A Reply from Senior Management…

Some of you may recall my posts on a visit to a kitchen/restaurant supplies store in July. I wrote about the visit first here, then a follow-up post here. Several readers have emailed and others actually asked me in public (like groceries, airports, etc.) about the outcome of those posts so I thought I would give you all an update. I received a letter from a senior Filipino executive at the company who was in town at the time, and I reproduce the reply below, with names excluded.

“6 August 2012

Dear (Marketman),

First, I would like to apologize for your sad experience during your visit at our yet to be opened MOK last July 18, 2012.

I am replying to your letter that was addressed to our Chairman, Mr. xxxx, who is currently out of the country.

We have fully noted your complaints and sentiments and I would like to assure you that our company does not tolerate these kind of employees. They were already subjected to disciplinary action.

Should you prefer, I am more than willing to personally visit you in Cebu to discuss this matter in full. Kindly advise your most convenient date and time.

Again, our apologize for what had happened.

Very Truly yours,

Chief Operating Officer

cc: xxxx

I was pleased that senior management felt it appropriate to respond to my letter to the Chairman of the company, and had every intention of discussing the matter in greater detail, but I responded that I would like to do that once the Chairman of the company returned to the Philippines from a trip abroad, therefor, I wrote this letter in reply:

“Dear Mr. xxxx,

Thank you for your letter dated 6 August 2012 in reply to my letter to (your Chairman) dated 31 July 2012. I appreciate your taking the time to look into the matter and send me a response while Mr. xxx is out of town.

I would like to discuss the matter with you and Mr. xxxx when he does arrive from his trip abroad. I am in Manila frequently so it is not necessary for you to make a trip to Cebu on my behalf.

Thank you very much,


It’s now been over two months since that exchange of letters and I have still to hear from Mr. xxxx and/or the Chairman of the company. I am sure they have lots of other more critical issues to handle, but the lack of follow-up doesn’t bolster confidence that they truly wanted to clear up the matter. Suffice it to say I have found other suppliers for equipment for our restaurants and I will not be giving them any of our business as a result of that experience. Their shop, by the way, that had no firm “opening date” back in July, is now finally open, I called to check.

And to the occasional reader, like a recent one on that second post I wrote that think I over-reacted and should have just walked away despite the absurd answers, and perhaps thought I should ignore the comments from company employees on my post on the experience, if you read enough of my posts on marketmanila, you would know that I consistently “choose frustration over indifference” and will continue to do so. :)

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15 Responses

  1. Hi MM. Off topic…I just finished watching an inspiring TEDx video by Dylan Wilk (co-founder of Human Heart Nature Philippines) and while viewing it, I thought about you and Zubuchon and the entire concept of social enterprise and love of country. It’s a great video to share to your followers and to all Filipinos. You can view it at this link (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7dm7HVv3UA&feature=share). Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

  2. Man, it would be enough to think twice/thrice/several times over if a purported “COO” writes you a direct response that contains “during your visit AT…”, “THESE KIND of employees…”, “Kindly ADVISE YOUR MOST CONVENIENT DATE…”, “…OUR APOLOGIZE…”

    Suffice it to say that such an establishment is simply sloppy by nature. It is futile to expect any further iota of decency.

  3. Ummm….. how sincere, how sincere?? Well the “happening” was in July and you got the letter 2 months after….so probably, for the “response” to your second letter, it will be another 2 months? ummm….

  4. Ebba, no, I got the response a week after I wrote, but I did not publish it thinking I would still get a chance to talk to them before I published. So the 2 month lag before publishing is mine.

  5. Hello MM, please tell us where you brought your business, because I am looking for a few basic items to complete my kitchen, thanks.

  6. One simply has to accept that there will be mediocrity at some businesses. I’ve found that this is usually the result of staff not understanding company policies, supervised by managers who don’t care, an attitude that starts at the top.

    I don’t fight it much when I encounter it nowadays, in the end letting them know by taking my business elsewhere if I’ve addressed the situation appropriately, and not received either any follow-up or satisfaction.

    Example: One of my local supermarkets has a posted policy whereby if they scan an item for a price higher than what’s posted on the shelf, you get the first example of the item for free, plus a $5 coupon if the item is under $10. My local branch never complies with this policy. They always come up with some wild story of why this particular item doesn’t qualify to be free or feign ignorance of the posted policy, and simply correct the price when I point out scanning errors.

    None of the complaints I’ve made to the store manager or the corporate office in the past year has resulted in either the promised follow-ups or the policy being enforced.

    Result: I’ve simply given up. I now only buy highly discounted items on sale in the weekly ad at this store, and give my high-margin business to the store across the street.

    The smartest thing a manager can do is to train his/her staff with the knowledge of what is expected plus the tools to do their job the right way. In service-oriented businesses, staff should be empowered and instilled with excellent service recovery tools and attitudes. Blowing off your customers never builds brand loyalty or repeat business.

    Let the mediocre businesses eventually fail is my new attitude.

  7. Westy, unfortunately, in the Philippines, mediocrity seems to thrive and businesses don’t seem to suffer. When customers condone the mediocrity, it flourishes. As for your case, in the U.S., a letter to the local business bureau or consumer protection agency will probably yield results. I know my Sister in NY is ADAMANT about prices on grocery items being as they are shown on the shelf, and she has always managed to get things as they legally should be… She even peels off price tags if a lower price tag is underneath it, as I gather you are entitled to the lowest price tag price… In our family, dinner table discussions were often about right and wrong (a father, grandfather and uncle who were all lawyers) and I think all of my siblings are fairly tough on issues such as service, pricing, etc.

  8. Unbelievable – said restaurant supply company has achieved the incredible feat of receiving a Company-Level FISHPAN!

    Unfortunately, that letter their COO sent you, while timely in it’s issuance, just sounded like a form letter to me, but can’t say I blame you for waiting a bit just to see if they were genuinely sincere.

  9. I personally believe that no issue whether small or big, mediocre or otherwise should be left unchecked and unresolved. Especially in this country, where lapses, mistakes or irregularities that went unnoticed (deliberately or not) and not rectified eventually, build up and create a monstrous culture that further pushes this banana republic into deeper squalor. I suppose this is how the ‘culture’ of graft and corruption started in this country. Filipinos need to learn how NOT to turn a blind eye on things that truly merit attention and correction. Then and only then will we be able to see genuine and lasting positive changes in our beloved nation. Keep up your vigilance MM :)

  10. Hi MM, its been months not reading about a follow up story on this one so i thought the company ignored your letter-complaint. Oh well, this is really frustrating on your part. Perhaps they think that the first reply was enough already (to pacify you?) and a follow up is no longer necessary to really addressed your concern. I’m not seeing much interest on their part to really clear the issue or do business with you MM. …

  11. Mr.Westy …supervised by managers who don’t care, an attitude that starts at the top.
    A helpful saying that I can never forget..
    “Your business is as good as your worst employee.” –Patricia Fripp
    Thank you MM for another good post.
    Your avid reader,
    Jefferson Long

  12. Good luck MM if you even see the shadow of the chairman or president. I have written to Presidents regarding complaints. Most were acted upon satisfactorily but never will they be the one to reply to your letter or give time to see a complaining customer. Yet, they teach their employees that the customer is the lifeline of their business. Definitely, that COO did not mean what he or she said.

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