Monday, October 17, 2011

The Perils of Brand Loyalty

I'm not a super brand-loyal consumer.  Granted, I've been a Crest kid from way back (something about that ADA endorsement always made a difference to me)...and I'm very loyal to hair products (you just don't mess with a good thing!)...but outside of that, it's kind of whatever.  

So I was surprised to fall in love with a fabric softener.  Although, to be fair, it's not the fabric softener itself (they all work pretty much the same)'s the scent!  I finally found one that smells like...I don't some exotic flower garden in the middle of India with cinnamon and cloves brewing somewhere nearby.  It's spicy and it's awesome and the clothes smell good forever.  

I'm in lurve.

And then, of course, the local grocery store stopped selling it.  I thought it would be ok.  I muddled through by using something inferior for awhile, but...goshdarnit...I really liked the other stuff!  I started realizing that it was totally unacceptable to just "muddle through" when I'd found something I liked so much.  

So rather than drive all around, I did what any self-respecting consumer would do:  I checked online and discovered that yes!  I could, in fact, find it there!  And!  I could buy a whole case!  Of 64 oz bottles!!  A case of the good stuff would last approximately until the Monkey hits high school!  I pulled the trigger.  YES!  SEND ME THAT CASE!!

I came home earlier in the week to find a box at the front door!  It arrived!  Although...the box was...odd.  There was a note on it that didn't make sense.  And when I opened it, there were 4 bottles of the good stuff...not 6.  Now the note made sense:  4/6 remain.  Crap.  Now I've paid for 6 bottles but only got 4.  That's not ok.  I hopped online and found the links to report my feedback.  Two bottles were damaged in transit, but 4 arrived in tact.  Could they please send me the two bottles?

I got the follow up email in about an hour (this company has great customer response time!):  "Hi...I'm so sorry for the problem.  I've already placed a $0 replacement order that will ship soon.  Following are the instructions for returning the damaged pieces..." blah blah blah.  Ok, that's cool of them!  Rock on customer service dude!  Except...wait..."replacement" order?  Does that mean.....?

Yes.  It does.  I check and sure enough, there's a new zero-cost order for another 6-pack.  Which is great!  Except that fabric softener bottles in bulk are heavy!  And I'm notoriously slow about getting to the mailbox (or the bank or the post office or...).  The instructions say that if I don't ship back the original order within a certain time, I'm going to be charged and I don't want that...ugh.  Yuck.  Surely this isn't the very best solution, right?

I send another note back to customer service thanking them for the quick reply, but asking if there's any way to avoid the return.  Couldn't they just send me the 2 bottles I'm missing instead?   The return reply was there by morning:  "Hi there!  I'm so sorry our last email was confusing...  We cannot break up a case to only replace damaged pieces.  Also, because you have ordered a health an beauty product, we cannot take a return for this item, so please disregard the return instructions in the last email.  Please dispose of the damaged product at your earliest convenience." 

Um.  Sure!  I'd be happy to "dispose" of the 4 bottles...  (I think I'll do it a capfull at a time, btw, into my washing machine...)  And now they're sending 6 more. Not only does that totally amortize the cost I paid over a larger number of bottles, but our laundry will now smell good right up until the apocalypse!  Either that, or it's going to be a fabric softener Christmas this year!  I'll be like Oprah!!  (you get a bottle!  and you get a bottle!) 

But wait!  There's more....

Friday, I come home to find a giant box on the front stoop with 6 bottles of good smelling fabric softener in them.  Except I realized as I got closer that I could actually smell the fabric softener.  Which is nice but....ugh...sure enough, there's a pink river on the stoop now.  (Quick tip:  fabric softener on smooth brick = super slippy!)

As I was getting everything cleaned up (I only lost about half of one of the six bottles), the Monkey asked if I was going to write them again to report the damaged bottle...  I think I'm all set.

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