Saturday, 29 October 2011

Procter and Gamble - Bold

This is the second entry of my recent communications with consumer giants Procter and Gamble. In the first entry I spoke about my poor experience with their Olay face wipes, and now I shall tell you about my issue with my recent purchase of Bold.

It wasn't so much of a complaint concerning the product itself; Bold 2in1 Gel liquid is a fantastic detergent product that effectively washes my clothes and linen. The cleaning power is great, softness is comparative to using a secondary fabric conditioner and the long lasting scent is consistently fresh and pleasant. I normally purchase the 18 wash liquid bottle (in Lavender and Chamomile which is my favourite scent because it's so relaxing) but on this occasion I purchased the larger 28 wash bottle.

As much as I adore this gel liquid, when I began using the larger sized bottle of Bold I realised something that could quite possibly be effecting many consumers who may well be avoiding the product altogether. Maybe not so much a flaw in the design but definitely a poorly - even narrow minded - design.

I have a condition called Fibromyalgia which, without getting all medical and technical and off topic, is a syndrome of a multitude of ills that includes muscle pain and weakness. I found that the specific design of the bottle which is almost almond shaped made it quite difficult to dispense the gel, especially as the bottle became less full. The opening point is sited at the bottom of the bottle, obviously to work with gravity and make the squirting out job easier, but the membrane like dispensing hole is so strong you need have plenty muscle in you to force the gel out. I actually found myself squeezing until I hurt yet still had barely managed a dribble of a dose, and so I needed the assistance of my partner to do it for me. I find this totally ridiculous that in this day and age I am unable of operating what should be a simple household helping hand - a washing detergent of all things!

I emailed P&G because I felt there must be so many other people out there who will be experiencing the same trouble as myself, many potential customers that P&G are not meeting the needs of (and subsequently losing the profit of), including the frail elderly and those who have difficulties, whether through illness, injury or handicap. I received a reply within a matter of days.

Considering the nature of my feedback I didn't feel I received an adequate response. I raised some crucial points concerning difficulties with dispensing their product and I was provided with a condescending bullet point list of tips, including a reminder to shake the bottle first, and secondly to re-establish the air back into the bottle following use, squeezing with both hands. I think this is a silly requirement to be able to use a simple product anyway; the requirement for not only two hands but two very physically strong hands.

P&G hardly came to my rescue when I was in dire need of it but they did happily sent me some vouchers out in the post: two vouchers consisting of one at £5 and another at £2 to use against other P&G brands such as Bold and Lenor. I'll just try to avoid the large bottle in future.


Procter and Gamble - Olay

Today I have a result from two very recent dealings with Procter and Gamble. I wouldn't have called my contact with P&G both complaints as such, more constructive criticism/feedback. However I call it, I had some issues with Olay and Bold products which I felt I needed to raise as issues with the manufacturer behind these giant leading brands and I have to say their responses have been beyond my expectation.

I will split these up into two separate entries, and first I will speak about Olay and why I felt the urge to email their customer services.

I purchased two packs of Olay's Daily Facials Express cleansing wipes in fragrance free/sensitive skin formula and the normal/dry skin version. Being a make up wearer I was looking for a product that would effectively remove my eye make up, specifically my mascara and eye liner, so I was appealed by the product's claim on the front of the pack that they 'even remove(s) waterproof mascara'. I've previously used to a positive effect their Daily Facials Cleansing Cloths, the ones you activate with water to create a frothy foam, so I was expecting a similar effect with the instant wipes in the same Daily Facials range. I was remarkably disappointed with them.

