Jane Bradley: Raise a toast to Genius behind gluten-free foods

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Life is hard for gluten-free diners. Hurray, therefore, for restaurant chains Ask and Pizza Express, which in a minor celebration for coeliacs have joined the growing band of eateries to offer gluten-free foods.

However, it is bakery firm Genius which wins this week’s gluten-free customer service award. A Scottish company, based in Edinburgh’s New Town, it provides gluten-free products to supermarkets across the UK.

My friend is a big fan of the brand. But when chomping on a gluten-free sandwich the other day, his favourite bread just didn’t taste right. He dashed off an email complaining about the flavour and was promptly called by a member of Genius’s staff, who talked through the problem with him, apologising profusely.

But their personal service did not stop there. On asking him for his address to post out a voucher to replace the disappointing loaf, the call handler realised his home was just a mile or so from Genius’s head office. On returning home that night, my friend discovered a handwritten envelope through his door, containing the voucher – and an already filled-in prescription, informing him that as a coeliac, he would be able to get their foods from the doctor.

That’s what I call customer service.

Continuing last week’s theme of cross-border linguistic disasters, I was reminded of a holiday destination in Croatia, which had a fairly serious problem in one of its new target tourist markets.

The coastal idyll of Pula was the perfect destination for the emerging band of holidaymakers from Romania. But every time a local travel agent in Romania advertised this beautiful spot, passers-by would burst into laughter. Why? In Romanian, the word “pula” is slang for a gentleman’s appendage. The solution? Change the pronunciation. Romanian travel agents adopted a drawling tone when discussing it with a potential client: “Do you want to book tickets to Paaaaula?” they would ask. And before long, the giggles stopped.