Good Customer Service Still Exists

I brown-bag my lunch on workdays, often making enough dinner to have leftovers for the next day's lunch. As such, I wanted to invest in some quality microwavable dishes. About three years ago, I splurged on a set of six “Rock n Serve” Tupperware containers of various sizes. They're perfect for microwaving lunches, with a pop-up vent in the top and a tight-fitting lid. And they can go from freezer to microwave, if needed. I typically use and wash the two medium sizes a couple times a week.

The tubs are supposed to be top-rack dishwasher safe, but although I've followed the directions, cracks have developed in the bottoms. Cracks that go all the way through. This means I can take risotto for lunch, but a stew would become a leaky mess. I had resigned myself to either replacing them or finding an alternative when it occurred to me that Tupperware has a lifetime warranty. The problem was, I had no proof-of-purchase info. I think I bought them from a Tupperware vendor via an internet site when we lived in our old house. But I figured that I didn't have anything to lose.

So I called Tupperware's 1-800 number and explained my problem to Luis. “No problem,” he said. He simply needed the item numbers off the items and replacements would be shipped to me within nine business days. Wow! When it turned out that one of the cracked tubs was no longer available in that size, he and I sat in front of our separate computer catalogs and found a workable substitute. Total cost for the replacement of six containers: $4 for shipping. I am impressed.

In the long run, I should probably switch to using glass containers. I've seen conflicting safety information about microwaving in Type 7 plastic, polycarbonate, which is what these are. [J.D.'s note: Kris is a chemistry geek.] Those “disposable” plastic containers are Type-5, polypropylene, which has mixed reviews as well. Am I leaching plastics into my food as I microwave it? I can't tell the facts from the hysteria on this topic. The problem is, I haven't found glass containers that are truly leak-proof, meaning my soup makes for a messy commute. Also, the lids for glass containers are often not microwave or dishwasher safe. If anyone has found the perfect solution, please share it!

In the meantime, I will remain a loyal Tupperware customer. I've also had great success with returns and replacements from Pottery Barn, Lands End, Totally Tomatoes, Territorial Seeds, AVON, and Williams-Sonoma. These companies are keeping good customer service alive.

J.D.'s note: I had an excellent customer service experience of my own recently. Two of my Apple products were giving me headaches. The scroll button on my wireless Mighty Mouse wouldn't scroll up (only down), and the right “button” didn't work. Also, the battery on my MacBook Pro would not hold a charge — it would drain completely in about 90 minutes.

I went to an Apple Store to get help. The fellow at the Genius Bar explained that my mouse wasn't broken — just dirty. But he couldn't get it to work either, even after five minutes of scrubbing. He gave me a new mouse. Meanwhile, he admitted that my battery was draining too quickly, though he couldn't figure out why. He gave me a new battery. Ten minutes and a completely satisfactory resolution.

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Randy Peterman
Randy Peterman
12 years ago

I had a similar experience at the Apple store. They took care of me quickly, professionally and I just couldn’t get that level of service from any other computer company (or the Geek Squad). Thanks Apple!

JR Boyens
JR Boyens
12 years ago

We have a set of Pyrex bowls:

http://www.amazon.com/Pyrex-18-Piece-Storage-Set-Lids/dp/B000HAVOC6/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/102-8518483-3452114?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1184850032&sr=8-1

and they work great. The lids are super tight and the bowls can handle the fridge, freezer, microwave and even the oven. Lets see your puny plastic do that!

Charles
Charles
12 years ago

Yeah, I sometimes have the same problem with my bluetooth Mighty Mouse. I just turn it upside down and blow some compressed air into the scroll hole. Some people recommend cutting a thin little strip of clear scotch tape and running it through the hole under the ball (face adhesive away from the ball). They call it “flossing.”

I use those expensive lithium batteries and I’m a little peeved at them lasting only about 30 days (at about $5 a set), how long do your batteries last?

