Price Smart, Kettle Korn and Intrusive Marketing Tactics…

Some of my previous posts need an update since most readers don’t troll back several weeks and dozens of posts ago…

Price Smart (and apparently Cost U Less) has apparently closed its doors to customers… If you read this seemingly innocuous post on Price Smart that I put about two months ago, and followed the rather lively reader reaction it elicited, you will know that the likely closure had some serious writing on the wall… thank goodness I didn’t renew the three cards we have in our household. I feel terribly for the employees who will be out of a job but I do not feel sorry at all for the management who must have brought this on themselves. What a sad example of how the first beneficiary of the much fought for liberalization of the Philippine retail laws has now gone totally kaput!

I featured Holy Kettle Korn a few weeks ago as part of a post on “Corny Snacks” and there were several readers who seemed to concur that this was a good product. It seems the owner or one of the owners just happened to see the post the other day (I have no relationship with Holy Kettle Korn nor did I know who owned it before I wrote the post) and he has generously offered to provide some free popcorn for anyone who put a positive comment on the entry prior to July 5, 2006! Geez, that has never happened before on this website, so please re-visit the post and find out how you can claim your freebies… Hmmm, I wonder why I didn’t get an offer of freebies…heehee…I jest.

Finally, about a year ago, I wrote a scathing rant about intrusive marketing tactics of some Ayala Land representatives and brokers who had gotten hold of my personal contact details and were incessantly bothering me. If you haven’t read the RANT please do so, it is a Marketmanila classic (along with the fishpan brouhaha and my stolen yema photograph). I thought to write a long summary of events that followed but suffice it to say that I was reasonably satisfied with the response. After I wrote a letter to some of the Ayalas themselves, the CEO and the Head of Sales, I got a very rapid and comprehensive response. In answer to the issues raised, they eventually admitted or divulged that they had obtained my contact details in a highly questionable manner, possibly stolen, that other companies including one that had sold me our beach lot and my car were possibly involved as well, that Ayala agents misrepresented themselves as calling on behalf of very senior Ayala executives, that they should not have been repeatedly calling me at home, after office hours and on weekends. They admitted it was inappropriate to continue to get calls after I had formally requested that my name be removed from their calling/mailing lists. I received letters of apology from all concerned, personal face to face apologies, and assurances that I would never be bothered by Ayala again. My contact details were to be expunged from their records. They were revamping the internal and agent rules for contacting potential clients. The brokers who featured most significantly in the mess were banned from selling Ayala properties. And two weeks later when I received yet another solicitation, that broker was immediately suspended for not having referred to an internal “blacklist” or “do not contact” list. All in all, a satisfactory result and I commend the Sales Director, the CEO and the Board members who worked to correct this. Moral of the story, if you think you have been wronged, complain and insist on the issue being properly resolved. So many Filipinos do not bother to raise a proper stink, so we end up with crappy service as a result…


20 Responses

  1. Instead of giving away free Holy Kettle Corn, the owner should be sending some supply of the stuff to Davao. I was in SM the other day, and although the Holy Kettle Corn kiosk was open for business, they had NO stock of Holy Kettle Corn. Since they carry no other products, I am not sure why they were even open! Why pay rent to SM when you have no products for sale! I was back at SM the next day, and it was still the same situation – no products available!

    It’s bad when the company is giving it away for free, but you can’t buy it in Davao!

  2. In reference to raising a proper stink — sometimes it’s just a matter of complaining to the right people. Figure out which parties are empowered to make decisions, and proceed accordingly. Complaining loudly at the top of one’s lungs and hoping someone will listen gets one nowhere.

  3. There is a column in the Inquirer where consumers can voice out their complaints regarding services and products.

    Maybe, someone should start a company specializing in consumer complaints.

  4. i thought pricesmart in the fort is still open until 5:00 pm? thats what the cashier told me, although the whole warehouse is empty save for the meat section which is what i believe will be the most missed here.

    the cashier also said they will reopen august daw. the american partners are gone, and the local one is getting new partners to infuse more capital. i doubt they’ll reopen august, though.

  5. Just when I thought I couldn’t love Holy Kettle corn any more, they go and do something that nice! kudos to them! :) And to you , MM, for stepping up and fighting for your rights.

  6. question though, if i don’t know anyone from the board of directors or the CEO of such company, will they still be comprehensive in their apology?

    that incident must have left a blot in AyalaLand’s reputation. and i congratulate you MM for not letting such an intrusion pass under the rug.

  7. juls, its relatively easy to find out who is in charge. I have done similar letters for airline companies and hotels around the world and get similar results if your letters are objective, detailed and hit at the heart of the issues…I once considered writing a book on how to complain and get your money’s worth by just compiling the 20-30 situations I have faced so far and written a letter for but I think I would embarrass too many companies… Wysgal, I’m with you. I have given up losing it with the minions, I ask for managers and top brass very early on… Bob, I hope HKC read your comment and they figure out a solution to supply problems down there!

  8. What can I say? My daughter and I are Holy Kettle Corn addicts and can’t pass by a stall without buying a bag! I hope this is a Pinoy product and not a franchise from some foreign company, though…

    Oh, and MM, I am mad at you for making me crave for coffee mangosteen ice cream because when I went to Market Market, they were all out of KAblon Farms mangosteen preserves! Buti nalang I’m not naglilihi, or else this post would be a hysterical one! Hehe. When’s the next mangosteen season?

  9. CecileJ, you aren’t as mad as I am, not to mention my wife, since I can’t get anymore either. I should never have posted that as it was hard enough to find the bloody jam to begin with! Heehee. I told the tindera to get more and she said “hindi ko nga malaman kung bakit ang daming naghahanap noon…”

  10. Aaaarghhhh! Mangosteen jam cravings!!!! Anyone out there know where there’s a secret stash of mangosteen preserves? I am ready to raid it, commando style! What is it about things you can’t have/get that makes them more tempting? Aaargh & double aaaarghhhhhh!!!!!

  11. Can someone please tell me how big the bags or kettle corn are. What size? 1 liter or more in volume or less?
    What size is the bags, like 30 cm. long or what?
    Maraming Salamat Po, Alex

  12. Alex, I believe there are two sizes sold, the large for PHP60 and the small for PHP20. The large is about 9-12 inches tall and perhpas 5-6 inches wide and maybe 4 inches thick…

  13. bob, you’re so peeved about the missing holy kettle corn at sm-davao. MM, i’ve asked someone at the lorenzo farms to call me when the jam is available. that should be anytime soon, since mangosteen season here is just a few weeks away (as well as durian, rambutan, marang, etc.

  14. Millet, you are brilliant! You should buy it all up and resell it in Manila. If mangosteen fruit weren’t so darned expensive here I would experiment with making the jam…

  15. Hello, i know good that ketlle korn was. I was just thinking if i could get the contact no or contact person of ketlle korn. Iam interested of selling the product here in our place. I would appriciate it very much if you could furnish me the info, thank you very much,

    Robel S.

  16. Marketman, I got a call from the new (presumably) manager of pricesmart at the Fort. She told me that they are reopening in October under a new management. Apparently the owner of Puregold has bought Pricesmart (Lucio Co, I think). She promised that the new hypermart will have the same concept and product mix as the old one. And she used the name Pricesmart so I guess they won’t be rebranding it to Puregold…

  17. Chris, yes, I got the same call and I hope it is just as good as the original Pricesmart. I hope they can make it a success this time around… I will be there the first week it opens and will try and put a post for Marketmanila readers. Just in time for Christmas I hope someone gets its act together!!!



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