Alternatively: a lesson in why trust in companies is hard to earn. Or; you don’t get recurring customers through deception. Also, don’t buy overpriced avocados from Avocado Box.
“Premium” avocados delivered to you? Sounds great. What’s not so great? How they handled my constructive feedback. Are they familiar with the Streisand effect?
Founded in 2016, Avocado Box is a small company based in California that, as the name suggests, delivers avocados in boxes. Gabby, my wife, sent me the featured Facebook post showing a 50% off coupon. I thought, great, I love avocados, and here is a company willing to give me a discount to try their service. I signed up and had my first box on its way. Now, I’m not writing this to review the avocados. They were just as good as ones you could pick from the store yourself or have an assistant pick out for you. I figured they weren’t worth the full price and went to cancel my subscription. Except the website doesn’t allow you to cancel your subscription, you have to e-mail them. So I did.
On Sat, May 21, 2016 at 4:42 PM, Jordan Trudgett <email@example.com> wrote:
I would like to cancel my subscription to Avocado Box
Their response told me that in their terms of service, using their discount code means I am obligated to also purchase a full price box:
Thanks for reaching out to us. In order to receive your “free or discounted box” you agree to one regular shipping cycles after the initial promotion.
Basically, in this particular offer you are obligated to one more box at our normal price before cancellation. This is detailed in our Terms of Service you agreed to during checkout. It is also in our FAQ under “what’s up with special incentives and discounts” as well as detailed in the Order Confirmation email you received.
Team Avocado Box
Okay, I thought. Fine. I was in a rush (at work) to sign up and skimmed the ToS. I didn’t like it, but I was willing to admit fault here. I went to their Facebook page and posted a comment on the featured post that had directed me to their site. I wrote, effectively (and I’m going from memory here) how I felt about the fact that this obligation is not made obvious to the customer at checkout, or at any point, really. How many people honestly read a 10-page terms of service clause when buying avocados? I told them that, as a customer, I expect that a company should have my best interests in mind. I am giving YOU my money, therefore you should be cognizant of my experience. They evidently felt that they didn’t like what I had to say, and promptly deleted the comment and blocked me from their page. Had I known they might do this, I would have taken a screenshot – however in my opinion what I wrote was polite constructive criticism, not something they would delete outright. And I shared it on their page, because that is the comment I would have wanted to see, as a potential customer, before making my purchase.
At this point I’m lost for words. They have completely lost any remnant of trust I had for them. Of course they have every right to display what they want on their page, and remove anything they don’t like. But just because they can, doesn’t mean they should. Customers deserve to know what they are doing. It’s unfair to dismiss negative customer feedback and pretend it never existed. Customers deserve to hear about others’ experiences. Apparently, Avocado Box only thinks that comments that benefit their business are worthwhile to keep on their page, and allaying customer’s concerns is not worth the trouble. That is the message they are sending with their actions.
Angrily (and this I consider to be angry-for your reference), I wrote back:
On Fri, May 27, 2016 at 10:55 AM, Jordan Trudgett <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
I tried to reach out to Avocado Box on Facebook and the comment was deleted and my permissions to post on the page have been revoked.
This is a shameful customer experience. I was willing to buy the next full price box, and turn my opinion of AB around if my concerns were handled professionally and courteously. They were not.
Please terminate my service immediately as stated in the Terms of Service: “You may terminate these Terms of Service at any time by notifying us that you no longer wish to use our Services, or when you cease using our site. ”
You will not get any more of my business.
And their response, for your judgment:
Why would you try reaching out to us on Facebook when you were already emailing us? You posted an angry comment on our PAID advertisement which I chose to hide because why would I leave a negative comment on something I am paying for?
You have misread our Terms of Service as well and taken it out of context.
Regardless of all this, I will cancel your account. I can see that you are distraught with our Cancellation Policy in regards to Special Incentive Deals and will comply with your request.
So, a few things of note here.
- Avocado Box fails to understand why I discussed what I perceived to be a customer disservice in a forum in which customers discuss Avocado Box.
- My criticism was angry (this is subjective, and without evidence, I can’t prove anything. But what I wrote was polite, but direct. Not angry.)
- Avocado Box thinks paying for an advertisement means that “angry” comments from paying customers should be deleted. Because Avocado Box only wants to hear good things about itself.
Regardless of how I justified cancelling my subscription, they cannot obligate me to a payment I don’t authorize. I don’t abide by your terms of service any longer, go ahead and terminate my account. My quote from the ToS was to highlight their deceptiveness. All throughout the ToS, it says you are free to cancel at any time. That is the message you get if you skim through. The sentence I quoted is copied verbatim, which is an unambiguous, unconditional statement.
This only reinforces how important customer trust is. How hard it is to earn, and how easy it is to break. I’m glad I work for Amazon because I wouldn’t sleep right working for a company that treats its customers like this.