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Template for responding to a plastic foreign body customer complaint that is not a real incident

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Posted 21 July 2020 - 09:50 PM

Hi all,

I've received a customer complaint, a plastic foreign body. I am 1000% this isn't a real incident (it has been fully investigated and we dont hold that type of plastic at site not to mention via out processes it would be smashed to bits).

I'm just wondering if anyone has a template of a response to this customer? I have a standard one but this requires more input and I sometimes lack being diplomatic and short of spending £000's getting the contaminate analysed beyond any doubt, have you had a similar experience?

David SS

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Posted 22 July 2020 - 02:20 AM

Yes, I once got a complaint exactly as you got it. There is a plastic in the product, but we don't use that type of plastic in the process area. It can be fraudulent complain or a real complain, maybe it's a food defense problem (our employees deliberately put the plastic before packing).


You cannot answer to a complaint harshly even if you suspect it's a fraudulent one. In my case our customer care explained that we have investigated the contaminants and there is no equipment in our process area that uses these plastics. in good faith we'll replace contaminated products with new ones.


Fraudsters usually target earning money from their fraudulent complaint, but instead you give him a replacement product. In my case my company give the customers 1 box of the product even only 1 pack of product is complained (because the price of the product is not expensive). This is done to avoid the fraudsters further action, like he bad mouth our company name in social media or his neighborhood.


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Posted 22 July 2020 - 09:23 AM

Well, you can explain how sorry your team to hear the news of them finding the foreign matter and describe how immediate action of investigating the incident has been carried out to the whole process. Then you can start rule out process by process and also you can indicate no such similar material was found in your plant therefore it is very unlikely to be contaminated in the process of manufacturing. If that is still not enough, start talking about food defense program that are implemented(if any) to rule out sabotage. Of course you can start to talk about potential improvement to further enhance your system to prevent foreign material to further convince the customer. However, please do remember to do proper investigation and support all your statement with valid data and facts.


Thanks them for the feedback and assure them that your company is committed in giving safe food to the consumer and like what David said, maybe replace them with some of your product as a token of appreciation for the feedback for your continuous improvement.

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    Grade - PIFSQN

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Posted 22 July 2020 - 03:55 PM

I think we've all come across these from time to time, and we probably all have preferred methods of dealing with it. 

My preferred response is to reply on company letterhead and stick to the facts, which I pull from my internal customer complaint close-out report. I start with their complaint, word for word. What our investigation found (sum it up if it was extensive) and then our determination based off that investigation (i.e. Did not originate from this facility, etc). Sometimes I'll close it out with "We take food safety seriously and investigate all customer complaints blah blahblah, based on determination we consider this incident closed. If you have questions or comments please contact XX."

What you don't want to do is leave it open ended or give the impression you're still looking into it. If you've closed the investigation, tell them. Leave it on them to contact you (or the product manager depending) if they disagree, and you can always open a second investigation if warranted. 


Edit, Oh, and make sure you don't incriminate yourself, and get someone to proof read it before you send it out.

Edited by TimG, 22 July 2020 - 03:57 PM.

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