Dear Linda, Liz, Scott, Biju, Mike and Richard of Burts Potato Chips Ltd,
I have been a loyal fan of your exceptionally tasty hand fried crisps since August 1873, which I realise is more than a century before you even started producing them. It was the year Prince Edward (an island not a person) joined the Canadian Confederation and the Heineken Brewery was founded in Amsterdam. It was also the year that marked the start of a worldwide economic recession now conveniently referred to as the Long Depression.
Anyway, many years have since passed and I still find myself utterly addicted to your delicious hand fried potato chips, with salt and black pepper being my current favourite. These particular crisps are so deliciously salty and despite my initial scepticism I really dig the added hint of pepper. However, I am afraid I have a complaint. It is my first complaint about your product in just short of a 140 years, which is not bad at all, come to think of it. To me, this only proves that altogether your tiny Devon-based factory has been doing a truly terrific job.
So what happened, you might ask. Well, yesterday night on my way home after the peanut butter workshop I bought a bag of your salt and black pepper flavoured potato chips. Upon returning home, I greedily tore it apart only to find an actual burnt finger inside. My first thought was that it might be a promotional gadget. Then again, no such thing was mentioned on the packaging and to be honest, looking at your wonderful website I am confident that your marketeers would have been capable of way better than that. My shocking conclusion was that this must once have been a real person’s finger. Worse yet, closer inspection revealed that this finger still had a ring on it.
I now have three questions for you. First of all, and most importantly, are you alright? Without any doubt this was a painful loss and my deepest sympathy goes out to the sorry victim. Second, would you like to have the ring back or do we get to keep it as a souvenir? Laura seems to enjoy wearing it, claiming that it makes her feel almighty powerful. Finally, I was wondering whether you would be willing to send me some sort of compensation to make up for this shocking revelation. I could think of nothing nicer than a voucher entitling me to a new bag of Burts hand fried potato chips. You may send it to the address mentioned above.
Thanks a bunch in advance for your kind consideration. I look forward to your reply.
P.S.: Who is Burt anyway, and why is he not listed among the fryers?
Reply from Burts Potato Chips Ltd.
Thank you for your letter which I read with much amusement (and horror at the ‘finger’).
I don’t suppose you kept the bag details so that we can find out who might have lost their finger and ring… Do you have any photos…..??
I apologise for any distress you may have sustained, although you mention that Laura enjoys wearing the ring and the power it gives her. It wasn’t by any chance an unusual form of a proposal of marriage? I have heard of rings being put in a glass of champagne or a chocolate dessert… but never a packet of Chips before! Congratulations if it means that she accepted your proposal.
Now the technical stuff….
We keep detailed records of each batch we produce, and also of any complaints which we receive so that we can look into the incident and ascertain what might have gone wrong. We have a great experience in frying chips, but we appreciate that mistakes do occur from time to time.
Do you still have any details of the date produced etc?? I don’t need the actual bag back, but I would like to check and investigate that batch of crisps from the details on your bag(s). And to see if there had been any problems at the time and that somehow your bag slipped through the QC checks and was sent out when it should not have been.
Now regarding the ‘burnt finger’ you found in your pack. This is probably a potato mass caused by several pieces of sliced potatoes which have got mashed around parts of the mechanisms of the fryer. It is then possible for that piece of potato to stay in the fryer for several batches before breaking free. It then gets baked very, very hard. This then travels through the sorting process – the optical sorter and a manual sorter which should have removed the piece of hard potato. However it seems to have escaped both methods of detection on this occasion which I can only apologise for. We are currently trying to modify our process so that these hard lumps cannot occur. I can reassure you that it is definitely not a burnt finger and that it is most definitely potato and not anything more sinister.
Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. I can assure you that no one has lost a finger here in the factory and if a ring had been lost it would have been rejected by our metal detector…
I was surprised and confused to hear about the ring for a number of reasons which I will list below:
1. If it was in the soil and a potato had grown around it, so that it got carried into the line, there is no possible way it could have passed through the slicer with no damage, although it is extremely unlikely it would have fitted through. Also, if it had gone into the fryer it would have fallen to the bottom – the crisps float and therefore it could not have been mixed up with the crisps.
2. If it was loose in the soil it would have sunk at the potato washing process and could not have entered the line in the first place.
3. If by chance our hygiene policies had failed and it had fallen out of someone’s pocket and in amongst the crisps between the fryer and the packing machine, it would have then been detected by the highly sensitive in-line metal detector which is placed millimetres away from the crisps being enclosed in their bag. All our products have to go through the metal detector. It is not possible for any crisps to get into a pack and not go through the metal detector.
4. Obviously it would not have been possible for the ring to be inserted after this point because the bag is sealed and the seal would have had to be broken for it to get into the bag – and I assume it wasn’t. Unless you found it in an opened bag…
So given all these factors, as I’m sure you can appreciate, it is very difficult for me to determine how the ring can have got into a pack.
You also asked who Burt is.
Richard Burt was the founder of this business many years ago and he sold out to our previous MDs who have since sold onto another company, so sadly he no longer fries our chips, but his name lives on every bag of chips we produce. However our factory and methods are still the same and we still identify which fields our potatoes have been grown in and also the fryer who fried each bag.
Thank you for your compliment!! It is lovely to get some positive feedback from people who are as enthusiastic about Burts as we are ourselves! It’s very encouraging when people write and tell us how much they like our products. I have passed your message on to the rest of the team, thank you.
We very much appreciate the time you have taken to contact us and hope you continue to enjoy Burts Chips.
Burts Potato Chips
T: 08450 852220 F: 08450 854010 E: (censored)
The Klamp House, Belliver Way, Roborough, Devon, PL6 7BP
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