When Toronto resident Vanessa Gloux posted a mildly negative review about the company that sold her a product for her dog, she was expecting a refund, not an insult, in response. Gloux quickly realized that the owner of Pooch Patch, known as only "Adam", was attempting to publicly shame her.
“They called me ‘Fatty McFat-Fat,'” Vanessa Gloux recounted an email she received in mid-February from Pooch Patch.
The company sells a “real grass, vet-recommended eco-friendly fix for your pooches natural needs.” Basically, a pee/poop pad that's made of real grass. Designed for dog owners who live in high-rise apartments, so that their pet doesn't have to be taken outside to relieve themselves.
Gloux told Global News that she decided to cancel her order the day after she purchased the Pooch Patch online. She notified the company via email, requesting to cancel the order, as she had not yet received an order confirmation.
Despite the fact that the product had not yet been shipped, Pooch Patch refused to cancel the order. Once she informed the company that she was unsatisfied with their response, she posted a negative review on Google and Facebook describing her frustrating experience.
Suddenly, Pooch Patch's bite became a lot worse than its bark. A series of inappropriate messages were sent to Gloux from Pooch Patch's owner. “He looked at my photos online and said I was chubby,” Gloux told Global News. In one email, the company representative wrote: “Looking a little chubs in that profile photo.”
In response to the messages, Gloux informed the company she had reported its offensive customer service conduct to a consumer agency. The company then wrote: “Ooh, so scared, Chubby-Wubby, I reported you to Jenny Craig”.
Gloux's social network banned together in posting negative comments about Pooch Patch's responses on social media. As a result, Gloux was sent an official-looking legal document, with the title "Notice to Cease and Desist" printed across the header.
"Under the laws in the province of Ontario, it is unlawful for an individual to make deliberate statements that intend to harm a corporation’s reputation," the letter reads. The notice also threatens to legally pursue Gloux for monetary damages and "all available legal remedies", and was signed by Alyssa Steiner, an associate lawyer for Pootch Patch, Inc. Strangely enough, there is no licensed lawyer or paralegal with the name Alyssa Steiner listed with the Law Society of Ontario.
When Pooch Patch was initially contacted by Global News for comment, the company responded with "Hahahahahhaah hahahahahahah Ahh I’m dying. This is gold. Pure gold," in an email.
After declining multiple emails requesting interviews, Pooch Patch blamed its poor customer service on an outsourced agency in India: "Multiple people work customer service under the signature of the owner and we are dealing with this internally," read one reply, "Unfortunately, they still have access to our account and we are attempting to put a stop to this."
ok the pooch patch thing is terrible and you should never treat your customers that way, but the complete inappropriateness of the comments and how completely immature they are make me laugh SO HARD— Sherry Li 🤪 (@sherrys_world) February 20, 2019
According to Patrick McCaully, principal of Pointman News Creation, a Toronto-based company involved in reputation management, the company is in hot water.
"They may have irreparably damaged their reputation by not immediately taking ownership of this and apologizing publicly, quickly and directly while they conducted an internal investigation" he explained. His company specializes in developing social media brand awareness and reputation for international companies.
“Fat-shaming and mocking a customer is something that should be personally horrifying to the president and everyone else involved. Whether it came from India or not, any response with the president’s name on it is the president’s responsibility and problem to solve,” McCaully said.
A woman who claimed to be a Pooch Patch manager said in an email, "quite frankly this is out of control," referring to the response by customers, "The owner of this company is completely hands off and runs a design business full time."