Ken loves coffee from Gevalia, He has been an auto-ship customer of Gevalia since 1989. That means that they send him two pounds of coffee every month, and he sends them money. If it were possible to bottle that kind of customer loyalty, it would sell even better than the finest coffees. But Gevalia’s new corporate overlords, Kraft, don’t want to bottle his loyalty. They don’t even want him as a customer anymore. His account has been put on hold. No coffee for Ken. And no one knows why.
This is the story of a little Swedish company that makes some of the best damned coffee in the world, at least in my opinion. And I consider myself knowledgeable, when it comes to my beans. So, I have been a loyal customer of this company since 1989. That’s a total of (dammit, i need my calculator) 23 years, during which I have been on their monthly auto-ship program to the tune of approximately $37 bucks a month for two little pounds of delicious coffee. Then Kraft Foods bought the company, but the delicious coffee continued, without change in quality or quantity. Then they outsourced their internet work, shipping, order fulfillment, warehouse AND customer service — all to different companies. Then suddenly six months ago my coffee stopped. My account had been put on hold. No matter what anyone does, no matter who I talk to, no matter how hard we get behind it and push, they can’t get my account turned back on.
We got it started once in November, and they shipped out 1 box of coffee, which got lost in their own warehouse. Then my account went on hold for no reason again. I was, at least, credited for the lost box of coffee.
Two weeks ago I called the “Executive Help Line”, which I’ve traced to a “staffing solutions” firm in Manitoba, and pleaded my case one last time. I have to be one of their most loyal customers (suckers)!!!!! Certainly there was someone somewhere who could push the right button and turn my account back on. I was promised by the outsourced gentleman that Gevalia really did indeed appreciate my silly brand loyalty and that someone would really and for sure call me back when the problem was solved. That was two weeks ago.
Last week I discovered that my other favorite coffee in the world (Zabar’s in New York City) has an automatic monthly program for about a third less the Gevalia, plus they offer FREE SHIPPING! And as of this week, I’ve been enjoying my Zabar’s every morning and Gevalia can kiss my ass
This story ultimately has a happy ending, then. But for all of you business owners out there, this is how you alienate and drive away a 23-year customer: deprive them of caffeine.