More consumer frustration

June 20, 2016

I recently bought a plastic bottle of after shave, and experienced frustration in being unable to control the amount of product that came out of the bottle.  Here’s the message I wrote to the company:

I like your product, but the hole in the plastic insert at the opening of the bottle is way too big. Much more of the product than intended comes out every time I use it, causing me to waste a great deal of the product. You should buy the inserts your competitors use, which have much smaller openings that allow the user much more control over how much of the product comes out.

Within a very short time, I received a personalized response to my message:

Thank you for contacting us regarding * * *. We welcome all comments about our products.

We conducted several packaging tests with an automated dispenser to determine the internal shape of the orifice reducer as well as the orifice diameter that would provide the same “dose” as the glass sprinkler finish. It was based on these test results that the current plug was designed. For proper application of the After Shave, please try not to squeeze the bottle while applying the product. We are also filling the bottles with more product (to maintain our shelf size/impression) and the longer use-up rate.

Were I a professor in an MBA program (heaven forbid), I would give this company relatively high marks for the promptness of its reply, and for attempting to address the specific concern I expressed in my communication.  However, although the message attempted to justify the use of the bottle insert that I found problematic, I would take away points because it did so not by stating that the insert used met most of its customers’ needs, or that it would re-evaluate the situation based on my and others’ suggestions, but because it replicated the previously-used glass packaging, whether that packaging met its customers’ needs or not.

I replied that tests of the insert on human customers might be more helpful than automated dispensing tests, and that I did not squeeze the bottle when dispensing the product, but I did not receive a further response.

Bottom line — I will not buy this product again.  Every time I use it, half of what is dispensed goes down the drain, wasted.  I don’t really care about whether the present container has the same dispensing characteristics as a previously-used container, and I don’t care about shelf size/impression and longer use-up rate (whatever they are).  As a professor, I would deduct further points for use of undefined industry jargon in a response to a lay person.

Another pet peeve:  the response to my original inquiry was “signed” by an employee who gave only her first name.  I suppose in an age when many customer service people won’t even give you that information unless you beat it out of them, I guess that’s above-average.

Dealing with vehicular terrorists

June 1, 2016

Has this happened to you?  You’re driving along an expressway at or slightly above the speed limit and, without warning, a car passes you and cuts in front of you, missing you by inches, and continues on at a speed so excessive you feel you are standing still, and it repeats the process each time it approaches another vehicle.  I have to believe that  drivers of these vehicles cause far more than their fair share of accidents, some being immediately due to the terror they strike in other motorists, who may react erratically, and others because they misjudge and hit other vehicles and fail to negotiate turns and other hazards more often than most drivers.

In Ontario recently, on the Queen Elizabeth Way, a major highway, I noticed large billboards advising that drivers exceeding the speed limit by 50% would be subject to a CAD 10,000 fine (about $7,700 US) and immediate license suspension and vehicle impoundment.

Whether such a policy here would withstand a due process challenge is not entirely clear.  The fine, presumably imposed by a judge after a trial, could be challenged as excessive, but evidence of the disproportionate danger speeding at that level produces would probably justify it.  The immediate license suspension and vehicle impoundment gives a single officer a lot of discretion.  However, if a radar speed measurement is required, and immediate judicial review provided, that might be enough, given the great danger to which the penalty is directed and the high excessive speed required, for which it is hard to imagine any motorist having a valid excuse.  New York courts have upheld a “prompt suspension” law for those charged with DWI, but it is not as prompt as the Canadian measure, calling for a judge to first sustain the validity of an accusatory instrument.  Whether the courts here would approve a measure as strict as Ontario’s is not clear, but it may be worthwhile to find out.