Produce services, the Fresh and the Compostable.
Ever consider using an organic produce service? It’s a great way to ensure you get a decent amount of high-quality fresh fruits and veggies into your daily nutrition. This spring, I decided to give a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program a go. In turn, I got a pretty interesting lesson regarding customer service and ultimately, how to choose the right produce service for one’s individual needs. The first company I tried was Tiny’s Organics. The details: Pay for 5 months of fresh fruits/vegetables, picked up weekly at a convenient location nearby. So far, the bulk of what I’ve received in this bag of deliciousness is about 2/3 fruit. Good for the general populace. For those people (like myself) that need to limit fruit consumption to 2 servings max/day… well… let’s just say there is a lot of compost being generated in my refrigerator. Rather than continue looking wistfully at bags of fruit accumulate in my refrigerator weekly, I go to Tiny’s site to see if there’s a customization option for one’s order. Seeing no relevant URLs, I call the Seattle customer service rep. She seemed quite pleasant and willing to help. I told her of my dietary restrictions and asked her if a modification can be made to my order. “Is it possible to request mostly vegetables in my Standard-sized bag order?” I said. She responded, “Do you have any friends/family members that you can share the contents of the bag?” Huh. Doesn’t seem like a fair solution—especially since the produce is just for me. I intentionally purchased this product to integrate more organic vegetables and fruits in my daily regimen. This solution means… I paid up front for a service and I need to give away about 2/3 of my purchase because my body doesn’t process fruit well? If I don’t have enough people in my home to share the produce, I’m SOL? Hmmm. In order for Tiny’s to maintain a competitive pricing structure for its service, customers must pick up their produce weekly at a chosen location. Each CSA pickup location contains multiple bags ready for customer retrieval. In the spirit of maintaining an efficient process, I tried requesting another solution: “Is it possible for me to head to one of Tiny’s farmers market booths and pick up my weekly order there instead? That way I can make sure there’s more vegetables that fruits, and there’s no confusion in customizing my order.” Factoring in all the effort it takes for the farmers to fill the orders, sort into groups by order size and deliver to all locations, it seemed like a reasonable request. Especially considering that I would be making the extra effort to visit the booth at the farmers market. Her response: “Our booths at the farmers markets carry fruits, rarely vegetables. The vegetables are purposely reserved for the CSA customers.” I’m out of ideas at this time since the suggestion to solve my main issue was to give the fruit away and my second idea was not well received. The rep said “I’ll need to call (a decision maker) to find out how we can solve this. I’ll call you back in 24 hours, sound good?” Yes, that does, and it’s appreciated that a solution is being sought. I’m hopeful. The next day, Tiny’s Seattle rep called me back with a solution. Tiny’s is going to refund me for the remainder of the season’s order. Interesting solution. Wasn’t expecting that. Personally, I was hoping that I could continue with the service since the produce really is great quality. However, I was happy with this solution since I can use the refund to use a different produce service. My happiness was cut short when the rep said “I see you were referred by (name withheld) to our program. We’re going to let her know that we’ll be removing the cash referral discount we added to her membership since you’re no longer going to be a member.” Hold on now. Since when does one customer get penalized due to another customer’s dietary restrictions? Doesn’t seem fair to me, and in a customer service sense, seems like a very bad business decision. I brought this point up to the rep: “I don’t understand why that person needs to be penalized because my body doesn’t process sugars well.” The rep explained “because you are not a member for a full season, we need to now remove her referral.” Wow. I didn’t request a refund, I requested to modify my order. Tiny’s inability to provide modifications from a logistical standpoint? Frustrating. Their solution of refunding me for the rest of the season? Workable. Tiny’s policy of removing a referral discount to another customer due to a logistical problem from a special-case scenario? I don’t see how that will encourage repeat customers. Oh. The person that’s having their referral bonus removed? She’s a nutritionist. And a heck of a networker. Good thing there are other excellent, organic produce services. Like Full Circle Farms. I’m salivating at the fresh veggies that are soon to arrive in my ice box. I’m excited to try them: customizable orders, better pricing (without the discount), and even home delivery if I so choose! UPDATE: Tiny’s Seattle Program Manager followed up on this issue and emailed: “I had a chance to talk with the owners about removing the Refer-A-Friend credit on (name omitted)’s account and we have decided to change our policy and not remove that credit. We just appreciate her referring people to Tiny’s!” Excellent thinking, Tiny’s. My hats off to you for that flexibility and good business sense!
- by resource11
- posted at 5:30 am
- December 12, 2011