‘Things’ pet food manufacturers do or don’t do seem to intentionally cause panic in pet owners. Silent pet food recalls, no answers to customer email questions or answers that are evasive, to downright lies to customers. What are they thinking? The following are suggestions to pet food companies who wish to cause more pet food panic and mayhem.
1. When confronted with a difficult question from a pet owner about your pet food, shift the focus on the misgivings of another pet food company.
One of the common tricks pet food companies are doing these days is trying to shift the focus of a problem with their pet food to another pet food company. As example, one pet food company, when confronted with using ethoxyquin preserved fish meal, replied to a pet owner ‘there is only a tiny bit of naturally preserved fishmeal available – not enough for all the companies who are claiming to use it’. This response shows a pet food company not willing to take responsibility for their own use of ethoxyquin preserved fish meal (ethoxyquin is a chemical preservative scientifically linked to serious illness including cancer – pet food ingredient suppliers that wish to use a natural preservative do have to spend more money and time to obtain permits for the natural alternative…however, the option is available to ALL pet food ingredient suppliers). Trying to shift the focus (that they are using a risk ingredient) to the line of thinking that other companies are lying about their use of naturally preserved fish meals is childish and irresponsible; guaranteed to cause bad feelings from customers.
2. When asked a question you don’t want to answer, give an answer to another question; pretend you didn’t read the email correctly; pretend you misunderstood the question.
Another trick commonly used by pet food companies and the FDA (Congress too!); pretend you didn’t understand the question. Recently a pet owner wrote their pet food company asking if they would participate in the Pet Food Recall First Alert program. The response from the pet food company was nothing short of amazing (and nothing short of stupid). The response was a ‘canned’ response regarding the 2007 pet food recall! Blah, blah, blah, our food are safe, not involved in the recall, don’t worry.
No kidding – this really happened. This company completely ignored the question; pretended it was 3 years ago hoping the pet owner would just give up and stop asking. Hint to pet food companies…this is a really dumb thing to do. Do you really think pet owners are that stupid? We’re not. But it is a great way to lose a customer.
3. When confronted with numerous reports of sick or dying pets from your pet food, pretend everything is normal. Don’t admit there is a problem to anyone!
This trick is getting really old; and it is guaranteed to cause panic and mayhem among pet owners. A couple of pet food companies within the last six months or so became experts in this avoidance technique. One company adamantly denied there was a problem for months, they even had the FDA on their side stating there was no investigation, blah, blah…then suddenly, an official recall. Another pet food company was getting numerous reports of sick and dying pets from numerous pet owners yet they told each pet owner ‘Nope, we have no other reports of sick pets – no problems here.’ A few weeks later, an official recall.
Who do they think they are kidding? The reality of it is they are only kidding themselves. We (pet owners) are ‘on’ to their games and when a company tries this trick they are certain to lose the trust of pet owners.
4. When confronted with a difficult question about your pet food, lie.
This one happens so often, by so many companies, it’s difficult to keep the lies straight. One of the biggest lies I hear is the response to my question ‘Are your meat ingredients human grade or pet grade quality?’ I’m amazed at the flat out lies. Numerous pet food companies, who use by-products in their pet foods, have told me directly ‘We only use human grade quality meats’. By AAFCO definition (which they certainly should understand), by-products are NOT considered human grade quality. Any pet food company that directly lies to a customer about grade or quality of ingredients, is giving you a warning…they are going to lie about other things too. Do they not understand that pet owners are getting more educated by the minute? Those old tricks of lying through your teeth about quality when ‘we’ know ingredient definitions – is giving us an close up look at your integrity. Bye, bye; you just lost a customer.
5. When confronted with a question that might make your pet food company look bad, simply ignore it.
This trick is happening more and more often these days (more and more pet owners are learning to ask the tough questions about their pets’ food). Another version of this avoidance trick is to respond to the first email with a ‘thank you for your question, we’ll get back to you soon with an answer’ response – and then they never ‘get back to you’. Many pet food companies, when confronted with the ethoxyquin preserved fish meal question choose simply to ignore the emails. And many more promised to answer (several companies sent me two or three of these ‘we are working to find an answer to your question and will respond soon’ replies) but never did answer my questions. They just gave me the run around hoping I’d give up.
The thing is…(listen up pet food)…pet owners ‘do’ give up…they give up on trusting Your Pet Food when this happens. So, if you really want to lose a customer, refuse to answer questions.
6. When pet owners on the Internet are talking bad about your company, hire Internet shills pretending to be faithful customers.
This trick is getting bigger and bigger; it’s almost getting difficult to tell who the shills are anymore. There are Twitter shills, Facebook shills, MySpace shills and a ton of shill blogs all pretending to be faithful customers bragging on the health of their pets. Please know…many (probably all) of these are paid employees of the pet food company. They are performing a job; they are paid to brag on the benefits of a pet food with the purpose of gaining trust. You see, pet food companies have learned that most pet owners don’t trust them anymore (no wonder), but they know that pet owners tend to trust other pet owners. It’s stupid (we can figure this out pretty quickly) and it ends up causing pet owners to doubt Pet Food even more. Good move to lose customers.
Don’t accept anything less than 100% from your pet food company. There are several Pet Food Companies out there that go above and beyond to be honest and straight forward with their customers or any potential customer. Ask your pet food company the tough questions…if they ignore your email, lie to you, point blame on another pet food company, or use any other trick to avoid answering your question…find another pet food. AND…make sure and send them an email or call them and tell them they just lost you as a customer and tell them why. Maybe, just maybe some will learn from their mistakes in the future.
I have a policy of never endorsing any pet food company…as the liars and avoiders of honesty continue to rear their ugly heads I might have to rethink this in the future. But for now, please do know I believe there are numerous pet food companies out there who will answer all the tough questions directly and timely. I believe they will be honest with recalls or pet food product pulls. I believe they have the best interest of our pets in mind versus the best interest of their stock holders. They ARE out there.
To pet food companies that subscribe to this website and that are reading this article…be honest with us. Be timely with your honesty too. We, your customers (or former customers) deserves that; our pets deserve that too.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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