Backdoor Survival Interviews Emergency Essentials

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As some of you may recall, late last year I had a number of customer service issues with personal orders I placed with Emergency Essentials.  After many attempts to resolve these issues, I felt I could no longer endorse them even though I felt they had a robust product line filled with terrific products at a good price point.

I will not bore you with the details other than to say that after a number of heartfelt conversations with their management team, I came away feeling that Emergency Essentials was committed to improving their customer service infrastructure so that my experience would not happen again, to me or to anyone else.

This is not something that I made a big deal about although more that a few of you noticed their ads started to appear again on the site. Then, in a recent giveaway, the question was posed:

“I see Emergency Essentials is back as one of your ads. I assume they addressed your concerns/issues?”

The answer, in a word, is yes.

I was so impressed with the actions taken to improve customer service (and yes, I “tested” them to ensure they worked), that I asked Sally  Clarke, their Director of Operations, to speak openly about some of these changes.

Interview with Emergency Essentials | Backdoor Survival

An Interview with Emergency Essentials

Thank you, Sally, for agreeing to speak with me by phone and for answering some questions for the readers of Backdoor Survival.  I recognize that Emergency Essentials is undergoing some changes relative to its online and customer service policies and that you are the senior manager that will be driving many of these changes.

Can you tell us little about who you are and what you do in your position as Director of Operations?

My background is in operations with a focus on process management.  As Director of Operations, we are looking at processes in our warehouse, customer service, purchasing and HR functions to stream line what we are doing and aligning all of our processes with a central focus…and that is to serve the customer which means getting them their order quickly and accurately.

As you know, I personally hit some rough spots in terms of customer service late in 2015. This included phone calls and emails that were ignored, incorrect fulfillment of orders, and the failure to recognize gift cards used for online payments (resulting in unauthorized credit card charges).  What steps has Emergency Essentials taken to mitigate these problems going forward?

We have invested in a new system that is designed to help us manage these tasks so we can achieve the improvements in our supply chain that will have a direct result on our focus to serve the customer better.

We are still implementing this system now and we very much appreciate your patience and feedback as we move forward in making these much needed changes.

What is the best way for a customer to contact Emergency Essentials with an order related question?

Email or calling in are the best ways to ask your order related questions.  We are working on getting more emails with order status information pushed to our customers as well to help give them visibility to what is going on with their orders.

Related to that, how long should it take to get a response or resolution to order-related issues?

Ideally, we’d like our customers to not have to wait more than 30 mins to get a resolution on an order.  This is a goal we are continuing to work towards.

Tell us about growth plans for the company.  What new products can we expect to see launched in the coming year?

I’ll defer to our awesome marketing team on the growth plans and launches for new products this year.  My main focus right now is firming up our foundation so that whatever we do, we have the processes in place to serve our customers better.

Gaye’s note:  for competitive reasons, the Marketing Manager would not elaborate on future plans. On the other hand, I have watched the product line grow these past few months and have seen the number of sale items escalate.  It is definitely worth it to wait for a sale on high-ticket items.

And finally, as you know, Backdoor Survival readers come to this website because they want to learn self-sufficiency so they can take care of themselves and their families in the event of a disaster or what I like to call, a disruptive event.  Do you personally prepare and if so, what are you personally preparing for?

That’s a great question and I’d glad you asked.  I do personally prepare by stocking up on food storage (especially our pouched food) and on anything that will allow me to still use my electronic devices so I can still communicate and get information in the event of a disaster.  I’m nuts about solar and all the devices that have been created to harness the sun to do these things.

Thanks for the questions Gaye!  I look forward to hearing from you again soon.

The Timing Is Right for a Huge Sale

Without being too self-serving, I share this with you today so that I can also make you aware of the the Emergency Essentials Annual Warehouse Sale from May 20-23rd.  This is one of their biggest sales of the year with discounts up to 88%.

For example, a box of 20 N95 masks is only $5.00 and those clear globes for those 115 hour candles that I love so much are just $1.49.  That said, the real bargains are in freeze-dried fruits such as raspberries ($14.99), as well as blueberries and peaches.  I could go on but you get the drift.

