Monday, March 16, 2009

low tide at proctor & gamble

Something stinks in my laundry room. Last week I wrote a post about laundry detergents after reading this post over at Bossy's place, where one of her readers suggested that manufacturers recommend amounts of detergent that are way more than is necessary to get clothes clean, and that you could save a great deal of money by reducing the amount of detergent used.
So, I wrote glowingly about Tide and how it really does a great job getting the laundry very clean, especially the stinky dog bedding and slipcovers.

This led me to notice a discrepancy on my detergent bottles:

I'm an artist, not a mathematician, but even to my right brain self this didn't add up, particularly after I'd checked that the directions on both bottles said to fill cap to line 1 , and the cap sizes were exactly the same. How could you get 12 more loads out of one 100 oz. bottle and not the other?
So I went to the Tide website and asked for an explanation. A few days later I received their initial reply:

I'm sorry we can't answer your question via email. Most of the information we're able to share with consumers is either on our brand or corporate website ( If you've already searched those sites thoroughly and still can't find what you're looking for, please call us using the toll-free number on our product packages, and we'll do whatever we can to help. We're open Monday - Friday 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM EST.

Thanks again for writing.

P&G Team

Okay, I'm not sure why Bernadette and the rest of the P&G Team couldn't answer my question via email, but I think it may be a simple tactic of presenting a little speed bump to weed out less determined consumer advocates. So, stubborn consumer that I am, I called them up.

After navigating through at least 10 speed bumps choices on the automated phone system, and listening to plugs for Tide Total Care and how Good Housekeeping proved how much money I could save by washing my valuable clothing (most of which was purchased at the Goodwill) with this amazing new product, and reminding me that I can get answers to my most frequently asked questions on the website, I was subjected to some vaguely familiar music that sounded like it was from an old musical...followed by:

"We're sorry, but we are currently experiencing a high call volume. We understand that your time is valuable, and thank you for your patience. Please continue to hold and your call will be answered in the order in which it was received."

I continued to hold, dozing off every now and then, but the familiarity of the hold music was starting to get to me. What was it? I know I've heard it before!
After about ten minutes, my call was answered in the order in which it was received.

I asked for an explanation for the difference in the totals, and the pleasant, but somewhat dense young woman on the other end of the phone tried to oblige. Her justification was that the Tide with Febreze had more ingredients than the unscented formula, and therefore you needed to use more, so you got fewer loads from the same size bottle. I didn't get it. I explained again that the cap sizes were the same, and that each bottle was 100 oz., and that it seemed to me that she was trying to tell me that in one instance, 1+1=2, but on the other hand, 1+1 could also=3.

She couldn't grasp what I was getting at, and kept repeating what she was probably reading off the customer service screen in front of her. I asked if there was someone else I could speak to about this, and she suggested I hang up and call again and I would most likely get another customer service representative. (Thereby relieving her of responsibility for this nutcase.)

Since I didn't feel confident that calling back would get me any farther, I asked if perhaps she had a number for the Marketing department. She then warned me that it would be a long distance call, but she gave me the corporate headquarters number. (In case anyone's interested, it's (513) 983-1100)

I went back down to the laundry room basement and checked the bottles again, just to make sure I had all the facts straight before I made a stink with HQ. And darned if I didn't notice something I hadn't seen before:

The cap sizes were the same, but "line 1" isn't in the same place on each cap. I checked the measurements just to be sure, and confirmed it. You have to use more of the scented formula than the unscented.

Just then it came to me...the music that I heard while I was on hold?

followed by:

I give up.


mo.stoneskin said...

I admire your resolve, I could never be bothered!

Reminds me of my dad. He was re-mortgaging, and he is the kind of person who puts all the figures (interest rates, fees, time frames) in a spreadsheet to make sure they all add up.

He just could not get to the same results.

He spent months corresponding with them. He would point out they were wrong, even proving that to them by sending them his spreadsheet, but they would not a) properly investigate or b) attempt to explain their figures.

Eventually after about 8 months of persistence they gave in and admitted their mortgage broker had got it badly wrong!

g said...

You persisted, but the bastards still weaseled out!!


Auds at Barking Mad said...

Tide is sooooo stinkin expensive that never ever use it anyhow. I'm cheap like that. I even use vinegar as a fabric softener. *lol*

Go you though for your persistence. I'd have probably had a nervous breakdown after having to sit and listen to that hold music for so long.

Sparx said...

I love this post. That sort of thing drives me mental too...