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52teas said

Email I received this morning, and my snarky reply

Congratulations! You just got a new contact from ContactMe.

Here’s the information your contact submitted from http://www.52teas.com/about/contact-us/:

Name: [Deleted to protect the not-so-innocent]

Email: [Deleted, see above]

Message:
Do you sell any tea? All I see here on your not very easy to use site is sweet flavored crap! I found a link you set up on a message board about Special Teas compared to them you don’t seem to sell tea.

And my reply. I guess I was feeling a bit defensive:

Thank you for taking the time to insult my art. We are an award winning (3rd place 2010 North American Tea Championships) blender of “sweet flavored crap” (though our teas are actually NOT sweetened NOR crap). I’m sorry you don’t appreciate what we do, but there are plenty of other vendors out there that sell unflavored teas. They all get it from the same suppliers we all use, then they package it and put a different name on it and try to convince you that theirs is better than the other guys’. We make a unique, value-added product. I don’t see any point in packaging and selling the same stuff you can get from any number of other vendors. I wish you luck in finding the unflavored teas of your dreams.

—Frank
52teas.com

59 Replies

It is shocking to me that someone actually took the time to write a note like that. I pity them, actually.

And… well, SpecialTeas doesn’t sell tea … either. Now, they blend and flavor tea for Teavana.

I would just like to say that I for one appreciate what you do. I like your “sweet flavored crap” although… I hesitate to actually say that I like crap, because my husband is a sicko and if he were to actually read what I just wrote, I’d never hear the end of it. For that reason, I’ve never told him about your banana flavored honeybush which you call Monkey Farts. I don’t think I’ll even attempt to pronounce Pu-erh in front of him, because I don’t think he’d ever let that go either.

Yes, I’m married to a real strange man.

PS: I’m looking at the calendar, and tapping my foot anxiously.

Wayne said

ROFL. The description of your husband is priceless, made me laugh, thanks!! :D

Perhaps we are married to the same guy! LOL :)

Lindsay said

sounds like my man too! he makes pu’erh jokes all the time.

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I don’t see the point of this post, honestly, other than to beg for compliments from your loyal fans. It really doesn’t do a whole lot to make you look good, just petty. This person contacted you in private and you took it public, which isn’t horribly classy.

But that’s just my opinion. You’d do better to focus on the people who love and support your company than complain about those who don’t.

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Pithy said

Looks like you missed your chance to share your point of view politely and turn this person into a customer. Maybe you should count to 10 before you reply to customer service emails.

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SunnyinNY said

This actually turns me off to 52 teas. It just shows you have no sense of humor. Instead of taking the high road to make a fan, you went for the ‘snarky reply’. What a shame.

FYI…I’ve tried some of your teas & regardless of what I thought, I wouldn’t do business wth a company that allows this kind of treatment of it’s potential customers.

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Wow…just wow

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Let’s face it, the person who emailed this comment wasn’t looking to buy tea from 52Teas, they were simply seeing this as an opportunity to insult Frank. Sure, he could have taken the high road and either ignored it all together or provided some polite lip service to try to win over this “potential customer,” and perhaps he should not have posted this here for all to see … however, I will say that having dealt with Frank many times, I’ve never been dissatisfied with his customer service.

Seriously, if I visit a e-commerce site that sells tea and I don’t find anything that interests me, I don’t take the time to write a nasty email like this … I just move on and try to find a site that is more to my liking. The person who wrote this wasn’t looking to be coaxed into becoming a customer. “Sweet flavored crap” – I’m sorry but that’s just mean, and as an artist myself I know I’d be offended if someone were to call my artwork crap, even if it were via private contact.

Turning the other cheek may have been more prudent. But, I can understand where Frank is coming from.

I can kind of see where he’s coming from, but his response was unprofessional. Posting it here is really, really unprofessional. He lost an opportunity to possibly convert a person over to his teas. Really, how much would it cost to offer to change the customer’s mind with a sample or two? If his teas are as good as he thinks they are, then the customer will instantly be impressed. Chances are they’ll never reply to the e-mail away.

I agree with what LiberTEAS said, and I actually didn’t see anything impolite in 52teas reply to that guy. He simply didn’t treat that guy as “god” (customers are gods?) but I didn’t see that guy as his customer/potential customer anyway.

In Haruki Murakami’s book What I Talk about when I Talk about Running (one of my favorite!), he talked about his style of jazz bar (once upon a time his trade) and his style of writing (his current trade). He said he realized that he couldn’t possible please all customers/readers. It would be more natural to have his own style and stick to it. Then if 10% of all customers would like to come back, his business/writing would be successful and sustainable.

This passage was very enlightening to me. If one’s biggest interest is making as much money as possible, one may try to attract as many customers as possible and aim at stock market at the end of the day. But if one’s biggest interest is the work itself, then one had better stick to the style s/he believes in. Such kind of business doesn’t aim at pleasing everybody, but rather serving people of certain style exceptionally well.

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52teas said

Wow. I just thought I was sharing a funny. I wasn’t really as offended by the message as I was amused that someone would take the time to write an email in protest. It’s kind of like me complaining to Long John Silvers that they don’t have hamburgers. I apologize if this offended anyone. That was sincerely not my intent; I just thought I would share a lighter moment from behind the scenes.

Julia said

I agree! Plus everyone needs a place to vent right.

First time I went to 52teas.com I knew what it was all about. You want plain tea find another site no need to critize because its not like you say you sell plain tea. I am about to go to your site to check out your honeybush flavors. I hear they are amazing

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ssajami said

I understood this as Frank sharing an amusing anecdote of vendor-life.
Calling someone’s art “crap” is insulting, and I am glad that Frank can still view it as amusing.

I think his reply to the customer was respectful, especially given the insulting nature of the original mail. Personally I admire a vendor that is secure enough in his product to not need woo all foul-mouthed potential customers. People, customers, need to hold themselves up to the same standards that they hold the vendors. How can one possible expect to be treated with respect if they treat others with none or are insulting?

I will also take this opportunity to say that I for one, am glad that there are vendors like Frank around, to make special, unique blends. I like regular teas too, even the re-packaged teas that are found everywhere, but 52teas blends are the special indulgences that make tea drinking fun.

Also, I have purchased from 52teas a few times, and have seen the interaction between the vendor and the Steepster community. I don’t think there is anyone here, that will not attest to the superb customer service that 52teas gives it’s customers.

Angrboda said

Personally I admire a vendor that is secure enough in his product to not need woo all foul-mouthed potential customers.

This, so much.

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Frank:

Really?? Seriously?? It’s possible, but since intent can’t be guessed at when typing, if you were “sharing a funny”, or, “a lighter moment from behind the scenes”, you should have, COULD HAVE clarified that and emphasized that WITH WORDS; or perhaps wilth a " :)", or LOL, or HAHAHA, or HEHEHEHE, etc.

Perhaps I’m JK?!

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As a tea customer….it doesn’t come across that way.

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