It is becoming increasingly difficult in dealing with large corporations or organizations to speak to live people or more so, live people who will actually listen and help.

I bought a case of Alexander Keith’s India Pale Ale a while back. I left it somewhere in the basement and forgot about it.  About a year later I came across it again.  I wondered if it was still drinkable. I called some number in Halifax (i.e. Nova Scotia’s legendary beer, since 1820) expecting to speak to a descendant of Alexander Keith himself, maybe some guy called Fergus.  I hit a customer relations gentleman called Jeremy. At least it sounded like Jeremy.  And he did not have a Scottish accent.

After giving him the bottle codes, he suggested that though drinkable, I would be wise not to test my body’s immune system with the product.  He took my contact info.

Two weeks later I received an email from a brewery in St Louis, Missouri.  The email contained a survey, the RE line reading, “Is my beer still good?”.  I was shocked.  It seems Alexander Keith’s is actually a brand of this mega brewery. I guess there is no Fergus Keith at all. If there ever was, he or his family sold out.  Shame.  I felt disenchanted.

The survey read something like, “We are never satisfied with our results. We want to make sure you have a positive experience with us.”

I thought about it and responded, posting an overall comment in the allowable 255 characters, saying, “A positive experience would be for you guys to send me a certificate for a free case of Keith’s.”  Why not?  I knew they did not owe me anything but what was it for a gargantuan brewery to give me a 12 pack and put a smile on my face?

I did not hear from them.  This bothered me.  A couple of weeks later I called Halifax again, complaining that I never got a response to my survey diligent and thoughtful comments, and asking about some of that positive experience.

One Trevor said he understood exactly how I felt.  He told me that the company took customers’ complaints very seriously and that he would pass my comments on.

Two weeks later I received another email from St. Louis, the RE line reading, “I never got a response to my survey comments.” The survey again wanted to know how they could make my experience better as they were “never satisfied unless I was.”

I called Halifax again and this time, I unloaded my frustrations on a Cameron.  I was optimistic as to me his name sounded appropriate, even though it was not Fergus.

He listened carefully and agreed with my sentiments, noting that he was beside himself.  He told me I could call him Cam.  That made me feel a bit better.  Cam risked all, by giving me an 800 number directly to the St. Louis team associates who should be able to assist me.

With much anticipation, I called the 800 number.  A voice told me my call was important to them and that they were never satisfied unless I had a positive experience.  A Lee- Ann, with a quaint southern drawl, came on the line.  She asked if she could call me Marcel.  I said sure, following which she went on to call me,” Y’all”.

Lee-Ann asked how she could enhance my experience with her brewery.  I told her given that I took my time to respond to the survey, it would be nice gesture for them to offer me a replacement for my aborted case of beer.  I also asked if there was really ever an Alexander Keith in Halifax. She asked, “Where is Halifax?”  We were on a roll.

She told me very sympathetically, “I am sorry for your less than excellent experience. We are definitely not satisfied. I shall pass this on.  Without doubt I could sense her empathy.

This time for sure I expected a certificate for a nice case of beer. Then again, the Toronto Maple Leafs expected to win a playoff series.

Shortly thereafter, I received another email from the “we are not satisfied unless you are “ team.  The RE line read, “Customer queries if there was really ever an Alexander Keith in Halifax?”

I give up.  I have gone back to drinking Molson Canadian. I just hope that at least this brand is still truly Canadian and not owned by say, Miller.  Or even worse I hope it is not owned by a parent company which is not even a brewery, like say Goodyear.  I don’t ever want to have to call them with a complaint and have to listen to a voice message that says something like, “Press 7 for information about the blimp.”

At least I have some solace knowing that that American brewery that owns Alexander Keith’s is not satisfied until I am, and that it shares my dissatisfaction.