Helen
Helen
12 years ago

Kris – freezing your soup or other lunch means it will survive your commute even if the container isn’t 100% watertight. I believe some glass containers are freezer-safe. Not sure about the lid other than maybe keeping a small plate at your desk to use as a cover when you microwave.

Eric D. Burdo
Eric D. Burdo
12 years ago

If your running your own business, Patrick McKenzie has some great tips and articles on good customer support.

http://microisvjournal.wordpress.com/

A good read if your in any sort of business…

Liz
Liz
12 years ago

I have found some success with glass storage containers from Pyrex. The plastic lids are microwave safe and can go in the top rack of the dishwasher. My five-year old plastic lids did not leak any water from the glass container when I shook them vigorously as an informal test.

Pyrex has also come out with a “deluxe” line of glass storage containers where the plastic lids have a pop-up vent for the microwave. I have yet to try these, but Target has them:

http://www.target.com/gp/detail.html/sr=1-1/qid=1184851923/ref=sr_1_1/601-6466741-0577748?ie=UTF8&asin=B00005OTWX

Zeb
Zeb
12 years ago

Kris,

My wife and I have had good luck with Pyrex dishes with the blue lids. They can freeze or microwave (there’s a white vent in the lid) and would address the potential leaching issues. I’ve not put them to rigorous leak-proof testing; that’s what we use our Tupperware for. 😉

June
June
12 years ago

Re containers – I have used the Pyrex glass bowls with plastic lids for transporting soup and other wet items. I haven’t kept them on their side or upside down, but they don’t leak for me. However, I have small (1/2 c) plastic (Rubbermaid) containers that I use for carrying yogurt, and those *do* leak. I compensate by using a tiny sheet of plastic wrap (~2×2 in) to cover the opening before I pop the lid over it. No more leaks. I often bring my work to lunch, too – and like Kris, I love to bring dinner leftovers. To… Read more »

Gabe Anderson
Gabe Anderson
12 years ago

Glad to see a post on this topic! I’ve been a longtime reader of GRS, but this is the first I’ve been inspired to post a comment since this is a topic I take very seriously.

As director of customer support for elearning software company Articulate, I live and breathe customer service. I’m dedicated to providing the best customer service possible.

Fortunately, my customers tend to agree. Here’s a recent story I posted in my blog on the topic:

“Best Customer Service I Have Ever Received”

Thanks for the great blog, J.D.!

Gabe Anderson
Gabe Anderson
12 years ago

P.S. You may have seen our software featured in this LifeHacker post – that ergonomics e-learning course was the winning content in a contest we recently held.

Rich Lafferty
Rich Lafferty
12 years ago

A Thermos or other vacuum jar would let you heat up the soup at home and carry it warm and leak-proof to wherever you’re going, regardless of whether or not there’s a microwave there.

MVP
MVP
12 years ago

I have a set of glass Pyrex containers with plastic lids that I love. They come in smaller, individual-portion sizes. I also like that they’re sort of heavy, so they’d be hard to break. I got them as a wedding gift a couple years ago, so they’re likely still available at stores.

Ryan
Ryan
12 years ago

Pyrex might be the way to go. I bike to work, so the weight is an issue.

Kris, from what I remember, Consumer Reports did a huge test on freezing and microwaving plastics. I believe they found that containers that claimed to be “microwave safe” generally were, but that some plastics could leach even at low temps from certain plastic wraps. This site has a wealth of links http://blogs.consumerreports.org/safety/2006/10/are_microwave_o.html

William Mize
William Mize
12 years ago

As a sidebar to this entry, I’d love to hear more from Kris on the whole microwaving and eating out of plastic containers thing if she chooses to examine and study it further.

It’s like those Nalgene water bottles that they raised such a huff about a few years ago.

