Thursday, February 19, 2015

McDonald's Japan's Unbelievable Customer Service

The high quality of Japanese customer service is well known around the world and a point of pride within Japan as well. I admit that after living here for nearly eight years, excellent customer service is something I have come to take for granted.

But McDonald's customer service has just blown my mind.

The background:
McDonald's currently has a limited time Hawaii-themed menu. I've been interested in trying out the "Hawaiian BBQ Pork Burger" since I first read about it on RocketNews24. A friend of mine tried it out last week and he recommended it, so I decided to try it for myself while I was at the local Towada Aeon Shopping Center last night.
Hawaiian BBQ Pork Burger McDonald's Japan ハワイアンバーベキューポークバーガーマクドナルド
Hawaiian BBQ Pork Burger McDonald's Japan ハワイアンバーベキューポークバーガーマクドナルド
That pulled pork on the wrapper looks delicious, right? Well, I opened up the wrapper and was disappointed with how small and plain the burger was.
Hawaiian BBQ Pork Burger McDonald's Japan ハワイアンバーベキューポークバーガーマクドナルド
 Hawaiian BBQ Pork Burger McDonald's Japan ハワイアンバーベキューポークバーガーマクドナルド
No pulled pork in sight! I thought that was kind of odd, but I figured the picture was just supposed to be an image of what the patty was supposed to taste like. That was not the case, though, as it tasted like a plain old pork burger with some BBQ sauce. I was quite disappointed (and doubting the tastes of the friend who had recommended it to me).

I had some ice cream at Baskin Robbins to salve my disappointment before going to do my grocery shopping. But as I walked past the McDonald's on the way to the Aeon (grocery and everything store--the Japanese equivalent of Wal-Mart), I had a look at the big poster of the Hawaiian BBQ Pork Burger and hey! there was the pulled pork! (It had been a couple of weeks since I first read the article, so I had forgotten what it was supposed to look like.)
Hawaiian BBQ Pork Burger McDonald's Japan ハワイアンバーベキューポークバーガーマクドナルド
Well! At this point I started to think that I had gotten ripped off. After grocery shopping, I went home and checked out the McDonald's Japan website and read the description of the burger, and sure enough, it mentioned "horo horo pork" (ほろほろポーク) as well as the pork patty! I hadn't gotten a Hawaiian BBQ Pork Burger at all--just a pork burger with BBQ sauce!

After a bit of searching, I managed to find a form to get in touch with McDonald's regarding any comments, questions, etc. I wrote a very polite but blunt message (in Japanese, of course) along the lines of:
 I ordered a Hawaiian BBQ Pork Burger Set for the first time today and was very disappointed because even though the picture of  the burger showed delicious-looking pulled pork, all I got was a pork patty. I should have said something to the staff at the time, but I thought that was just the way it was supposed to be. It wasn't until I got home and checked the McDonald's webpage that I realized that there was supposed to be pulled pork on the burger. Since I didn't actually get the Hawaiian BBQ Pork Burger that I ordered, would it be possible to get a refund or something? (If necessary, I have photos of the burger that clearly show there was nothing but a patty.)

I filled in the date, time, and location of the McDonald's I had been at, as well as my home address, email address, and home phone number and submitted the form.

From my limited experience with making complaints to stores (I once found a bug baked into the corner of a Chinese bun I had already bitten into, and all I did was pull out the part around the bug and finished eating the bun), I figured I would get an email back saying that they would send me a voucher for a free burger or meal or something.

The customer service:
Instead, when I checked my email this morning, I had a message from McDonald's saying that someone from the Towada Aeon McDonald's would be calling the number I had put down in the form. Unfortunately that was my home number, so I missed the first call, but thankfully I have an answering machine so I got the message that the store manager would call me back.

I was expecting that he might ask me to come into the store and bring the receipt for the meal and the picture of the offending burger so that he could process a refund for me. Oh boy, was I wrong.

Around 8:30pm, I got the call. The manager was very apologetic and asked if I would allow him to come to my house to personally deliver the refund. All this and no question whatsoever about proving that the burger had indeed been made missing the pulled pork, or that I had truly purchased a set (and not just the burger).

But here's the real kicker: since I had been disappointed with my first Hawaiian BBQ Pork Burger experience, he wanted to make it up to me by also delivering me a freshly and properly made Hawaiian BBQ Pork Burger Set together with the refund.


Being completely surprised and having no experience with this kind of conversation in Japanese, I couldn't figure out a polite way to refuse the offer. Ironically, I ended up feeling extremely apologetic about the fact that he was being so apologetic about the whole thing.

So yeah. This Sunday afternoon, I will get a refund and a freshly made Hawaiian BBQ Pork Burger Set hand delivered to me by the manager of the McDonald's. Oh, and even though we confirmed the date and time for him to come, he will also call me before coming over on the day of, just in case my plans change or something.

Never again will I think that people are exaggerating about how over the top Japanese customer service can be.


Looks like I won't be giving up the (bad) habit of always wanting to try out McDonald's new special menu item anytime soon. I'm still not a fan of the company overall, but I do have respect for McDonald's Japan now.