Woolworths in damage control over baby formula bungle

Woolworths has been forced to apologise to a disgruntled customer after she shared her disappointment with the supermarket chain on Facebook.

Reannon Spencer, a mother of three from Albury in New South Wales, emailed her store asking why there was only a limited range of baby formulas in stock.

On March 14 she received a phone call from the manager of the baby products section who explained he felt Woolworths didn’t need to stock the product Spencer was after because newborn babies should be breastfed. Upset by this response, Spencer turned to social media.

“I think being a parent is hard enough and we should not have to justify why we choose to bottle or breast feed,” she wrote on Woolworth’s Facebook page.

In response to her post, Woolworths said they were disappointed by Spencer’s negative experience.

“We are very sorry that you not only had a bad experience in one of our stores, but that you had been both upset and dissatisfied with the responses received from your contacts with Woolworths,” the company wrote.

“We believe that mothers should be supported in their individual nutrition choices for their newborn children whether that be formula or breastfeeding.”

Our HR Company founder Margaret Harrison says managers and business owners need to ensure staff aren’t misrepresenting the position of the company in person, email or on social media.

“I think it’s a problem that needs to be dealt with,” she told SmartCompany. “There should be training programs about business etiquette, your position in the company and how to represent it in a positive manner.”

Harrison says due to social media, problems with business etiquette can go viral very quickly and at any moment.

“Just remember your manners,” she says.

Last month the Soul Pattison pharmacy chain cut ties with a chemist in Thurgoona after a strong social media backlash. The chemist had been slipping notes into customers’ contraceptive pill packets expressing his opposition to contraception for 12 years.

“The pharmacist has acknowledged the likelihood that some people may assume that the views expressed are reflective of Soul Pattinson’s position on this issue,” Soul Pattinson said in a statement on its Facebook.

“Consequently, it has been agreed that he will no longer be associated with the Soul Patterson brand.”

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