- a blog about food and value

Any chance of a freebie?

When good cake goes bad... who's to blame?

Smell this, he said, shoving a rancid dessert at my face.

No doubt about it: the cake was gone off. The best before date, however, told a different story: it should be good for at least another week. Euro signs flashed in his eyes as he imagined a haul of desserts and treats being delivered as compensation for his grievous pain and suffering.

He tried not to be too brazen. He contacted the manufacturer to complain about the dessert, simply stating the facts and not asking for anything. Here, I’ll point out that he admitted to chancing his arm by getting in touch with them. Consumer law places the blame firmly with the retailer – in this case, SuperValu. Even if the manufacturer is at fault, the contract is with the supermarket, and they are supposed to reimburse you and take up their complaint with the manufacturer.

But we all hear stories of people finding  bits of grit in their crisps or a tin of beans where the juice is entirely water, and the producer sending out a convoy of trucks replete with enough booty to last a lifetime – and we want some of that.

The producer took a while to contact him, said that the blame was with the supermarket, apologised, and offered a refund. Three weeks later, nothing. He got an email, clearly not intended for him, curtly asking: “has this guy been dealt with?”

Eventually, the long awaited compensation awaited. In an envelope. He wondered how that could possibly fit a load of cake,  but imagined that it was probably bursting with vouchers. He tore open the envelope, to find… a cheque for €3. No apology, no note, nothing.

He has mixed feelings. On the one hand, he says that he was chancing his arm, that the company met their obligations, and that they could simply have sent him back to the supermarket. On the other, he feels it’s a little bit mean and slightly insulting to get a cheque for €3 in the post, when the cake was so rotten and left his dinner guests without dessert.

What do you think?


  1. It was a cake, not vital medication. He didn’t get ebola from it.

    If SuperValu stored it incorrectly, it’s nothing to do with the manufacturer. He ought to have taken it back to the shop and got a refund – end of.

    Yesterday waiting to pay in Centra, I had to watch a 50-something professionally-dressed woman scream and (quite literally) dance in front of a poor shop assistant because her bottle of water was €2 instead of the marked €1.60. They explained it was a mistake on the shelf and she only exploded further, quoting several imaginary laws. The other customers nodded in agreement. The thing is: she was wrong, in law and in attitude.

    The litigious and over-reactive attitudes of people in this country are getting frustrating.

  2. I bought a pack of Crawfords Coconut Rings (don’t judge me, it had been a very long day) and most of them were ground to dust. Only ten remained dunkable. I took a picture of the packet, emailed it to the manufacturer and was sent a voucher for three free packets of biscuits from the Crawfords range. I was one happy customer.

  3. As a kid I once wrote off to a well known irish crisps company after getting a bad packet of crisps. I too expected a box of crisps to arrive at the door. I got a money order for the price of a packet of crisps – something like 56p at the time.

  4. Arbie, he does acknowledge he was chasing his arm; he’s kind of bemused by the whole thing 🙂 When I was little, I found a big rock hard oily clump in a packet of Perri Bag o’ Chips (like Banshee Bones) and complained. I got a BOX of crisps sent out as compensation. It was the greatest moment of my childhood.

  5. I complain about everything. Most of the time I get vouchers to cover pretty much the cost of the item that was faulty. Fabric conditioner went solid, I got enough for two, branston pickle nozzle was stupid design, got enough for one – to be honest I don’t expect a large box but just to cover the initial outlay. I remember as a kid getting a mouldy turkish delight in a milk tray – ugh! and got quite a few nice pieces of chocolate for it from Cadburys, even though the product code showed that the box was out of date and should not have been sold by the shop in the first place.

  6. Oh I absolutely agree that it’s important to complain when there’s a problem with the product – but he should have gone to SuperValu.

    By all means, he should chance his arm, but he shouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t get what he wants 😉

  7. I had a similar experience with some top notch yogurt which clearly had gone off. The company apologized and said they would look into it. That was the end of the story. I had chanced my arm too, but I got nothing. Considering that this is a pricey yogurt, I’ll not buy it again.

  8. I bought a brownie which had mould growing inside the packet. It was still in date, but at least a few weeks, and when I mentioned it to the shop, they said I’d probably be better off getting in touch with the supplier directly.

    Contacted the company and received a box of brownies, accompanied by a letter which explained that the issue had been caused by wrapping the brownies while still warm, and that they’d review their procedures, etc, etc.

    In a way, the free box of brownies kind of acted against the company, cos I overdosed on them and haven’t really bought one since. But I should mention that the free box of brownies didn’t impress me as much as them figuring out what the problem was (or at least pretending to).