Whether it is gear or food, this is a sale you will want to pay attention to.

Emergency Essentials Annual Warehouse Sales Event
The Final Word

So there you have it.  In March, I started placing regular orders, especially for my favorite Mountain House products and also for some new gear.  My latest purchase is this Goal Zero rechargeable lantern.  It can be charged by solar, USB, or by a hand crank.  What’s not to love about it?

Goal Zero Lantern

Whether you choose to make a purchase from Emergency Essentials or not, please know that I do try to watch your back by placing regular orders myself.  This is the only way I can assess not only the quality of their products, but intangibles such as fulfillment and customer service.

From what I can tell, Emergency Essentials is sincerely apologetic for their service problems late last year and have taken steps and applied resources to solving the problem.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
Gaye

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Bargain Bin:  Let us make today all about water!

Ultimate 55 Gallon Water Barrel Combo:  As of this writing, $109.95 which is a great deal. Everyone should have at least one.  Remember, if storing in your garage or on pavers, place the filled barrel on a wooden platform and not directly on the concrete.

No Rinse Cleansing & Deodorizing Bathing Wipes:  One wipe is more than enough for a complete “bath”.  These are a good backup when traditional showers are not available such as the week or weeks following a disaster.  Also good for the sick room as well as camping, boating, hiking and such.  Here is my review.

Fluidmaster 400CR Toilet Fill Valve and Flapper Repair Kit:  Speaking of water, this is one of those items you don’t think of stockpiling but believe me, we now have a couple in reserve for emergency purposes.  Why fuss with adjusting a tank valve when you can replace the whole thing for less than $12 and 10 minutes of your time?

AquaPod:   Have you considered storing water in your bathtub?  The AquaPod is a bladder that you can use in your bathtub to store water if you know that a storm, flood, or hurricane is brewing. (I call these “disruptive events”.)

LifeStraw Personal Water FilterThe Amazon Top Ten Most Wanted Survival and Outdoor Items Backdoor Survival:  The LifeStraw is considered the most advanced, compact, ultra light personal water filter available. It contains no chemicals or iodinated resin, no batteries and no moving parts to break or wear out. It weighs only 2oz.  making it perfect for the prepper. For more information, see my LifeStraw review.

Potable Aqua Water Treatment Tablets: Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets make questionable water bacteriologically suitable to drink. Easy to use and the water is ready to drink in 30 minutes. One 50 tablet bottle treats 25 quarts of water.

NALGENE BPA-Free Water Bottle:  These $8 water bottles have served me well.  I fill them up with water from my Royal Berkey and keep one bedside, one at my desk and another in the bathroom.  Keep in mind that price-wise, some colors will be more expensive so if color does not matter, go with the cheapest (currently the green version).

DryTec Calcium Hypochlorite, 1-Pound:  This is 68% Calcium Hypochlorite.  As of this writing, the price is under $10 with free shipping.  I purchased Ultima Pool ShockThe Sunday Survival Buzz #128 Backdoor Survival which is 73% Calcium Hypochlorite.  For more information, read How to Use Pool Shock to Purify Water.

Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System:  Fans of the Sawyer water filtration systems are legend.

Black Berkey Primer Gizmo – Less than $20:  Okay, that is my name for it.  This device makes back-flushing a Black Berkey Filter a cinch. Following a disaster, when you are depending on your filters for clean water, you may not have running water.  If you have a Berkey, you are going to want one of these inexpensive devices.  For more information, see The Survival Buzz #160: Maintaining Black Berkey Filters.

The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide:  You can survive up to three weeks without food, but only three days without water. When catastrophe strikes, having enough water can spell the difference between life and death. This book offers a step-by-step plan with straightforward information you can easily follow.  Written by my friend Daisy Luther, I recommended the book for everyone’s survival library!

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Shop Emergency Essentials Sales for Fantastic Deals!

For over 25 years Emergency Essentials has been providing the highest quality preparedness products at great prices.  Plus, each month they feature sales that quite honestly are fantastic.  This month note the great sale prices two of my favorites, the Mobile Washer (Hand Operated Washing Machine) now only $14.95 and the Tote-able Toilet Seat and Lid, now only $11.79.

