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The scoop on Baskin Robbin's customer service

A couple of months ago I was having a bad day, so GC, who is very sweet, brought a tub of ice cream over to cheer me up. But not just any ice cream! It was Baskin Robbins Gold Medal Ribbon. (Whenever we go to Baskin Robbins for a cone, GC always tries a different flavour, but I always get Gold Medal Ribbon, except for that one time in Peterboro when I tried Caramel Espresso but regretted it and wished I’d gotten Gold Medal Ribbon instead.)

Now, as everybody knows, the very best part of the Gold Medal Ribbon is the ribbon. It’s a rich twist of caramel that winds its delectable way through the chocolate and vanilla ice cream, bringing out the best in both of them.

But on that particular day, in that particular tub of ice cream, there was a problem. The problem was there was virtually no caramel ribbon in the entire tub of Gold Medal Ribbon. Eternal optimist that I am, I kept digging deeper and deeper, in pursuit of the elusive ribbon, telling myself it must have all sunk to the bottom. But no. All the caramel in the entire tub would have fit on a single teaspoon. Sad to say, without its caramel ribbon, Gold Medal Ribbon is boring. Lackluster. Not worth $8. By the time I got to the bottom, I was one bitterly disappointed fat former optimist.

I’m a pretty good consumer. If I’m disappointed in a product, I contact the company and politely tell them why. This happens maybe twice a year. In my experience, most companies are very good about responding promptly and offering an apology and, usually, some kind of solution, such as a refund or a replacement.

I contacted Baskin Robbins via the “Contact Us” form on their website. I explained the problem. They never acknowledged my note or dealt with my complaint. I tried again a few weeks later. I explained that this was my second attempt to communicate with them regarding this matter, and said I would appreciate a response. No response. That was a week ago.

I can’t think of a better way to alienate customers than to ignore their attempts to communicate with you. I mean, why even put a “contact us” form on your website, if you have no intention of reading or responding to your customers’ inquiries?

32 comments to The scoop on Baskin Robbin’s customer service

  • Deb

    speaking of customer service…we have been receiving phone calls for Rob for a year now from Royal Bank…they always call when he is at work and then ask for a better time to call…I tell them evening and a week later they call during the day again. Well, yesterday they caught up with him (he was home during the day). Rob told them that he wasn’t happy with their customer service. And, while he had them on the phone, why was the interest rate on his RBC Visa 15% higher than his TD Visa…they agreed to lower it.

  • I guess they don’t know the dissatisfied customer rule. “a satisfied customer will tell one or two people but a dissatisfied one will tell ten”. While I am not a fan of carmel (unless it’s handmade and wrapped around a marshmallow), I would be reluctant to purchase their products if they don’t back them up.

  • In this age of Twitter and Facebook and blogging, companies ought to be paying attention to what you are saying. These sorts of things can generate a lot of negative publicity for a company VERY quickly, and rightly so. I’m thinking of and Maytag.

  • Communication through the web is always touch and go. Try sending them an old fashioned letter. If it is polite and reasonable, and makes a clear request for some kind of appropriate compensation, there is a decent chance they might respond.

  • Tom Sawyer

    Well, Zoom, GC should have bought the Baskin Robbins ice cream from The Home Depot. Any time you have a problem at The Depot, and the instore staff can not or will not resolve it, a simple 1-800 phone call to their customer service in Atlanta, GA, and it’s fixed. The reps down there don’t even let you finish telling your story; they just offer to mail you a gift card for x number of dollars and it’s a done deal. They don’t want names, they don’t want receipts. Nothing.

    It’s almost disappointing in a way, because I like to tell them the whole story–all the details–and without being impolite by rushing me or cutting me off, it’s resolved. I make the phone call just assuming there will be some skirmish–even raised voices–but no. And before I know it, it’s over.

  • I’m like you – I only write when I’m very disappointed, and then its very polite. I had a similar situation with Fortino’s (a grocery store – not sure if you have them in Ottawa). I bought one of its fresh prepared garden salads and took it to work. When I got to work and started eating it – I discovered it was full of a bunch of inch long pieces of elastic – like the type you find around vegetables. I left them a note through the contact form – I did get a form receipt letter telling my my feedback was appreciated, and due to higher than normal feedback volume – I should hear from some one within the week – It’s been three months. I’ve never heard back.

  • Tom Sawyer

    At The Home Depot you’ll find Baskin Robins in the freezer section of the appliance department. Or in the lumber department.

  • I had a similar experience over two years ago with Enterprise Rent a Car. Their instore service was TERRIBLE, and when I wrote to head office to explain why I was dissatisfied, I never heard anything about it. Worse yet, was that I explained that because of the incompetency, I had been left stranded, without the car I had reserved. But nope, no response! Haven’t rented from them since.

  • Nat

    I don’t get not even sending you a thank you for your email. Very odd.

    Well, it’s all over the internets now. (Me, I’m more of a Jamocha Almond Fudge girl myself.)

