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When a company (Voilá) keeps screwing up


Now it's time to really talk about this because fumble after fumble has been the name of the game for Voilá by Sobeys. This story is the basis of my earlier post: It's not polite when you get it wrong.

So, I moved about 7 months ago, back into the city, and I figured using the Voilá by Sobeys grocery delivery service would be a really good idea. It kept me from needing to go to the grocery store, heavier goods were brought to my door, and I could get an annual delivery subscription. From a general service perspective, such as food quality, I was happy enough. Where I wasn't happy was being constantly misgendered.

Basically, on each delivery, the driver would call and I would answer with, "Hi! Joanne speaking." That would inevitably result in a hearty, "hello Sir!" Now, I get it, not everyone may realize that Joanne isn't a name normally associated with men, but all of them, every single driver? Inevitably I would correct them with a "please don't call me sir" request. 

This situation went on for months before I finally reached out to Sobeys on social media and asked them to stop with the gendered greetings. As I said before, these greetings are distinctly not polite when you get them wrong and getting them wrong isn't that hard. There are plenty of cis people with voices that may not align with how they prefer and being misgendered affects them just as much. In any event, the Sobeys social media team promised to pass it along which, as you might imagine, was unlikely to have gone anywhere meaningful.

After a bit more of this, I finally reached out to customer care at Voilá and literally begged them to stop using gendered terms like Sir or Ma'am. They called me and the CSR assured me that they would note my account to inform drivers to use feminine forms of address. Let me start with saying that this is actually a pretty shit response in a lot of ways, not the least of which is that it actually fails to address the real problem here. Nevertheless, I had some hope that the next delivery I would get would not have the problem. Nope.

Sure enough, the very next delivery I answer the call with "Hi! Joanne speaking" and got the "Hello Sir!" response. I hung up. They called back, I tried again, I got the same response. I have to be honest, I lost it at that point. Maybe you don't care, maybe you think I am a little unreasonable here, but approximately once a week, Sobeys would invalidate me and I simply couldn't take it anymore. I didn't matter that it may have been unintentional, but after many months? I was at the end of my tether. I asked and I begged and they couldn't fix this, the driver clearly, clearly, did not read the instructions on the delivery. 

So, after that, I emailed them and requested that they close my account, issue a pro-rated refund, and then delete my data. They emailed back to say that they have issued a refund and that my account was "disabled" (whatever that means) and they were sorry to see me go. You'll note that they didn't actually close it, nor did they delete my data as I requested. That factors in the subsequent events, but I want to call out the issue here: a customer who is clearly distressed is basically discarded. That says something. Where I work, an email like I sent would have quickly travelled up the chain, you can be absolutely certain that VP+ leadership would have been engaged. A lesson for Sobeys here on how not to do customer "care" in their business.

So, after my account was "disabled" (whatever that means), I started getting marketing emails. After a couple of these, figuring they have 10 days under Canadian anti-spam legislation (CASL), I forwarded one to their customer care and asked to understand why I was still getting these after requesting my account to be closed. The agent responded to let me know that they have taken my email off the list and I should not receive any more going forward. 

About that... I got 2 more before I responded again and again I begged them. I begged them to stop because inevitably they would arrive on a day where I was feeling gender euphoria only to remind me of their treatment and bring me down. So I begged and I heard nothing. Yesterday, I got another of these, after a wonderful evening of gin & tonics and girl talk with a couple of friends after work. I was feeling great and here comes Voilá by Sobeys to remind me and knock the wind out.

I again emailed, but this time I cc'd the CASL spam reporting email. 21 days after I was assured my account was "disabled" (whatever that means), I was still getting marketing communications. That is unacceptable. The responded to tell me that they sent my request to the marketing team. So what did they do before? File 13?

I really, really, don't want to have a hate on for Sobeys, but I just can't with them. They treated me poorly, they handled this even worse, and at no time did anyone senior there reach out. This is a huge swing and a miss by them organizationally and people need to know. In a couple of months, Pride will be here, and I am sure Sobeys will deck their social media, and maybe even some stores, with rainbows in an attempt to pinkwash us and I'll have none of that. If you cannot even muster basic respect for trans customers, you don't get to pretend to celebrate us.

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