Preptember

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Which are the best oils for your survival kit?  This article describes my top picks.

9 Best Essential Oils for Your Survival Kit | Backdoor Survival

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Comments

Backdoor Survival Interviews Emergency Essentials — 24 Comments

  1. I really do appreciate good, solid, deferring customer service. I’d almost given up on Emergency Essentials (after learning about them here)….but they are taking care of a problem I had w/ a product. Glad to hear they’re improving their customer service department. In today’s economy, that’s paramount. Also, I hit their sale early this morning, but may have to go back and peruse the pages again after you mentioned a couple items I missed! =). Thanks for your steadfastness, integrity and for always sharing the good things and the bad.

  2. I LOVE individual ingredients rather than fully prepared meals. Emergency Essentials has a great selection and decent enough prices- especially when on sale. I had issues with mangled cans coming in with no protection in the box. Shipping from Utah to South Carolina, they are bound to get mangled if not cushioned. I complained, almost gave up, but then, my most recent order came in with brown paper and the shipment was perfect. I want to be a loyal customer and they have things I need. Hopefully, we will do business for a very long time. Thanks for the review/interview!

  3. I too had wondered about you reading Emergency Essentials to the website. I am glad all the issues you had have been resolved. I have had no problems as yet so have continued to order from them. I absolutely love the freeze dried cinnamon apple slices. They are a great snack straight from the can and perfect for the hikers, campers, and backpackers we see so often here. I have also read with interest some of the blog entries on the E E site. There is a lot of good information there that preppers can use. We live in a rural area and the closest place to get much of the freeze dried or other foods is several miles away so online ordering through EE and other sites like it is a real time and money saver for us. Thanks again for keeping us all up to date and for being careful to tell us not only the bad but the good things of the many websites and companies out there.

  4. I have purchased a few items from Emergency Essentials, and I’ve never had any issues. I’m thankful Gaye addressed the issues she had, and thankful Emergency Essentials restructured the way they take care of their customers issues. Being a prepper, when you’re looking for long term food storage items you have to have some trust in the company that produces what you’re looking for & getting it to you without issues. The last thing I’d want is to have to stop purchasing great products due to lack of service. I love the items I’ve purchased from EE, and will continue to purchase from them. I want to thank Gaye so much for the interview and being vigilant enough to get the issues corrected. A very deep thanks to you Gaye, no one wants to miss out on the fabulous products EE has.

  5. I appreciate you keeping us posted on changes with Emergency Essentials customer service. I can only speak from my own experience and I firmly believe that the first impression makes or breaks a customer / business relationship. In my case, that experience was not only bad – they pretty much nuked any chance of repeat business from me. I’m not a professional complainer. I’m an average working woman who is trying to prepare my family for emergencies and I shop around for the best deal on a particular product I am interested in purchasing. I made them the first business I purchased from because of the wide variety of products they offer.

    Like you, I had a very bad experience with my very first order. My package was damaged in shipping and returned to the sender without ever being delivered to me. Not their fault but after weeks of waiting and no contact, I realized I had to call them or I was not going to get my order I paid for. It took me a whole day of phone calls just to get to speak with a person. Phone calls were not answered from the moment their call center opened. I left 4 separate messages and no one ever called back. So after a few hours I’d try to call again. By afternoon I was so utterly frustrated by the inability to e-mail or get anyone to even answer their phone line – I left stronger and stronger messages until I finally had to tell them I was not calling again – I was calling a lawyer and filing a complaint with BBB.
    Harsh- maybe. But the utter frustration in not being able to get through to anyone really took a toll on my patience. But the bad experience didn’t end there. When someone finally called me back, it took me half an hour to make them understand my order had never been delivered, despite repeated requests for them to check the tracking where it was spelled out the package was returned to sender. The caller was indifferent, kept insisting I return the damaged merchandise (indicated they were not even listening to me) and sounded annoyed to even have to speak to me. I was polite on the phone but firm because by now I’d had enough run around. It wasn’t until I demanded a refund that the employee agreed to reship the order. The entire experience was so bad from a customer service stand point I have never bought from them again, even though I see you can order their products on Walmart.com. and bypass them. I don’t know what it would take for me to come back and give them another try – but I am glad to read your article stating they at least finally recognize they have a serious customer service problem. I am also glad to read others have had a good experience. For the sake of consumers who want these products, it’s my hope they really are serious about fixing their customer service problems at last.

