Satisfaction Guaranteed? Not at Harry’s Orchards.

October 17th, 2007 by Bob Bly

I got in the mail today a catalog from Harry’s Orchards, a company that sells premium fruit by mail.

The guarantee on the inside front cover says that the product comes with their “bonded guarantee of your complete satisfaction.”

“Bonded guarantee” sounds impressive but lacks specifics.

So I called, and it turns out that there is almost NO guarantee of satisfaction.

If you order the delicious looking fruit photographed in the catalog, but it turns out to be not so delicious, you’re stuck with it: Harry’s won’t give you your money back.

Would you still buy knowing that their “bonded guarantee” offers no protection against potential dissatisfaction with quality or taste.

(The customer service rep did tell me they’d refund my money if the fruit was rotten, but that wasn’t my concern.)

Or would you, like me, pass Harry’s Orchards by … and get your oranges and grapefruits at the grocery store?

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 17th, 2007 at 11:20 am and is filed under Direct Marketing, General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

30 responses about “Satisfaction Guaranteed? Not at Harry’s Orchards.”

  1. Jodi Kaplan said:

    Bob, I would order from Cushman’s. Their honeybell oranges are juicy and delicious. On the other hand, I’ve ordered from Harry and David (not sure if this is the same company you are referring to) and was quite disappointed. They made mistakes with my order and the gift tower which looked so large and tempting in the catalog turned out to be small and unimpressive in person.

  2. Michael said:

    Like Nick Usborne says in his book “net words,” “If your company has policies and practices that are not quite as you’d like them to be, just be honest about what they are.” And, “An imperfect policy stated honestly will do more good for your business than the same policy described in a manner that makes it sound better than it really is.”

    “Bonded guarantee” sounds like Harry’s Orchards is attempting to make its guarantee policy sound better than it really is.

    I might buy from them once, but I wouldn’t buy from them twice if my satisfaction wasn’t guaranteed.

    If Harry’s policy is that they guarantee that the fruit they send out will arrive on your doorstep as pristine and unblemished as though Johnny Appleseed picked it himself, then that’s what they need to say — not this ambiguous guarantee that makes it sound like Harry’s will guarantee your satisfaction with the same no-questions-asked fervor that Nordstrom would.

  3. Steve Slaunwhite said:

    The company says they guarantee complete satisfaction. To me — and just about every other consumer on the planet — that means I get a refund if I’m not satisfied with the product.

    I don’t have the catalog in front of me. But, judging by what you said in your post, Bob, the copy is at best, incorrect, and at worse, deceptive.

  4. Jim Logan said:

    “Complete satisfaction” is self explanatory. What isn’t explained in the guarantee is what happens when you’re not completely satisfied.

    From your phone call to the company it appears there are caveats placed on “complete.”

    This is a poor guarantee that appears to be intentionally misleading. Bad business.

  5. Philip McLean said:

    “Complete satisfaction” sure sounds to me like it ought to include quality. Ah, well, maybe they’ll try this Philadelphia lawyer routine on a dissatisfied customer who happens to have a newspaper column or a popular blog. That would be fun to watch.

  6. David Coyne said:

    I’ve also seen similar deception and omissions with some health supplement companies. I ordered a product from one and they said if I wasn’t satisfied with the supplement, they would give me a full refund. I was disappointed with the product and returned it.

    What they failed to say on their website was that you get a full refund on any unopened bottles in your order, yet get only a partial refund on opened bottles.

  7. Michael Roach said:

    Because of deceptive tactics like this, it’s no wonder marketers get such a bad rep.

    Thanks for having the courage to expose them.

  8. Gloria Hildebrandt said:

    I can’t imagine any fruit that is delivered by mail or courier could be good. I wouldn’t buy fruit unseen. If I can’t pick it from my garden, I buy it from the farmers’ market or a physical store.