Jason
Jason
12 years ago

In terms of great customer service experiences – I recently had one with L.L. Bean at their flagship store in Freeport, Maine. A shirt I had purchased there last year had developed a fray and subsequently a hole. They have a no questions asked, lifetime guarantee and took the shirt back and gave me a gift card for the purchase amount. I should add that I had NO proof of purchase at all. Much like the Tupperware scenario. This is something I did as a “test” and would never dream of using simply because something wore out or faded over… Read more »

Adam
Adam
12 years ago

JD you’re awesome-I mac user. What a great guy!
Good with money, even better with his choice of computers!

crazypumpkin
crazypumpkin
12 years ago

My mom has been a die hard Tupperware buyer for YEARS. Needless to say she’s had a number of pieces ‘fail’. Tupperware has never given her a problem with replacing those pieces (though when you have a early 80’s orange original piece, and the mid 90’s cream as replacement, it can make things look interesting).

Eve Martel
Eve Martel
12 years ago

Just bring a set of dishes to work (a plate, a soup bowl) and heat the food it that instead of your containers. I keep mine at my desk and just wash them after I’m done eating. Glass containers are too heavy to lug around.

Ali
Ali
12 years ago

Another solution for portable lunch — Corning ware. They are a bit heavy, but can handle oven to fridge to microwave. They come with plastic lids with vents and are in different sizes. One example at the following site:

http://www.shopworldkitchen.com/index.asp?pageid=231&upc=71160221079

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
12 years ago

I don’t think I’ve ever heard of tupperware as “splurging” before. 🙂

E.F.
E.F.
12 years ago

Internation convention on plastic identity simply specify that plastic 7 is “other”. Jumping to conclusion about the chemistry composition of plastic 7 could be somewhat confusing.

Double-cheking with the manufacturer, or better – switching to glass – would seem the best option.

Cheers!

Jo
Jo
12 years ago

Reduce landfill!! Reuse the cheap plastic ones from takeaway food – they freeze fine and carefully handled they last for multiple uses. Keep a ceramic bowl at work to reheat your meal. I have tons of these collected from friends and cook large meals and freeze in single portions for work.

I would call Tupperware a ‘splurge’ in Australia – it is more than five times as expensive as simple supermarket equivalent, (no lifetime replacements though!). I prefer free!

Regards

Jo

William Profet :: OneJobTwoSalaries.com
William Profet :: OneJobTwoSalaries.com
12 years ago

Customer support is one of the most important things. But not most of the companies are doing it right (despite it is usually described in their corporate mission pages).

Jesse
Jesse
12 years ago

As geeky and unprofessional as this sounds, I remember one thing that always kept my soup warm and kept my lunch bag dry – those nifty plastic containers that went in the character lunchboxes from when we were kids. They had a lid that twisted on that could double as a bowl or cup (depending on whether it was food or drink you were bringing), and a swift wash in the sink and wipe-out with a paper towel would keep my mom from having to do as much cleaning when I got home. (Yes, I was a thoughtful kid!) The… Read more »

Andrea >> Become a Consultant
Andrea >> Become a Consultant
12 years ago

My friend is an MD (a GP turned psychiatrist) and she says that storing food in plastic or microwaving food in plastic is a bad idea. Although the levels leached into the food are very low, you have to consider just how many “bad” things you’re exposed to every day. Also, dioxins never leave your body, except if you’re breastfeeding (and then the baby gets them).

Cheryl
Cheryl
12 years ago

Tupperware has always stood behind their producst 100%, no questions asked, I have never had a problem replacing a broken item, even if I melted or broke it it!
Pyrex makes a nice line of glass containers with plastic lids, they can be found at Target and Wal Mart for a good price.

Gaming the Credit System
Gaming the Credit System
12 years ago

Those silicon cooking implements are getting more and more popular. Supposedly they do not leach at all, and even if they did, it’s basically just sand. The only problem is if you get it above 428F then it will melt. I wonder how long it will be before somebody takes a hard plastic Tupperware-like container and coats it with silicon?

