Wednesday, January 20, 2010

**Email Companies that you love or hate, let them know what you think

One of the frugal blogs I love and check out everyday is Couponing to Disney. Not only does she have great deal ideas & Freebies, but she pays for Disney trips with money from "smart shopping"!! (How much do I love Disney?!) One program she started is her 5-a-Day program. You can read all about her project here but basically, she emails 5 companies a day to compliments or complains to them about their product.

I bring up her amazing program (which she obviously put A LOT of time and effort into), because it brings up a great bargain/coupon tip. That is that often if you just email a company and let them know about your experience with their product, whether good or bad, they will often send you coupons or freebies. I do not email companies everyday, but if I have a genuine experience, whether good or bad with a product or company, I always write. To be honest, if I have a bad experience, I am far more likely to write. Let me tell you about a couple experiences I have had.

This one was quite a while back, but here it is. I went to my local Hyvee with my brand new debit card. I had never used it and I was anxious to do so (as I never truly believe it will work until it does). Well this time my fears were confirmed as it did not work. I was embarrassed, but told the checker that I would just pay on my credit card (Curses, I hate having to do THAT). But before I could even get my card out, the manager on duty came over yelling at me about how my card would not work and I was going to have to do something else. There were people I know there and she made an already embarrassing situation MUCH worse. On my way out the door I took note of the general managers name, phone number and email, and the second I got home, I called and emailed him. Within an hour I had 2 phone calls from the store, and 2 emails of apology. 2 Days later, a $25 gift card and a handwritten apology letter from the mean manager came in the mail.

Over the weekend, my husband and I had plans across town from Cheeseburger in Paradise, but wanted to try eating there even though it was out of the way. However, to make our across town plans, we thought we would need a reservation. As it turns out, they do not take reservations, but they do take call ahead seating and they assured us on the phone that if our whole party was there by 6:45, we would be seated right then. When we arrived (with a minute to spare) and told her our name and that we called ahead, the hostess told us we would have to wait 20-25 minutes and I questioned her about the promise on the phone. She snottily said "Oh you called ahead?" (we had already been over that once) Then after a couple more minutes of her realizing that we were on her list (and she had screwed up) she said, "I guess we might be able to get you in in about 10-15 minutes." I was pissed as it was already 5 minutes past our seating time and could not make our plans if we waited. I told her we would not wait or ever return there. She LAUGHED at us and said "K, 'Bye!" After this rude, terrible service, we went to Chipotle where we had GREAT service, GREAT food and a salvaged quick meal before our plans. When I got home I emailed both Cheeseburger in Paradise and Chipotle. I got an apology from Cheesburger in Paradise corporate office saying I would hear from the exact location soon. Nothing from Chipotle yet.

Last night I emailed Huggies to let them know that using another brand of wipes recently reminded me why I always use Huggies, and I thanked them for maintaining high quality products for my babies. This morning I had an email from them thanking me for taking the time to email them and letting me know they had sent me coupons in the mail.

You can and should be an opinionated consumer. Do not be afraid to let a company know about your experience with them. You might get some benefit out of your letter which is ideal, but for me, I just like to have my opinion heard. So, go out there and email the companies that make your life easier or the ones that do not. Be proactive though and tell the companies what you think! After you do, let me know if you hear back!

***Update: In response to the emails I sent in these examples, Cheesburger in Paradise sent an appology letter and an invitation to return and let them make up for it-there was a $25 gift certificate included.

Huggies mailed me 3-$2 off coupons. And since this email I have emailed and gotten free and high value coupons from Kikkoman and Stacy's Pita Chips as well.***