Did PETCO kill the squirrel?

Bird feederHere is  our birdfeeder, with no birds, not even the pesky squirrel who does contortions to break into the feeder. You see we bought a new bag of   the PETCO Black Oil Sunflower Seed  and the animals disappeared. No fighting over the perch, no annoying squirrel hogging the feeder.

Alarmed, my husband cleaned the feeder and thoroughly checked the yard for any weird growing berries or other vegetation that could be deterring the animals. But nothing. Pretty sure that the birdseed was contaminated  he emailed  PETCO Customer Relations, and they wrote back:

Unfortunately, there has been no information provided to us regarding any issue with the PETCO Black Oil Sunflower Seed. You may want to check if there’s something different with the bag that you recently purchased compared to those you have purchased before…You may also want to contact the manufacturer, Kaytee, regarding your inquiry.

Why would PETCO refer us to  the manufacturer when it was a PETCO branded product?  Why wouldn’t they ask for more details about our purchase so they could track possible contaminated shipments in our geographic area? Why wouldn’t PETCO apologize and tell us to return it to the retailer for another product?  If they looked at my husband’s purchasing history — he has one of those PETCO PALS loyalty cards — they’d see just how steady and profitable a customer he has been over the past 10 years.

The lack of PETCO interest so turned off my husband that he switched to a competitor, PetSmart, and tells all of his animal-loving friends about this story. Talk about word of mouth marketing.

The marketing lesson is this:  customer service is more important and valuable than any advertising.  It creates positive or in this case, negative, word of mouth.  Yet for many companies customer service is not part of marketing.

Advertising, promotion and CRM loyalty programs report to marketing, but not customer service?  In today’s social media world where the good and bad travel fast, that’s just for the birds.

Our bird friends are returning after a month away from the feeder.   But no squirrel. We think he may have died from the tainted birdseed.