Mangled Wolferman's English Muffins Crush A Man's Dreams

All John wants to do is order his Wolferman’s English Muffins online from Harry & David, but fate has other ideas. As you can see from his photos, the packages keep coming all bashed-up and defiled, and the muffins inside are all bashed up and inedible.

John knows he can get freebies, but he figures more free messed-up muffins aren’t going to do him any good. What he wants is for the shipping problem to be fixed.

He writes:

I feel that the usual channel of emailing Customer Service with my problem only results in a “make customer happy” automated-response. They just send a replacement order. If I called up after every order and had the slightest negative thing to say – they’d probably replace the order.

I’d have muffins coming out of my ears.

No, fix the problem. I think I have a sound theory on why their stuff is getting wrecked in shipping. I want this to go to the guy that puts the stuff in the box – see what he thinks. Is that the problem? What can be done to ensure an otherwise fabulous customer experience doesnt get wasted by a packaging and shipping problem?

So, let’s bridge the gap between the Operations and the Customer Service departments and solve a problem!

Ok, a bit dramatic, it’s just muffins afterall, right? And I’m sure you’ve never had anyone get this entirely passionate about muffins. But they are so good!

In his complaint letter to Wolferman’s, John put together some complaints and suggestions:

In the first shipment, the box was not adequately taped on the bottom, which explains why it tore open. Tape is good, use it!

The box was crushed quite badly, which damaged the muffins inside. Crushing the muffins unfortunately makes them very difficult to eat since they are crumbled and broken into many pieces. These are meant to be toasted, which can’t really be done.

I contacted customer service, and the service was wonderful. I was treated very well, and the customer service rep offered to replace the order. I was not expecting this, but it was most welcome. I even received a 20% off next purchase coupon.

The replacement order arrived very quickly. Unfortunately, the box was crushed again! The muffins inside fared much better this time, and only 2 or 3 were crushed. Overall, the order is acceptable. But alarming, nonetheless. One bad shipment I can understand, but two in a row suggests there is a problem.

I noticed something about both orders that got me wondering why this box-crushing keeps occuring: both orders were wet. Yes, wet.

Each muffin bag had what appeared to be condensation around them, and the box felt slightly damp. It was certainly not dripping wet by any means, but enough that the box felt softer than normal. Cardboard boxes are extremely sensitive to moisture and humidity.

So I have a theory: Is it possible that the muffins are baked, bagged hot, and boxed for shipment in such a short timeframe that they are not allowed to come to room temperature? Could the excess humidity from the condensation cause the boxes to weaken to the point that they no longer withstand the crush of shipment?

Keep in mind, there are 12 large bags in a box – that’s a lot of heat, and a lot of moisture. So much in fact, the bag has water spots, and the bottom of the box has visible water.

Here’s the deal. I’m not looking for freebies, and I’m certainly not complaining about your product. To be honest, the muffins are incredible. It’s just unfortunate that it is getting wasted during shipment. I don’t want this email to get filed as a “customer complaint” and get a handout to make me a “happy customer”. I’d like to see a solution. Escalate it, think it over, problem solve. Look into the moisture issue and see if that is weakening the box? Maybe you need a different cardboard stock? Styrofoam inserts to keep it together? Surely a solution can be found that is not costly. I can’t imagine that replacing an entire order is the most cost-efficient means to solve the issue. These things are not exactly cheap either.

Wolferman’s wrote John back with an alternate theory of why the boxes busted:

All our bread products are flash frozen immediately after baking to preserve freshness, and will thaw in transit. As part of this process, the packaging of our muffins is extremely important to ensure arrival in optimal condition. It is necessary for the bag to be loosely sealed, allowing the product to “breathe” as it thaws in transit. If the bag was airtight, the moisture would be trapped inside with the muffins, causing them to arrive soggy.

Based on your description of the box, it sounds like the shipment was packed in a small, enclosed space under high temperatures at some point in transit. Perhaps the box was tightly packed among other boxes in the back of a hot UPS truck. Typically this is not a problem, but if the surrounding boxes created an airtight space, the moisture would not have been able to escape the box as the muffins thawed. This may explain the condensation damage to the box.

In your email, you did not make it clear which muffin varieties were not in satisfactory condition in the second shipment. Please let us know and we will gladly replace them again.

Your satisfaction is very important to us. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

And they concluded the letter offering John exactly what he didn’t want — a freebie.