  • XUP

    I don’t think companies depend on customer goodwill the same way they used to when customers were actually loyal to a brand or business. In the same way that the employee-employer relationship has changed to virtually eliminating loyalty from both sides; so too has the customer-business owner relationship changed. Customers come and go. Businesses come and go. That’s why there’s little money or effort put into customer service.

  • sassy


  • Stephanie

    Lately, I sent about 3 complaints/inquiries about products and I think 2 of them, on the online form, asked for my mailing address. About a month later I received a coupon in the mail. I’m guessing it’s to compensate for screwing up…

  • Carmen

    Maytag… My one month old fridge broke….got fixed, broke a year later, got fixed, broke a few years after that, got fixed. The last time it broke, I was told it was the compressor and no longer covered. One wise technician told me to call them with my serial number etc. “just to see”. I was ready to argue, fight, you name it… And the person at the other end of the line (South Carolina, no less) said very quickly “yes, we’ll cover everthing”… and they did! (it was about $ 750)… wow!

  • Starbucks. Won’t let you return products recalled to their stores. You must MAIL the junk in (after first calling to get the appropriate packing required to do so sent to you of course). When I emailed to tell them that this was a bunk way to treat a caffiene junkie who spends five bones a day on coffee, and they never emailed back, I took my business to Second Cup, where they do their espresso shots by hand as opposed to by machine. SUCK IT STARBUCKS!!

  • I never understand why companies want to take one problem – in this case, substandard ice cream – and turn it into two problems – substandard ice cream & customer service. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

  • gc

    Just want to reply to Ottawa Diva re Starbucks. I had one of those really expensive Saeco machines purchased through Starbucks and after a year I noticed there was water leaking on the inside of the machine. I called Starbucks customer support and told them my warranty was probably up but was there anywhere I could bring the machine for repair. They told me it was a known problem and asked me which Starbucks store I frequented. The customer service rep put me on hold, for a moment then returned and told me he arranged it with the manager of “my” store that I could bring the machine in and get a new one or a full refund. I upgraded to a newer model AND got a free pound of coffee for my troubles. That was customer service extraordinaire! Although I do agree… I liked it better when they pulled their shots manually.

  • Lo

    I agree. They shouldn’t have the option to ‘inquire’ or ‘contact’ if they are not going to ‘respond.’ It’s time you switched to Ben and Jerry’s ‘If I had a Million Flavours’ It’s to die!

  • I’ve achieved a fair bit sending emails but I always put my blog address on the bottom of the email and I make sure that I write about. That usually gets their attention and brings results. Try it again…ciao

  • Baskin Robins clearly do not care about customer service. That is terrible. I have been told Kawartha Dairy makes delicious ice cream…and they’re Canadian. I think I will try them now.

  • The other day I ordered a blueberry muffin from a coffee shop. I was starving but decided to wait until I was at work to eat it. When I finally broke it open, I was pissed. There was one, solitary blueberry in the center.

    I guess I should have ordered the ‘blueberries’ muffin.

  • Tom Sawyer

    And it wasn’t even a blueberry. It just looked like one. It was fake, right?

  • Deb

    Laura; Kawartha Dairy is in our area…at least our summer area. Great ice cream

  • Tom Sawyer

    Just before this thread dwindles to dust, let’s get real. Companies are people. That’s what companies are. Just like governments, and any organization. They’re all made of people. And I’m guessing there are plenty of people at Baskin-Robbins (and most of the companies mentioned in these comments) who would be dismayed–even horrified–to learn that a customer was not properly replied to, or not replied to at all. Most of the retailers we’ve mentioned are not fly by night; they’re in business for the long haul and have been for some time. They are not run by incompetence, they do not fly by the seat of their pants. They’ve invested a great deal of money developing and marketing their products, and they’ve invested a great deal of money keeping their customers satisfied when something goes wrong.

    So what happened, Zoom? You contacted Baskin-Robbins twice now with no response. You don’t say exactly how you contacted them, but I am guessing by email. (I prefer to call 1-800 numbers and speak to real, live people. And I’m amazed at how often I have to go through layer upon layer of voice prompts to get someone. I know: most of us have been there. But I’m equally amazed when I call a large company and get a live person instantly.) So, you emailed Baskin-Robbins. And nothing happened. Well, something did happen. Something went wrong. The emails were lost? Both? Someone’s asleep at the wheel? We could brainstorm this and come up with thousands of possibilities, couldn’t we?But the fact is something went wrong. Yes, I agree, especially in this day and age, that customers come & go and so do companies. But that doesn’t really apply in this case. Because we’re talking about Baskin-Robbins, a leader in their retail field. (For what it’s worth: I’ve never been to Baskin-Robbins. I don’t normally eat ice cream or desserts.) So something went wrong; something is broken at Baskin-Robbins. And Baskin-Robbins doesn’t seem to know about it. Yet. They should know but they don’t seem to. Likely that is a result of Baskin-Robbins being such a large organization, and it takes just one person to make one mistake for all this to happen. If you did email, all the complexities of internet technology can complicate matters, too. And so on.