  9. Robert Rosenthal said:

    Bob: I called Harry’s Orchards and spoke with two of their reps (the first one apparently got tired of my questions). The second rep said they’d give a refund if someone didn’t like the taste of the fruit and provided an explanation. She told me they’d refund the money even if the fruit wasn’t rotten. Unfortunately, neither rep could supply a definition of “bonded guarantee” (I was particularly interested in the “bonded” part).

    From here, it looks like they may be honorable people making some easily correctable mistakes. Clearly, they need to cement their guarantee and make sure it’s communicated clearly over every contact point. Here’s a quick stab at the written part:

    [Headline]
    No-Risk Guarantee

    [Text]
    We guarantee your complete satisfaction. If, for any reason, you’re not 100% satisfied with our products, simply let us know why (to help our team continually improve quality) and we’ll give you the option of receiving a replacement order or a full refund.

    I think it’s great that you’re calling attention to this issue. Recently on Freaking Marketing I did a post on the practices of the World Reserve Monetary Exchange. Within a few days, the post was near the top of the Google search rankings. At the minimum, this type of discussion helps consumers make more informed decisions. It may even improve the policies of some businesses.

  10. Bob Bly said:

    RR: My favorite guarantee is: return the product or in this case, the unused portion of the product, and get a refund, period. Interesting that they told you they WOULD refund, but my customer service rep told me they would NOT refund if I didn’t like the taste or quality, unless it was rotten.

  11. Robert Rosenthal said:

    And I don’t think they mentioned anything to me about the need to return the unused portion. Your approach to the guarantee is certainly stronger. I was trying to put something together that would be viable for everyone — Harry’s customers and management — within the policy they described over the phone. If they decide to review the guarantee, they should go at it with a clean slate.

  12. Susanna K. Hutcheson said:

    When it comes to what mother nature produces, I really don’t expect a guarantee. While I seldom get bad fruit, I don’t expect each peach to be as sweet as the one I had before. Now, I don’t want rotten fruit. But you can (I think) tell if it’s that bad before you buy it. I thump and smell and meditate on a piece of fruit before I buy it. I don’t see how a seller can guarantee it beyond the fact it is what it is.

    Foods taste differently to different people at different times. I know that Omaha Steaks has a tremendous guarantee and I’ve actually used it one time in three years or so.

    I’d be inclined to give them a try. Whether or not I’d be a repeat customer is another story.

    We all like guarantees. But we have to be practice too. I’ve purchased melons at the grocery store that were not as sweet as I like. But I wouldn’t return it for a refund and don’t expect the grocer to guarantee the sweetness of the fruit.

    It’s like in our own business. I know there are a few copywriters who offer a money back guarantee. But what exactly can they guarantee beyond the fact they’ll provide excellent service in a professional manner? They can’t really guarantee a certain result because the client can mess up the copy or provide bad service or any number of variables.

    So yes, I’d probably buy at least one time if I wanted to. I don’t expect everything to carry a guarantee. On the other hand, if their competition offers a good guarantee, I’d probably go with them.

  13. Bob Bly said:

    The difference between a service vs. a product guarantee is you can’t return the service — e.g., a letter I write for client A cannot be resold to client B. But you can return a product, and if customer A returns my audio album, I will resell it to customer B.

    Consumables are a special category, because once you eat an orange or take a vitamin, that fruit or pill cannot be returned. And foods are especially problematic, since they spoil with age much faster than, say, nutritional supplements.

  14. John said:

    I’ve dealt with this company for quite a few years, and they have always been honest with me. When I asked for an adjustment, refund or replacement, there was no problem. The proof is in the pudding.
    What gets me is how the original comment here grew and grew through other comments (not from experience, but like a mass hysteria) until it sounded like the company was doing something illegal.
    I’m glad I dealt with them before I read comments based on nothing. Sounds like the commentors are the ones who are unethical.

