What About This…? 10.26.2017

When I don’t like a product, I let the manufacturer know.  It is not like I think they care what I say, but I figure if I don’t like something and let them know, they will think I represent the opinions of many consumers and they may change whatever it is that I don’t like.

Of course, if you want your opinion to carry some weight you’ll write a letter.  I’ve heard that national manufacturers treat a letter as if it represents the cares of 5000 consumers.  An email is less impressive to manufacturers, I think they ascribe 500 opinions to an email.  A telephone call rates lowest of all, probably because it is so easy to do, around five or 10 opinions.  But telephone calls are the most fun by far!

When our favorite salad dressing changed the applicator top they must have neglected to perform much research because after it was used once or twice the oil in the dressing lubricated the applicator top such that it popped off and about 20% of the dressing poured out over your salad. That’s the sort of occurrence that motivates a communication from me.

I used the telephone because I was fit to be tied. When I got one of the telephone representatives at the manufacturer of the salad dressing on the phone I explained the problem with the popping-off applicator. The representative told me, I swear, “Many of our customers requested that applicator top to be continued.”

Well, obviously, this representative hadn’t heard the problem or confused my call with that of another customer. So I repeated how the top popped off due to the slippery product and an improperly designed edge of the top / container interface. When the representative repeated her previous statement, word for word, I realized she was reading the company’s canned response from a computer screen regardless of what anyone on the telephone might have said.  It gave me a chuckle.

But to get a really deep laugh you had to hear the call I made to the brewers of my favorite beer.

I’ve been drinking the same brand of beer for quite a while and was very pleased when I noticed that the brewers had raised the alcoholic content of their product to almost seven percent or 14 proof –– the same as some wines.  I firmly approved.

I was surprised the other day when I noticed while shopping that the alcoholic content of that beer had been lowered to 5.9% and wanted to know why and if that reduction was temporary.  So I called the brewery and asked.

What was the response? This is as close as I can remember:  “We’ve had a lot of calls from our customers who requested that we reduce the alcoholic content in our beer. We always try to give our customers what they want.”

Silly me, I though she had misunderstood me so I asked again why and for how long?  And, as any good telephone representative will do, she repeated the nonsense of customers desiring less alcohol.

I can truly say that I have never heard any beer drinking wish for less alcohol in their beer.  And, I have known a lot of beer drinkers.

So, after I stopped laughing, I asked the representative, just for the fun of it, “Do you think it could be that your company increased the alcoholic content of your beer to enhance sales, and when that didn’t happen, the company chose to return to the less expensive production of lower-alcohol beer?”  There was a long silence on the line and then the representative repeated, once more, “We’ve had a lot of calls from our customers who requested that we reduce….”

I’m not saying that complaints to the manufacturers will result in improvement (although the salad dressing manufacturer did redesign the applicator top, eventually) and I still have high hopes (yes, I get it) for a return to seven percent beer).  But for a moment of levity in the consumer-ignoring world of mass-marketing manufacturing, take a moment and call the manufacturer with a complaint when you have one.

If you adopt the proper attitude it just might get you a laugh –– and you never know, it just might have an effect, too.