The Case of the Green Fuzzy Bread

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My husband has his own special version of chili which, well … I’m not a big fan of. So when he found out I was heading out for a dinner event last week, he was thrilled.  Chad got everything he needed to make his special chili, along with a loaf of garlic bread.

Everything was going well. The chili was on the stove, flavours melding, and then it was time to put the garlic bread in the oven. That’s when things took a slight turn for the worse.   The garlic bread was green and fuzzy.  At first, he was just going to throw it away, but then changed his mind, packed it back up and walked across the street to Safeway, where he’d purchased the bread.

The lady working at customer service was on the phone and did not seem pleased to have her conversation disturbed by a customer.  She finally got off the phone and when Chad showed her the bread, the first thing she said was “Do you want a new loaf or do you want your money back?”

Chad really wanted garlic bread to go with his special chili, so chose to get a new loaf.  She pointed him in the right direction.  Off he went, only to discover that the one other loaf left was over a week past its best before date.  He turned around and went back to the customer service desk and told the lady he’d take his refund seeing as the bread was old.  She gave him his money and sent him on his way.

There was never an apology!  Nothing, nada, zippo!  No acknowledgement of the yuck factor associated with green, fuzzy food.  No acknowledgement of the inconvenience of the return trip to the store.  No offer to get him a new loaf.  No comment made when she found out the only loaf left should have been taken off the shelf a week ago.

My husband is a sweetheart.  He doesn’t get mad easily and when he does, well… to most people that’s not mad.  But this bugged him big time.  As he said, “I get stuff happens, but she didn’t even care enough to apologize.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Great customer service doesn’t have to cost much;  lousy service can cost a lot.

The cost of an apology = $0.  The cost of empathy = $0.  Offering to bring a replacement loaf, instead of making the customer look for it = $0.

Now how much is the cost of a lost customer?


If you’re interested in finding out more about customer service strategies, I’d be happy to talk to you!  Feel free to sign up for a free consult here, email me at or call me at 204-995-5836.

2 thoughts on “The Case of the Green Fuzzy Bread

  1. Great story, Laurie. (albeit at your husband’s expense) You did a super job of creating an interesting and valuable learning point. Don’t forget to work into your CRM presentations. And now that I think about it, I might just work it into mine as well …changing the names to protect the guilty of course. 🙂 Have a super September, Laurie. -Paul

    • Thanks Paul. I incorporated this story yesterday during a customer service workshop. It really does drive home the point of the importance of knowing what to do when things go wrong. A sincere apology is such a small thing, and yet, such a big thing at the same time.

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