  15. Michael said:

    I don’t get that at all from any of the other comments. All the comments I see dealt with the guarantee and the way that it’s worded. Not sure what proof is in the pudding means, but if you’ve dealth with them a number years and you apparently have had need to ask them for refunds, replacements, or adjustments, perhaps it’s your judgement that needs examining.

  16. Bob Bly said:

    John: with all due respect, your comment makes no sense. When I read their catalog, I don’t know what they do for you, John. I only know that the guarantee is unclear — and that, when I called them, they told ME I could not get a refund if unsatisfied. Since this is totally the opposite of what they tell you, it shows their management is really inconsistent.

  17. Richard Armstrong said:

    I think “bonded guarantee” means that Harry is out on bond.

  18. John said:

    Everyone needs to make their own decision. Based on my experience, I have no problem doing business with them.

  19. John Bickerton said:

    My question is: How can you be unsatisfied with the taste of a pear? If it’s not rotten, then it’s going to taste like a pear. The company fulfilled their obligation to deliver you a pear. You received it, it’s not rotten. The transaction is complete. Geez.

  20. Jodi Kaplan said:

    John,

    What Bob (and the rest of us) are saying is that the “bonded guarantee”, which at first appears to be “better” than an ordinary guarantee, turned out to be essentially meaningless.

  21. Bob Bly said:

    John: What you say is not accurate. With any fruit — pear, orange, apple — one can be sweet, juicy, and delicious, and another dry and mealy.

  22. How Would You or Your Company Handle a Blog Attack? » B2B MarCom Writer Blog said:

    [...] Otherwise, you could be Harry’s Orchards — who doesn’t seem to know that Bob Bly is asserting as fact that the company doesn’t guarantee its fruit. [...]

  23. Tom Messner said:

    Did this used to be “Harry and David” in Oregon? Oregon: home to grapefruits and oranges, you know.
    I always figured they were used to send gift baskets. “Fruit of the Month” club and the like.
    Most recipients likely didn’t order the stuff themselves.
    So if the pear turned out to be a lemon, who knew of a bonded guarantee or an unbonded one?
    In this day and age where fresh fruit is flown in to the Northeast daily from Chile during the winter,
    who would buy fruit by mail? Perhaps if you live in Missoula, but even there they probably have a
    Dean and Deluca or a Korean family picking prime fruit and letting you squeeze the peaches to rest the
    ripeness.

  24. Atash said:

    The answer is that a guarantee is a reassurance to potential customers that helps reduce their hesitation to place the order. That’s why so many companies have them now.

    Actually acting on the guarantee is another question. This year I had a run-in with Van Bourgondien Bulb Co (also doing business under a number of other names). They are 3rd party liquidators for unsalable stock–usually dead bulbs. Sometimes they are live but small and mixed up (they don’t know type, color, etc). Their guarantee says “order with CONFIDENCE…satisfaction guaranteed”.

    Mine arrived dead and rotting. They stalled for time telling me that they were NOT dead but just dormant (like I can’t tell). Eventually when pressed they simply refused to return my money, and said they’d send another (which they won’t–by this time I was suspicious and checked on their reputation–and that is their M.O.).

    Caveat emptor. Guarantees can be empty promises.

  25. T. Lavon Lawrence said:

    That’s pretty sad, just as it dilutes and makes untrustworthy the Satisfaction Guaranteed claims made by legitimately sincere business people like myself. I offer a money back guarantee on my brain training program, and I offer it during the entire year that the person enrolls in the training. Whereas it my sting my ego if someone decides its not for them, the last thing I’d want is someone running around claiming that I don’t keep my word, or that my product is bad because they can’t get me to stand behind my guarantee.

    When a seller of goods makes a promise, especially a money-back or ‘merchandise return’ promise, they demonstrate that they have confidence in what they sell. Never is it a sound business practice to go back on that sort of promise!

