Corporate Eye

Bad news, transparency and the corporate website

It’s not often that my two lives intersect: work and domestic … but late last week they did exactly that.

free-fromAlerted by email from the Food Standards Agency that one of our major supermarket chains had recalled an own-brand product due to a labelling error resulting in a potential allergen risk, I wanted to find out more. The Food Standards Agency site was down (no, probably not because of massive public interest in this particular allergy alert) so I went to the supermarket site.

Nothing. Not in the press release section, nor in the customer-facing sections.

I know this is a very small issue from the supermarket point of view, but the impact on the individual shopper can be significant.

I also know that very many companies would deliberately not post bad news about their product on their own site.

However, many companies have a page in their media section that provides coverage of the company in the papers, which could be good news or bad. A few (very few) companies post information about recalls too. The one that comes to mind instantly is HP, who have a page about recalls and replacement programs.

Since the supermarkets are sending information to the Food Standards Agency to let them know about a product recall, you’d think it would be easy to send the same information to the web team – and an easy job for them to post the information online when it arrived. And it’s not as though the information is secret, either, as the supermarkets usually put this information on posters in the shop, and on the shelves, as well as online at the Food Standards Agency.

Think how you could spin it: Supermarket X keeping you informed about the safety of our products; Supermarket X keeping you healthy and safe; Supermarket X is honest enough to tell you when we make a mistake.

That’s not so very far from the recent announcement from SC Johnson of their new website informing consumers of the ingredients of their cleaning products. Very transparent …

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So true. I myself am surprised that they are not letting more people know. This definitely could be serious if someone was allergic and had already bought the project before hand.

Lucy, scary and very close to home. I have a nine-month-old and I just received a notice from Amazon about a toy recall – a toy I purchased through their site – from a third party. I was so amazed and really impressed their level of CRM could call that up and proactively alert me. The product maker wouldn’t have had my info, and I might not read my parenting magazines soon enough to whisk this toy out of my child’s mouth in time.

So yes, it’s possible to provide us this information, some companies could at the very least display on their site, the bare minimum in my opinion, or go even above and beyond like Amazon did.

Hi Blog Tips – luckily its not life-threatening for us, but it could be serious for someone.

I’m continually impressed by Amazon, Carrie – I hadn’t heard about their recall strategies, so thank you for sharing that, but I do think they do some very clever things with their site.

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