Giania
Giania
12 years ago

I splurged once or twice on some of the Corningware dishes that Ali mentioned. They’re good in the microwave, oven, freezer and diswasher. They do keep foods warm pretty well, I noticed. I sent home soup with friends before and it was totally spill free. I don’t have the kind with the vented tops, but I admit I’m intrigued. They are obviously pricier than tupperware tends to be, but they’re rugged, the lids fit VERY snuggly, and only the lids are plastic.

http://urltea.com/10qc

SJean
SJean
12 years ago

How about this–good customer service from… A CREDIT CARD COMPANY! I recently opened a Chase Freedom Visa and accidentally entered my online payment info wrong (I think), causing a returned payment (didn’t cause payment to be late, it was more of a test payment). It’s been almost 2 months, and I just discovered that I was also charged a $39 fee for returned payemnt (I know, awful! I usually scour the statements pretty well.) I used their online message center, and within minutes, I had a reply saying the fee would be waived! Often times I’m very disappointed when the… Read more »

Angie
Angie
12 years ago

The LLBean anecdote reminded me of an experience I had at REI a few months ago. We had a fancy-schmancy bike tire pump for several years and loved it. Eventually it lost a part and was unusable. I didn’t even remember where I’d bought it, but I saw online that replacement pieces were available, so I took it to REI to find the part I needed. Turned out they didn’t have it. The guy behind the bike counter said, “Take it to the customer service desk and get a replacement!” So I tried it. Sure enough, I’d bought it there… Read more »

Dave Craggs
Dave Craggs
12 years ago

We just freeze stuff in freezer bags. Then they get microwaved in normal dishes.

Why make things complicated?

Ben
Ben
12 years ago

My wife has also been a Tupperware customer for many years, and has had the same results! It pays to go with a quality company. This is why we have COMPLETELY cut WALMART and all of it’s many companies out of our lives.

MVP
MVP
12 years ago

Re: Tyler and Jo’s comments: Tupperware is a total splurge in our household. But the extra cost has been well worth it in my opinion – the stuff lasts forever, and it’s well-made! I still have some of my mother’s bright yellow hand-me-downs that she got as a wedding gift 27 years ago. I constantly keep a lookout for it at garage sales and thrift stores. I almost did a backflip when I recently scored a highly coveted Tupperware deviled egg container at Value Village for dirt cheap. Small victories!

Jonathan
Jonathan
12 years ago

The company I often find myself singing the praises of is Belkin. I use their powerboards for my entertainment centre and my office. I needed to make a connected equipment claim after a power surge. The people I spoke with made the whole episode so much more pleasant.

Lauren
Lauren
12 years ago

Echoing someone(s) upthread, I keep a ceramic bowl at my desk, with a fork and spoon. Then whether I have (unfortunately) styrofoam-packed leftovers from takeout, or plastic-container-packed leftovers from home, I just dump it in my big red bowl and microwave it, with no worries about plastic particles (which I do worry about often, but not in the case of my lunches!).

Sarah
Sarah
12 years ago

Lock and Lock containers are the best– they have clasps on all sides of the lids. You can put dressing or soup in those things and toss them into your bag with noooo leaks. The best housewarming gift I ever got.

Gray
Gray
12 years ago

Dont’ ya just love when experiences like this happen? It’s so good to see true customer service alive and well, even though it’s a rare thing nowadays.

aj
aj
12 years ago

Speaking with a tech rep concerning a problem with the keyboard of my eMachine, the rep said it had a 2 year guarantee and sent me new one.

My $500 computer out performs my $4000 Dell and has for the last five years.

The real danger of microwaves is that they destroy 80% of the vitamins in food.

A.J. - IAmFacingMillions.com
A.J. - IAmFacingMillions.com
12 years ago

I have to brag on Apple to. I purchased one of the wickedly cool iPhone’s and the first one I received had a minor defect in the assembly of it. It worked fine and I didn’t realize until a few hours after I got home with it. I called apple and they overnighted a replacement. I received the replacement on Saturday (yes, overnight Saturday delivery). I was pleasantly surprised.

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