She’s celebrating her salad days

Complaining effectively takes know-how, time and persistence.

Complaining effectively takes know-how, time and persistence, whether you are seeking money back for faulty goods or better snowplowing of streets. But given today’s rapid sharing of information on Facebook and other electronic media, companies that care about their public image and  sales generally respond positively to reasonable complaints politely presented.

As an example, gleaned from the Jan. 16 broadcast of the new Anderson TV show when the topic was toddlers’ pageants where girls as young as two years of age are made up to look like Las Vegas strippers, a Denver, Colorado mother reported browsing a toddlers’ clothing store where she discovered a display of crotchless panties.

She and her husband immediately exited the store  disgusted, but once home she phoned the store’s manager. She was invited to submit a complaint form. That necessitated re-visiting the store to fill out  a detailed questionnaire. However, within 24 hours of registering her complaint the offending  clothing was gone from the store’s display.

Not since I complained to Fruit of the Loom about their scratchy, fraying elastic have I had an underwear problem, but I have complained twice to Dole foods.

The first occasion came about when I found an insect in my Romaine salad. I’m all for protein in a salad only if added by the cook. I was, though, happy to find the bee intact. This little fellow lay  on one side, six legs stiffly drawn up, two pairs of wings folded. He possessed a proboscis that could sip nectar from a snapdragon’s windsock.

I tweezed out his corpse and placed it alongside a ruler for size comparison before photographing it. I tried several times to transfer the photograph to the company’s on-line contact form. In the end I wrote an email answering all their questions  and added the photo.

Answering their questions required retrieving details from the plastic package: The package’s ten-digit UPC number; Use by which date; 12-figure Package Code; date of purchase (from my cashier’s stub which, fortunately, I still had), date of occurrence which I took to mean the day I nearly munched the insect; the name of the store from which I had purchased the package and the store’s street address.

Several weeks later Dole replied by mail (they had tried to phone me one evening, but I had taken their call to be that of a telemarketer and not answered), apologizing for my unsatisfactory experience with their product. They wrote, “ready-to-use items, such as our pre-cut salads, are triple-washed as part of a process intended to remove any field debris or insect material.”

They enclosed ten coupons worth $23 ranging from 75 cents to $4.75 with December 31 expiry dates two months hence.

I redeemed one coupon every week until only one coupon was left. A blizzard kept me from shopping with that one before it expired.

Having one spoiled Dole product in many years was one thing. Gagging on another salad two months later was another.

This time while picking through another chopped Romaine salad I came upon a plug of minced, compacted green the size of a AA battery. Because I couldn’t identify its origin, it proved more unsettling than the insect. My imagination went wild.

Dole explained the plug was actually Romaine that had gotten caught in the washing process; it had no sinister origin. Rather than give me coupons with an expiry date (they had exhausted their 2011 supply) they sent four coupons each good to pay the full cost of any Dole packaged fruit or beverage product.

Thanks to  satisfactory resolutions, I will continue to buy both Fruit of the Loom and Dole products.