pub, I’ll send them back to the factory as they seem like nice people!” Says I. “They can test them and they’ll tell us if this is what they should taste like. I’m positive they will appreciate the honest feedback especially if I include the actual bags that they can taste for themselves.” says I.
“You never will!” Says she, disparagingly…
But I did and here they are enclosed for your quality assurance people to test and analyse.
In all seriousness, I really would like to hear back from you with their verdict as to whether they should taste like it says on the packet or this is just how bland they are supposed to be.
I can then make a final judgment of refusing to try them ever again because of the fear of more blandness or try once more with the assured fore knowledge that the quality and perfection portrayed on the packaging reflects the customer service ethos that promises good taste and customer loyalty, every time.
Looking forward to your comments so that I can paste into my online blog.
To Be Continued…
They have a lovely informative and artistic website which has many glowing reports of how tasty their products are. I do hope they are as tasty as they say, as I would really like to savour a proper bag. So, I sent the letter off today and I am hoping for a positive reply in the near future so watch this space.
Well it’s been a month now and still no reply from those nice people at:
Salty Dog Brands,
PO Box 766, Chesham,
So today I sent an email which contained the original letter above. Maybe that will help to jog their memory and reply to my enquiry, as they suggested on the packet…
I’m really looking forward to tasting the crisps again to see if they have improved like it says on their website.
Today I got an email
Well what do you know I got a reply from a very nice lady called Lynda, the very next day:
Good morning Tim,
Thank you for your email, I have contacted our QC department to get a status report on your complaint and will let you know the outcome when they contact me.
Please be ensured that your complaint is being dealt with.
SALTY DOG BRANDS LTD
TEL 01494 774422
And Another email
Well the very next day I had yet another email. They were actually looking into my case of the missing taste!
I have received confirmation that you will receive a letter from our QC department next week.
A surprise package arrived today!
Well what do you know a surprise package arrived from those nice Darling Spuds people. It contained 30 bags of the West Country Cheddar, Leek and Pink Peppercorns (A robust, full bodied flavour for the more demanding chip aficionado crisps.) And there was a letter too explaining their enquiry into the missing taste!
20 June 2016ra
Our Ref: 83972
Dear Mr Hollingsworth
Re Darling Spuds Cheddar, Leek and Peppercorn Hand Cooked Crisps 40g
– Quality complaint – Poor Taste (Best Before 30 JUL 16)
Thank you for notifying us regarding your disappointment with our Darling Spuds Hand Cooked Crisps. Firstly may I take this opportunity to apologise for any distress and inconvenience caused by this incident. Our Quality system and due diligence programme is designed to ensure that only products that meet specification in full reach our customers and it is always a disappointment when a product of ours does not meet the standards that we set for it.
Please be assured that we take all complaints very seriously and carry out a thorough investigation to identify the root cause.
On this occasion the product packaging was returned to the manufacturing site however the product sample was insufficient for analysis, to determine the flavour application of a sample a salt test analysis is usually carried out using an auto-titrator.
Our products are flavoured by an electronically controlled system, which dispenses the required amount of flavour for a given weight of product. There is the possibility that on this occasion the sensor has not detected a blockage of the flavour dispenser and the flow of product feed into the flavour drum has not been stopped accordingly. Normally this would be picked up immediately and the batch of product rejected as this will result in the flavour addition being outside the standards set.
To prevent complaints of this nature tests are carried out at every s age o the production process.
- Process operators carry out flavour tests every 30mins to ensure the correct level of flavour is being applied.
- QA staff also carry out random flavour tests to ensure the correct level of flavour is being applied – any results, which are outside the required range are reported to the relevant flavour operator who will take the necessary corrective action.
- Product is tasted on an hourly basis
As a part of the investigation we have also examined our quality and production paperwork for the date concerned and no anomalies or non-conformances were raised. We have historically checked all our internal complaint records and no issues were raised or had been reported regarding this type of issue. No similar complaints for this production run have been received concluding this to be an isolated incident.
We would like to sincerely apologise once again for any distress or inconvenience caused by this incident and we hope that it does not detract from your future enjoyment of our products.
Please accept the enclosed as a gesture of goodwill.
Consumer Services Department
My first taste test
After my initial shock of receiving a giant box of crisps, I just had to try them out and justify my own complaint. I have to say there was an improvement of taste as the initial taste bud contact with them was almost non existant. But I could now actually see the green flecks of peppercorn and taste the cheesy flavour I was anticipating the first time. I think the major issue is that many crisp manufacturers go over the top with their taste chemicals and so kill it for a more normal flavoured crisp. Whereas I think Darling Spuds have turned down the flavour to what is now a reasonable taste.
In concluding the taste test my expectations are now met.
Thank you Darling Spuds, you have lifted my spirits by your kind and most generous gift and I do accept your kind offer which more than compensates for my “distress” and “inconvenience” which I have to say were fairly minimal. I would put it as harshly as a bit “dissapointed” but you have more than compensated as the postage was £5.14 in itsself!