Opening the two packs of the hydrating (normal/dry skin) and the soothing (sensitive skin) wet cleansing wipes I was intrigued by the typical face wipe appearance. The wipe was pleasantly soft but I wasn't hopeful when I felt how dry the wipes felt. Not bone dry but just damp. I was expecting a foamy moisturising texture in the wipe to thoroughly cleanse and condition my face, when the reality was that the wipe just didn't feel wet enough to do anything, let alone effectively. The less than generous wet wipe was an effort and felt a chore to use, and its ability to remove eye make up was ridiculously poor. Not even waterproof mascara but normal mascara was a job too physical for it. My eyes even felt a stinging sensation immediately after applying the wipe around my eyes, and this was the same with both wipe variants which surprised me. Olay's Daily Facials Express cleansing wipes had seriously let me down and at over £4 a pack, hit a blow at my expectations.

I emailed P&G customer services and they responded fairly quickly, within a few days. They acknowledged all my comments and said they would pass my complaints onto the relevant departments. They apologised that I thought the wipes were dry and said that they would ensure their Quality Assurance department to look into the matter. On the subject of my stingy eye sensation, P&G told me that some personal experiences are beyond their control. I would hope they still investigate this though. P&G said 'we would love you to continue using our Olay products and I have posted you out a coupon for your next purchase'. I received two vouchers, one for £15 and other for £5 to redeem against any Olay or Max Factor products. Considering the price of the wipes, almost £5 per pack, I am most impressed with P&G for giving me a refund in effect with £10 for the 'pain'. I won't be buying their Express wipes in a hurry but I'm sure I'll find something else which will suit me. Fantastic result!


Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Veet Wax Strips - Reckitt Benckiser

Reckitt Benckiser, the makers behind Veet, have really disappointed me with their product and customer service this month. I've been using Veet wax strips for many months now, being a relatively recent convert after many years of using epilators and up until this occasion I have been more than happy with Veet's effect on my legs. They are a swift way of removing hair and I haven't been suffering with ingrown hairs like I used to do.

Not this time though. A few weeks ago I bought a 40 pack of their Ready to Use wax strips for Short Hair from Bodycare, a beauty shop in the Metro Centre, Gateshead. I thought it strange that the box had an expired offer which ended in 2008 but I didn't think anymore of it. When I came to use the wax strips later on that week I couldn't believe how ineffective they were and far from their usual standard. The strips visibly had less wax on them and the strip itself felt odd. I rubbed the strips in my hands as usual which would normally warm up the wax and allow the strips to separate seamlessly, but these ones didn't. The wax pulled and felt tough, almost brittle. I applied the strip to my leg, smoothed it down a few times in the direction of the hair growth as the pack instructs, and I pulled it back. The wax had pulled only a few hairs, leaving sticky residue on the untouched hairs and an imprint on the strip. Normally I can apply the same strip several times without starting a new strip but not so with these ones. After the first application there was no second. I ended up using the entire 40 strip box for it only to do a poor job. By this time I was fuming.

I emailed Veet, telling the issues with the wax strips and I didn't hear anything for about a week. Then I received a call from customer services on my answer machine. I tried returning the call but could never get through. I ended up getting a second email from them saying if I didn't respond in the next 7 days then my complaint would be disregarded. I sent an email back saying how I couldn't get hold of them and gave all the information I could from the box. No response arrived but then Saturday morning I opened an envelope to find two £4 vouchers inside to redeem against any Veet product. At first I thought 'Yay! I got my money back' but when I went into town I realised I hadn't been given something as great as I'd first believed. To replace what I'd originally bought, which was a 40 strip pack, it'd set me back £11.99. A normal 20 strip pack costs between £5 and £6 depending on where you shop. Based on this, I could only really afford one pack of 20 with my £8 compensation, or 2 if I put a few quid of my own in. Not really getting my money back is it? With half an hour to go until shops closed I checked out the chemists and stores I thought would sell them. I was surprised even Wilkinsons sold Veet wax strips at the normal price, almost £6. Eventually I found Semichem selling them at £3.99 a box of 20, though admittedly even these were the strips before Veet brought out the new strip design and few months ago. Hmmm. Needless to say, I bought 2 packs of the £3.99 strips which both paid for by my vouchers and provided me with my 40 strips replacement, but I can't help but feel Veet have given me a half effort service. I shouldn't have had to traul the high street for the cheapest I could find, especially as it meant I bought the old design. Am I wrong for thinking Veet should really have given me a voucher to redeem against a 40 strip pack or provide me with vouchers for £12, which is what they cost?