  6. Around Christmas time I found one of my small cans had begun to bulge on both ends. I routinely mark every can from EE with the date I receive their product. I noticed that this particular can was recently bought on 6/15, so it should not have been out of date, but something wrong was obviously going on inside the can to make it unhealthy to use. I sent two emails over 5 weeks, asking to get a replacement product and I could mail the offending can back to EE. I was concerned if they needed to do a call back. In my 3rd email, after still no feedback from them in March 2016, told them to take me off their mailing list.
    It was only after someone online recommended I call their direct line, did I get feedback. I did eventually get a replacement can and they were very helpful, but customer service still needs improvement.

  7. Gaye, this article explains a little bit, but EE must be understaffed. Since last fall my orders have taken weeks to arrive. There has been 2 orders that weren’t complete. I was only charged for items shipped, but some items are not always available on a regular basis, like freeze dried mushrooms, they are very expensive to buy in a store. Other than that, I’m pretty satisfied. The person I had talked to a couple months ago said they were working on getting another warehouse going, so we shall see. The demand for this type of food has increased immensly, in the last couple of years, and I’ve noticed a big hike in prices as well. Anyone keeping an eye on Venezuela lately?

  8. Gaye. I dont know if you know how much of an impact you have on your readers. I have bought so much from EE. If you reviewed on your website, I bought it. I had purchased a one year supply of dehydrated food for my family of 6, back in the 1970’s. That supply has reached it use by date. I had been replacing all of this with EE. Every sale they had I purchased for them. I had shipments from the bi-weekly. When you announced your alert, I stopped cold turkey. I am so happy that they have turned things around.
    I did have the occasion to visit their store in Utah while visiting a daughter. I did feel they were a bunch of snobs and their service in the store was horrible. If I asked a question about a product, I just as well talked to the wall.
    I will over look this with your new stamp of approval. Thank you so much for all you do for the prepping community.

  9. I have purchased half of my food storage from them and never had an issue. If there is a mistake the fix it. If they ship something wrong they replace it a offer to let me buy the incorrect item at a discount or return it. I love the group specials and use them when I can. I buy for 32 people in four families.

  10. Just wanted to share my experience. I placed my first order with EE on May 6th and got a prompt email containing the details of the order. It said most orders would ship within 1-5 business days. After no further communication for 10 business days I emailed them when I saw the order status still said “processing” to find out what that meant.

    Their reply: “Your order is being processed by the warehouse. Typically the orders are shipped within 5 business days. We were waiting on a couple of items for this order to ship it out. It will be going out this next week.
    Let us know if you have any further questions.”

    Of course, I have to wonder how an order can be processed by the warehouse when not all the product is on hand…but the real thing that annoyed me was the “Typically orders are shipped within 5 business days.” Yes, I’ve read them elsewhere too, but it’s been 10 business days and your website hasn’t changed since I placed the order….they obviously have a lot of work to do on their back end if their order status page can’t acknowledge a backorder situation. Although maybe they have made a conscious decision not to use the term, since it wasn’t in the email reply I got either? Or maybe the reply I got was a canned response, since it didn’t detail which item(s) weren’t available and were holding up the order….

    I’m glad so many others are having good luck with them, but so far I’m not loving their (in)attention to detail. All I can say at this point is I hope they send me a tracking number before my credit card is charged or I’m going to freak out at them….

    • Closing the loop here.

