Do you ever go to the store and see a gluten free product that you would like to try, but you don’t because you are not sure what it tastes like and if it will be worth the $6.00 you paid? Or maybe you bought that bag of gluten free cookies, because the picture looked so good. Then you get in the car and you can’t wait til you get home to try them and you open the bag and dig in, only to find out they are terrible! The aftertaste is so bad and you frantically look all of your car trying to find that water bottle that you know you have somewhere to wash the taste out of your mouth? We have all had those experiences. Gluten Free products are expensive and when we decide to try a new product or even one that we have used for a long time you expect to have a product that tastes good and is fresh, something worth the $6.00 you just paid.
Recently, I bought a package of Food 4 Life English Muffins. This purchase was a splurge. Being the Mama, I rarely buy prepackaged foods, because I can make almost anything at home using Mama’s Almond or Coconut Blend flours or ones of my mixes. But this day was different. My husband and I were shopping after a doctors appointment I had in Missoula. We stopped at the Good Food Store for lunch, Oh the deli at the Good Food Store is amazing, they even offer a variety of gluten free baked goods and lunch items. I was craving gluten free pizza, the Good Food Store has a great pizza bar and the flavor of the pizza that day was Margarita. So while I was waiting for the pizza to cook my husband and I walked around the store. I picked up some loose gourmet teas, and some fresh bulk spices. Then we just peaked at the new gluten free items at the store. I saw these Food 4 Life English Muffins. I know, I know they are not new, but my other kids have been eating regular English Muffins at home so I thought I would splurge and get my Lexie a package.
Before you ask, yes we have a gluten and gluten free household. With a family of 8 we cannot afford to feed gluten free to everyone. Every dinner or breakfast the we make for the family is gluten free and everyone eats the same thing. I do not cook two different meals, just one, and it’s always gluten free. However, for the kids lunches and snacks the non-gluten free kids are allowed to have regular bread and muffins. The only gluten in the house, is their bread, English muffins, crackers and bagels. They have their own toaster and their own area in the kitchen where they can prepare their food. So we are still “gluten safe”. This is a choice that we have made for our family. Each family has to make a choice that best fits their families needs.
So anyway, I thought, it would be a special treat to bring Lexie some gluten free muffins. So I went back to get my slice of gluten free pizza first and what do you know, the entire pizza sold before I even got there. I started to cry, literally. I know it’s silly, but I was really looking forward to that slice of pizza and waited ten minutes for them to make it. So I had to settle for something else to eat. After we were done eating I picked the muffins up out of the freezer and purchased them. Montana was cold that day, I think the weather was about 10 degrees so there was no reason for the frozen muffins to thaw. We made a quick stop into Costco to get some frozen foods and we stored them all together. We drove home about 1 hour 15 minutes. Everything was still frozen when we got home. And everything went straight to the freezer.
So on Sunday afternoon we all decided to have BLT’s using our Gluten Free English Muffins. I pulled the muffins out of the freezer and one of them was molded on the bottom. Then I looked at the rest, and on the bottoms of each of the muffins they were molded. I was pretty disappointed and Lexie was pretty sad that she didn’t get to enjoy her special treat. I was equally disappointed that $6. was wasted.
I contacted the company and at first did not have a great experience. So I posted on Facebook about my experience. I apologize to each of you for doing that. That was not kind on my behalf or professional. It would have been best to go to a manager. But after posting, I found that several people had similar experiences. Within an hour I took the post down. That was not a good representation of my character or my heart and I ask that each of you will forgive me.
The next day, the customer service manager or owner, not sure which, called me. She apologized for my experience and we talked for about an hour. It could have been my fault. On the way home they could have thawed slightly on the bottom and then when put in the freezer there could have been a condensation issue. Or when the delivery drivers or stores transfer the product they could be sitting out too long to get off loaded or put on the shelves and thus thawing out on the bottom causing condensation, and resulting in mold.
The manager apologized for my experience, both customer service, and the mold issue. I explained to her that this has happened to numerous people and thought it is an issue that should at least be given consideration and research so others don’t go through the same experience, and she agreed. She also asked me to apologize to each of you that had a similar experience. I also explained that not every person can return product to a store, because they drive 1-2 hours to get to a health food store like me. They also may have health issues like me and not be able to get out of the house very often, or may be healthy and just not have time to get out of town often. She agreed and noted that although they cannot give a cash refund, due to how distribution works, but they can offer replacements with coupons. That is sufficient for me. I did tell her that it would be important that the customer service staff take the issues seriously and at the very least offer an apology for the issue. Sometimes we just need to be validated. She agreed wholeheartedly and before she even called me she addressed the issue with her customer service staff.
So in this case, we both had issues that we were not proud of. Food 4 life was not proud of their customer service issue, or the fact that there was a problem with their product. And I was not proud of making a post that would possibly hurt their sales or deter people from buying their product. Food 4 Life has a lot of great products and they are pioneers in the gluten free business, offering a variety of gluten free products for years before the big companies jumped on the bandwagon. They deserve our support. I like their products and I think you will too!
So Food For Life and Gluten Free Mama decided to turn this unfortunate situation into a positive. Everyone makes mistakes, everyone has bad days, and sometimes problems happen in manufacturing. We don’t know what happens to our products once they leave our buildings, and we trust the transportation and stores to take the utmost care of our products. Even then, things still happen. And with email these days and seeing hundreds a day, sometimes we forget the “kindness” factor and just rush through them to get them all done. We all need to stop and think about our emails, regardless of who you are, what company you are, or if just sending messages to friends. Are we being kind? That was a good lesson for Food 4 Life and it was good lesson for Me.
So Gluten Free Mama and Food for Life teamed up to offer a gluten free giveaway for one special person. In this giveaway is a Food 4 Life Tee Shirt, Apron, and 3 coupons for free Food 4 life products. Also, we included Mama’s Almond Blend, and Mama’s Pie Crust Mix and we are throwing in a bunch of Gluten Free Mama goodies.
There is a positive in every situation. We can always learn from our mistakes. Please forgive us for our mistakes and join with us as we turn this into a positive situation!