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

BBC The One Show

The art of complaining has today reached the BBC with The One Show's resident consumer expert Dom Littlewood speaking about the UK's complaining inadequacies. It seems we as a nation are pretty poor with dealing with issues that rile us; we accept too easily a poor deal from our utility providers and the retail industry. Apparently we don't know how to complain and just resort to whinging, which of course doesn't solve anything and neither do we feel better for it.

Dom's top tips of the art of complaining included:

1. Avoid wasting time ringing call centres and instead write to complain. Find out the department in the company responsible for dealing with customer satisfaction, even a named person if you can, and go direct with your complaint.

2. Remember to make a note of all communication including dates and times of a phone discussion and the name of the person you spoke to. This is important if the case ends up going to court.

3. Always make a complaint in writing, keep it civil and try not to get upset and throw insults, important to remember if you do speak on the phone. If you do begin shouting and swearing the phone operator is within their rights to hang up on you.


Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Welcome to the first post!

Complaining is considered a very British institution, but only in the sense of non offensive subjects such as the weather. When it comes to the need for defending our consumer rights, we quite often don't want to be seen as impolite and rude, and instead allow misunderstandings or outright misleading sales tactics to rob us to save 'causing a scene'. I for one can not stomach this attitude and believe it our own duty to fight for our consumer rights if anything is to have standard and worth in this world.

I have been standing up for my rights since I was a a pre-teen girl. I can recall at least one occasion where I'd known I wasn't happy with what I'd received in exchange for my pocket money. I had bought a pack of plain paper from the local market one Saturday, which I'd intended to draw on. When I'd returned home and peeled away the cellophane wrapping, I was incensed to discover the paper was not indeed just plain paper, but glossy plain paper. It was of no use to me and what frustrated me more was the feeling of being deceived. The paper was bundled in plastic which hid the fact it was polished and not smooth, and the stall had not marked it as such nor made me aware. I was angry and wanted my money back. So back down the market I went, armed with glossy paper and receipt, and pointed out the misleading error to the taken aback stall holder. He had not seen me coming! Thankfully I was refunded as I'd wanted but never did find any plain paper for my afternoon of drawing.

Sometimes complaining comes easy; when you are especially angry with your shortcomings it can feel therapeutic arguing your case. But other times it can be more like a niggle; you know something's not 100% right, you don't feel 100% happy, but you don't know whether to raise the issue as a complaint or leave it and 'learn from the mistake'. The latter meaning you don't feel totally raged with fury and can't really be bothered to prove your point!

Complaining is an art. Many times I feel more self aware and almost embarrassed, even afraid, of what the complaining may onslaught. If you don't complain 'right' it can all go wrong and you lose your positive position in the situation. If your temperament and attitude isn't constructive you risk being unreasonable and therefore miss opportunities where a resolution could have successfully met. Unfortunately I am not always that perfectly calm person I wish I was and probably ruin my chances of a valid complaint, which has swiftly morphed into an argument.

Which is why I am better dealing with complaints by letter; handwritten, typed up or emailed. Whichever way, I feel I can better describe the points I am making and detail why I am unhappy and what I would like to recompense the situation. This is my style, for the personal complaints, you're best off dealing with my other half than me!

So this is why I wanted to start this blog. I've put it off for so long (I'm quite the thinker/througher, or as the better half would say, a procrastinator) so here I am, doing it now. Whenever I have cause for complaint, receive service not up to scratch, get overcharged or buy something I think is not good enough to sell off the shelf, I'll post it here too - and I'll be letting you know what the business or person has to say about it. I may even throw some praise in the mix for those who have surpassed my expectations. Stay tuned, this will be getting interesting!