Best Japanese Customer Service

I am crazy about Calbee Lightly Salted Potato Chips. I find its balance of saltiness and crispy texture to be really addictive. Some of my friends are fans of other chip brands, but I have stuck to Calbee’s for quite a long time.

The other day, I was enjoying a bag of chips when I happened to feel something like a hair in my mouth. I spat it out and saw something that looked like a thread attached to a chip. There was little doubt that what I saw was an accidental artifact of the production process.

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(Originally posted on February 10,2011)

It wasn’t a big deal to me at the time, but after a little while I began to wonder what would have happened if I had called Calbee’s Customer Service number. I was overtaken by simple curiosity and called the number printed on the back of a nearby bag.

A female operator picked up the phone. I told her that I had found a thread-like foreign object in amongst my chips. She apologized to me and asked me a couple of questions such as, what did it look like, the product number, my address and phone number, etc. She asked me to send the chip with the foreign object back to them so they could investigate what exactly it was. She also told me that they would send their own delivery company to pick it up. No need to pack it up, she explained, just wrap it with some tissue paper or something. The next day the delivery company guy showed up on my front step as she said and the mystery object (with chip) was shipped off to their office for an investigation.

Two days later I received a phone call from a spokesman at Calbee. He told me, “We just received the chip today here at the factory. We will need another week to write you a report on our findings. Terribly sorry for the wait.”

I didn’t expect a phone call. I began to kind of feel bad for putting them out just to assuage my curiosity. After another two days, I received a box from Calbee. Inside was an apology letter and five Calbee products including a bag of my favorite chips, another bag of chips (Consommé flavored), and a box of Jagalico. I had only expected them to send me another bag of chips, so I was pretty surprised to receive the box.

Now I only needed to wait for their report. They called me six days later, apologized again, and told me that they finished the investigation and report. Two more days after this last call, they sent me another box of five Calbee products along with their report.

According to the report, the thread was a fiber from a factory worker’s uniform. The report was extremely detailed and included pictures. They also detailed preventative measures taken as a result. They closed the report with the line, “devote our entire attention to the production of better and safer products.”

I could definitely feel their sincerity. They must have very thorough customer service manuals. At any rate, I was very happy with how they treated my complaint. It is needless to say that now I am an even bigger fan of Calbee.

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