Product Quality

That title sounds really boring, doesn’t it? It’s all good though. It’s about free stuff! 🙂

I knew that deciding to stay home for awhile with the girls while my husband works (and mostly 12+hour days) wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. It’s not. It’s really hard. It’s putting a new pair of shoes last on the list. It’s taking naps when the kids do to calm your raging migraine or just because you are so incredibly exhausted. It’s screaming for no reason at all just to let out all that frustration. It’s also not accepting poor quality control standards.

And here’s what I mean. While I don’t feel that put out in terms of what ‘wants’ I can indulge in, I do pay a lot closer attention to where our money is going. I’ve been a stickler for not throwing food out and finishing leftovers before they go bad. We use every single drop in the toothpaste tube and make darn sure that we are putting away enough savings for the girls’ college funds and for an addition on our house (five years away) before spending on ourselves. That all being said, I’ve come to expect a certain quality in the things that I do buy. And if it is not up to par, I contact the company.

Does it seem ridiculous to you? It did to me at first. Last year, soon after the twins had come home from the hospital, I purchased a bag of Rold Gold Honey Wheat pretzels. They are one of Evie’s favorite snacks (and one of her first snacks too). And not on sale they are about $4 a bag. A splurge, really, because she didn’t NEED them. But I wanted to get them for her. You’ve probably seen these pretzels. They’re about two inches long and are braided from little pretzel strands. Well this particular bag was only about 1/3 braided. It was mostly individual strands of pretzel. And they were too hard for her to eat.

I got SOOOOOOOO mad. And sad. And disappointed. I’m sure it was mostly my hormones still trying to adjust but I was upset that my daughter was upset and this treat had been spoiled for her. I googled the company, found their contact form, and sent them a note expressing my extreme disappointment over this pretty trivial thing. A few weeks later, we got two coupons in the mail for replacement products.

It’s been a couple months shy of a year since this first complaint and since then I’ve made a few more. I always do feel a bit guilty, as if I am ‘scamming the system’ or something. But in the end it comes down to this – I paid a price for a product and if I can’t use all of that product in the manner it was intended, then I should get a coupon to make up for the money that was wasted. The difference in how companies respond is pretty varied. Some want all the info – numbers, dates, where you purchased, receipt info, etc, and some just send you coupons and ignore your actual complaint. Here is the round-up of my complaints – probably not in order – from this past year.

  • 1 empty (punctured) Coke can out of a 12/pack
  • 1 unsealed Capri Sun pouch out of a 10/pack
  • 1 smooshed and too hard to eat mini bagel out of a bag of Thomas’ bagels
  • Beech Nut baby food that was a different color than other jars of the same flavor
  • Stonyfield yogurt that was too liquidy for the twins to eat

The worst company to deal with was Coca-Cola. They wanted pictures, times and a bunch of other ridiculous information like can codes and box codes. And after taking the time to send them a detailed email with everything they wanted I got a curt email saying. ‘We are out of coupons. We’ll try to send you one later.’

*Note – they did send 2 coupons but they were assholes about it, nonetheless

The best company I dealt with was Beech-Nut. I spoke to a woman named Elaine for over a half an hour as she checked plant logs and formula logs to see if anything was noted about that particular batch of food. She told me that her and the other office worker (only two of them) taste test all the batches and that I should try the Sweet Potato with Cinnamon pouch because it was really good. And when she heard I also had a toddler who ate the pouches she said she would send me coupons for those too so we could try them. I ended up throwing out the jar (even though we did determine it to be a natural discoloration) just because I wanted to safe rather than sorry. But I ended up with 5 free product coupons and 3 $1 off 2 coupons. Pretty swanky deal.

The company I was most disappointed in was Stonyfield Yogurt. I asked them a genuine question about their yogurt (not even making a complaint) but they didn’t respond to it. They simply said ‘sorry it was not up to your standards’ and sent me coupons. I just  wanted them to know that the yogurt I was purchasing through my milk-delivery service was coming in an almost purely liquid form. I wanted to make sure that it was still safe to eat and also to let them know that the dairy company probably was not properly refrigerating their product. So instead I’ll just have to buy it from the grocery store so that it comes in a yogurt-like state. Definitely a disappointment.

The little things certainly do add up even if you don’t really notice them.  A couple of weeks ago when we were just about out of baby and toddler food I remembered those Beech-Nut coupons and got a week’s worth of fruit/veggie pouches for the girls for a couple of bucks. And we always keep Capri Sun Roarin’ Waters around. [SIDEBAR – This actually started when Evie was born. We borrowed a mini-fridge from my father (he’s never getting it back) to keep pumped milk and formula up in our bedroom overnight (we had the bottle warmer and dish rack in our bathroom). My husband and I found that overnight feedings (and keeping our bedroom so warm) were making us incredibly thirsty so we started stocking bottled water and the Roarin’ Waters pouches as a healthy-ish alternative to juice in our bedrooms to quench late night thirst. And now we are so used to have ice cold pouches at hand.] Anyways, not on sale, these packs run for $2.50. And now we have four coupons because of one mis-sealed pouch.

And we’ve been saving our change for a year and a half and I just rolled it to find that we had $270 toward our (kid-less) Disney vacation in a couple of years. I used to not pick up pennies on the ground because I thought it made me look cheap. Not anymore. My husband works incredibly hard so that I can stay home. I owe it to him to do everything I can to make that money be enough for us to stay comfortable. Even if it means filing a petty complaint about a smooshed bagel.






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