      After 5 weeks, I finally received my order, but had gotten no shipping notification and the website was still showing the order as processing. I had actually called them two hours after the first box had arrived on my porch because I wasn’t home to know that and the website still showed no changes since the processing right after the order was placed. In fact, 10 days after the order has been received their website STILL shows the (now completed) order as processing?!?
      My suggestion to folks is if you have any questions about an order after 5 days from order placement, just call them. Don’t use the website contact form, don’t email them – you won’t get accurate responses if any at all. You need to talk to a human being…just be prepared to wait on hold…it took me 45 minutes to get through to a human.
      And if EE is reading this thread still, please, please, please fix your backend computer systems, ok?

      • Letting you know that I just forwarded your “closing the loop” comment to my rep at Emergency Essentials. I would love it if they responded directly to this comment thread.

      • Hey there! I am terribly sorry for the less than pleasant experience with us. We have been hiring more customer service staff to help cut down wait times, and we are aware of the order status issue on our website. We are working with our web people to fix that (because, let’s be honest, it’s uber annoying to always have it show as “processing”). So we are working on fixing all these problems. Again, I’m sorry about your negative experience. We’re working hard to make it all better so things like that won’t happen again.

        • Thanks for the prompt reply. While I appreciate your hiring more customer service staff, it’s much more important to fix the website issues. If the website had told me that my order was waiting on an item then I wouldn’t have bothered anyone quite as soon. And if it had an expected date for fulfillment, then I wouldn’t have reached out until after that date, or if the date slipped more than a few days. In other words, by fixing the website you’ll have MUCH less pressure on the customer service reps which frees them up to respond quickly to the folks who do need to talk to them. Thanks for listening.

          • You are spot on. I’m not sure what the hold up is on the website issue, but it has something to do with the back end of our site, and we’re working with our off-site web team to fix it. When it comes to the technical side of it, I’m not sure what the deal is, but I do know it is being worked on as we speak. Hopefully the fix doesn’t take too much longer.

  11. I think EE is patronizing you. Lots of talk, little change. I have an order in with them that was submitted on 5/17/2016 and today is 2/27/2016 and it is still sitting in the infamous “processing” mode. I used EE’s customer contact twice to ask what is the problem, and they haven’t responded to either request. I have had slow response and receipt trouble with 2 for orders. I am going to look for another source of MRE’s, anybody out there got a recommendation?

    • I don’t know how the pricing compares, but two sites that I’ve used for other prepping supplies (mainly #10 cans) mention MREs often: Nitro-Pak and The ReadyStore.

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  13. Hi,
    Having been a long time group coordinator purchasing through EE I have to say and agree with Dave. I’m not sure things have really changed.
    Sometime orders go right through and ship fairly quickly other times its a deep dark hole. I placed two orders late last month. I got the second order in about a week. The first order is no where to be found. Tried to call and have left multiple message over the last week plus just trying get a status. Have yet to hear back.

    On top of that there have been numerous people who have left the company that had been there for a long time. Both of the main group coordinators are no longer there. (Kathy and Vickie)
    That right there makes me think there is definitely something not right. Over the last year I have had numerous shipping mistakes, double shipments, failed to ship, and damaged goods due to sloppy packing.
    If they are making efforts to correct, great, I think the jury is still out whether they have made enough progress yet.

  14. Update, After posting and sending two messages, 1 directly to a rep I know is still there, and a generic. I did hear back and the order shipped and has arrived.
    Though with yet another item missing. Emailed and it is getting taken care of.
    Kudo’s to EE for fixing the problem. But bit of a black mark for messing up the shipping again. Biggest problem looks like it continues to be a shipping department not yet ready to handle the increased business they generate and continue to generate.

    I would be great to see EE respond directly here. Thanks for trying to set that up. Don’t want to complain but I also do want to see improvement.

    • Paris,

      I do apologize for the long wait times on shipping. We just re-inventoried and did an overhaul of our warehouse last weekend as we work on improving our shipping process. It should be better now, and we’re constantly striving to improve. I’ll admit, there have been some pressing problems, but things should be a lot better now 🙂

      • Thanks for the reply. Look forward to better communication about shipping, less mistakes and bad packaging (That seems to have been fixed already!), and continued improvements.
        Looking forward to more business (or at least as soon as the same things are not on group special or sale that I already have plenty extras of! :-})

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