  26. T. Lavon Lawrence said:

    I agree with Phillip in that ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed’ ought not be used simply as a ‘sales tactic’ – that’s just plain lazy and uncreative. The product should be of enough quality and care that the likelihood of satisfaction ACTUALLY MATCHES THE GUARANTEE!!!!!! I’d be personally embarrassed if I couldn’t confidently offer my craft and skills with solid quality that ensures the percentage of ‘backers out’ is infinitesimal.

    The key is to love what you do, love what you produce, and love the people you want to buy your product. In the brain training field, there are so many shysters and slick snake-oil salesmen that if I didn’t offer a sense of total security with my products and services, I couldn’t earn any trust. Thing is, once people see REAL QUALITY and receive ACTUAL SATISFACTION, they become stark raving fans who SPREAD THAT TRUST to others!

    T. Lavon Lawrence
    Mental Fitness Trainer, Brian Training Author
    http://www.dynamicmentalfitness.com

  27. Judy Hicks said:

    Good grief! Why didn’t I check for websites like yours before I tossed $100.80 down the drain with Harry & David? Misleading the consumer appears to be a common practice at H&D.

    I just paid an expensive lesson for 2 pounds of cherries and 5 peaches. Yes, that’s right. One pound, a single pound of cherries cost me $43.90. By the way, they were delivered over a month late. It was “Thank You” gift for some great tickets to AT&T Park to see the Giants a month ago.

    A couple of days after ordering that “Thank You” gift, I thought I’d sample their cherries so I ordered a box for myself. Stupid me. Neither time did I check for the weight of what they would send. My gift to myself cost me $56.90.

    Since I was a Harry & David “virgin,” I didn’t think twice about checking why my bank account was debited for two different amounts for the identical product — a box of cherries for my friend with the Giants season tickets and a box for myself.

    Yesterday, I was glad to see an H&D box on my porch which seemed large enough to hold maybe 3 pounds of premium cherries. When I opened the box, I was angry. Five peaches and one pound of cherries and a lot of molded sponge packing.

    I just phoned Harry & David customer service and asked how many pounds were sent to my friend who’d given me the Giants tickets. The answer was “one.”

    Talk about “laughing all the way to the bank”! After my experience with these two orders, I can safely tell you that Harry & David will always be thought of as the “Bernie Madoff of Gifted Fruit” around our house.

    “Satisfaction Guaranteed”? Obviously, I’m far from satisfied with H&D. High prices, late deliveries and embarrassingly small quantities are enough for me to say, “Never again!”

    Now that I’ve read all of the comments above about H&D, I’ll just chalk this up to experience and take all of my fruit gift business to Hale Grove and Pittman & Davis and stick with oranges and grapefruit. Their quality is Hale and Pittman have superior quality products and they have always delivered on time. I’ll go back to citrus and companies I know to be reliable and worth the money.

    I’ve had it with cherries and Harry & David! I don’t know how they’ve stayed in business all these years. Might be that people usually order gifts for other people and gift recipients aren’t likely to complain back to the company. That’s the only thing I can figure. As for me, H&D made $100.80 off, but they’ll never see another dime of mine.

    Nice to know I’m not alone,

    Judy

  28. Alex said:

    No offense, but there seems to be a great deal of confusion on this thread. The bonded guarantee most likely refers to a bond that “Harry’s Orchards” is required to put up by their respective State’s Department of Agriculture licensing and bonding division. The bond ensures that if a dissatisfied consumer, such as yourself, cannot obtain adequate recourse directly with “Harry’s Orchards,” he or she may file a complaint/request for refund against the bond that “Harry’s Orchards” has with the State. A bonded guarantee, therefore, would indicate a guarantee enforced by the respective state, not by “Harry’s Orchards” directly. There is little reason to be surprised that a customer service representative would be unaware of state bonding requirements, but if it is in their catlog, as you suggest, they or at least a supervisor probably should be.

  29. How to Monitor What’s Being Said About Your Company on the Internet | DH Communications said:

    [...] By Dianna Huff On October 17, 2007, Bob Bly posted the following on his blog: [...]

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