    So, what’s my point?

    Call the 1-800 number and see if you can get some satisfaction, not only in resolving your complaint, but in letting Baskin-Robbins know that something is broken there. You really should let them know, even if it means a phone call on top of the two emails. It’s the right thing to do.

  • John

    Hello Zoom
    Starbucks customer service is the pits here in Puerto Vallarta too. They ground my coffee incorectly and when I tried to return it they said that I must have asked for it that way. I guess that their training/denial program is the same no matter where you go.
    See you in April back at Mexi`s for a tequila.
    All the best

  • That’s a lot of work, eating that much ice cream! And no, I’m not being sarcastic. I have a tendency to pick out all the globs of cookie dough when I eat my ice cream (which is, obviously, cookie dough ice cream) and then, in the end, I’m always left with this sort of Swiss cheese version of left over vanilla. I really should just buy cookie dough, but working through the ice cream (wrist cramps and all), it feels like more of a reward when you finally get to the good stuff.

    All this is to say, I feel your pain.

  • Deb, I’ve heard that before, that you can often get your credit card rates lowered just by asking.

    Donna Lee and Finola, I agree, in the age of the internet, you’d think they’d be especially vigilant about monitoring complaints. I’ve taken my complaint from a private matter between the company and me to a public matter on my blog, where thousands of people will potentially read it, and where it will be forever googlable.

    Milan, I’m considering phoning their 1-800 number, but I don’t think I’d actually go so far as to write a letter, find an envelope, buy a stamp, etc. It’s only ice cream.

    Tom, I didn’t know that about Home Depot. I guess they figure it’s easier and cheaper just to go by the policy that “the customer is always right” than to look at each case individually.

    Valerie – that’s AWFUL about Fortinos.

    Meagan, same thing about Enterprise! Appalling.

    Nat, I don’t know if I would have been any happier with a “thank you for your email.”

    XUP, I disagree with that. Unless a company has a monopoly, they need to keep their customers satisfied now more than ever. We’re empowered by the internet, which gives us the chance to complain loudly and widely when we’re dissatisfied, as well as the chance to google companies to see what others are saying about them, and it also gives us online shopping and all the options inherent in that (limited admittedly, for ice cream shopping).

    Sassy, you could be right. It’s either that, or they’re saying “We haven’t figured out this internet thing yet.”

    Stephanie, that’s interesting. Did they include a letter or anything with the coupon?

  • Carmen, that’s interesting too. I’ve heard a lot of things about washers and dryers breaking down immediately and frequently, and people having to negotiate their own post-warranty deals with the manufacturers.

    Ottawa Diva, GC and John: Wow, you’ve all had customer service experiences with Starbucks – two negative, one positive. Interesting. I wonder if it differs by franchise? (although it sounds like GC dealt with head office, Ottawa Diva dealt with both a franchise and the head office, and John dealt with a franchise.) (By the way, Hi John, all the way down there in Mexico. I’m looking forward to that tequila shot when you get back.)

    Colette, exactly! That’s exactly how I see it. I was originally just disappointed in a single tub of ice cream. Now I’m disappointed and pissed off too.

    Lo, I might have to switch on principle.

    Rositta, GC also wrote to them and included a link to this blog post, but they still haven’t responded to either of us. I suspect they just auto-delete all the mail that is generated by the “contact us” form on their website. Either that, or it’s nobody’s job to read it, so it just sits in an unread inbox somewhere.

    Laura, I’ll take a look around for Kawartha Dairies.

    Wandering – that sounds like the experience XUP and I had at the Arrow and Loon.

    Tom, I used their Contact Us form on their website to contact them. But you’re right. I’m going to call them. It’ll give them, and me, one last chance to resolve the problem.

    Kim, thank you. Sometimes it really is all about the caramel, not the principle.

  • Zoom! — and dare I say, sometimes the caramel IS the principle?

  • Why isn’t John Robbins paying more attention to the bad customer service Baskin Robbins is giving instead of fighting for cows being tortured. Apparently he doesn’t give two craps about how it’s being run.I too sent a few times complaints about the customer service and never got a reply back. They are horrible both the service and their contact service

  • […] the way, remember when I complained to Baskin Robbins about the tub of Gold Medal Ribbon? I ended up taking Tom Sawyer’s advice […]

  • GMR Lvr

    Baskin Robbins’ Gold Medal Ribbon has been a favorite of mine since I was 10 years old. Like you, I have noticed a reduction of caramel (and chocolate, too) on this product. I also contacted Baskin Robbins upon the reccomendation of a local store manger. I received no feedback about my inquiry despite receiving a ‘promise’ of a response within 24 hours. I, too, am disappointed in the lack of customer service. However, I mostly just want my favorite ice-cream back. Baskin Robbins must really be in big financial trouble if they are sacrificing the quality of one of their signature flavors. If there are any Baskin Robbins folks reading this, please know that you’re jeopardizing relationships with your best fans!

  • when running a business, the first thing you should do is always establish a good customer service-*,