Thursday, 2 February 2012

Use by – schmooze by – but don’t let that stand in the way of a good complaint!

I have to say that I don’t hold much with ‘Use by’ dates. I understand that in our unbearably litigious culture, food producers have to cover their backs, but growing up as I did where the breakfast norm involved scraping a layer of mould off a jar of homemade jam proclaiming that it had been made at least 3 years previously, my approach tends to be more of the ‘see if it tastes OK’ variety. None of us have died.

However, even I balked when considering the apparent use by date on some puff pastry that I’d ordered in my delivery from the supermarket yesterday. Yesterday was 1 Feb. The Use by date was not only 31 Jan, but 31 Jan 2010. I couldn’t quite believe it. 2010. Really? I mean that’s pushing it, even for me.
I rang the call centre. They were terribly sorry. Could I hold? I could. Although I could probably have asked them to call me back. Anyway, it didn’t take long for them to return. Could I confirm that it really said 2010. I said I could definitely confirm that it did. I had to check – it’s not unheard of me to have misread something like that, but no, it definitely said 2010. I held again. A short time later, she was back. They were terribly sorry about this. They’d like to offer a refund and a £15.00 voucher as a gesture of good will. And the store manager (of the store where the shopping came from) would like to call once she’s investigated. Would that be OK? But of course. It’s about the MOST inconvenient time of my day. I have nothing better to do – after all, I have a load of shopping to put away, tea to cook, reading to be heard, tables to be battled with, spellings to be dragged kicking and screaming from under a fridge magnet to be implanted into Pink’s mind , chickens to put to bed, another hour or so of work – you get the picture.

Anyway, she called. “We’re terribly sorry” she simpered.”2010 is the batch code.” “Rather an inconvenient batch code, seeing as how it sits right under the date.” I remarked. And then “But even so, today is 1 February - this says 31 Jan. That was yesterday. Surely this shouldn’t have been sent out. There wasn’t even a ‘short shelf life’ warning on my substitutes sheet.” I should say that I wasn’t cross  - after all, I had the refund and the voucher under my belt – just interested to know what she would say. Pink was doing some silent cheerleading in the corner – “Go Mummy! Go Mummy!” – I hope I’m teaching her a valuable life lesson. To give her her due, she was totally accepting of that. I love being right. “Can we deliver you some more? Free of charge?” But of course.
And the original pastry? In the freezer. After all, it was only one day over its use by date. I’m sure it will be fine.

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