06 October, 2009
The media does a great job of spreading fear and ignorance. One example is the recent campaign against high fructose corn syrup. I'm no scientist, or nutritionist, or chemist. But the mere name of this sweetener scares me. A lot. Anything extreme, ie. "high," should be questioned. After all, isn't moderation the key to happiness, or something like that?
To my surprise, I was taken aback to read the ingredients in my recently purchased jar of Smucker's Raspberry Jam. I knew the name Smuckers and their advertising had done a great job since my childhood of creating a loyalty to the brand. I trusted this brand name and fondly recalled the Smucker's "How Sweet It Is" morning celebrations on the Today Show, with Willard Scott celebrating the birthdays of awesome mature people who were living healthy prosperous and long lives. I even dreamed that one day my grandmother would be featured on his segment.
Oh the horror! To think that this great brand was using some weird non-naturally occurring ingredient to sweeten fruit preserves made me mad. What ever happened to good ol' SUGAR? At least I know from where and how that comes to exist in my cupboard, thanks to Mr. Alton Brown. And so, like the consumer watchdog that I am not, I set out to notify Smuckers of my dismay at their use of high fructose corn syrup.
On their website, they have an area in which to submit feedback, aka COMPLAINTS. (I mean, really, who uses this area for compliments? "Your blueberry jam rocked my baked brie!!") Anyway, I immediately knew that spending more than five minutes to complete the feedback form would most likely be five wasted minutes, and my complaint about the high fructose corn syrup would go into the ether, never to be acknowledged or even read by any live human at the Smuckers headquarters in Fruityville, or wherever they are headquartered.
I was dead wrong. Not more than 10 days after posting my complaint, I received a letter from the J.M. Smucker Company (they are actually headquartered in Orrville, Ohio, FYI). I opened the envelope to read a somewhat personalized letter, addressing my concern with the high fructose corn syrup and stating they would forward my comments to the appropriate personnel. They offered suggestions for other Smuckers products that are organic, or sweetened with sugar and/or natural fruit syrup, and included a coupon for up to $3.00 redeemable for any Smuckers product of my choice.
CUSTOMER SERVICE IS NOT DEAD!! Bravo, Smuckers, for the awesome response to my little complaint. The effort alone to respond to my comments is deserving of respect, and whether or not you change the ingredients in your products because of my complaint are not the issue. You listened and responded. For that, I thank you, J.R. Smucker Co.
Take note, Corporate America!! When your customers say "No high fructose corn syrup," just tell them you listened and give them a coupon. It will do wonders for your customer loyalty, even if we still really don't know what's going on behind the curtain.