"Coming Clean With Our Products"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Saturday, March 14, 2015

There was a time when products were almost always purchased by brand name. If purchasing laundry soap, you made a selection based on a brand name. If that detergent cleaned your clothes satisfactorily, without causing any family member skin irritations, you stuck with it. Thereafter, it became a loyalty purchase as well as a preferred brand.

Many shoppers no longer look for a specific brand. Now they shop by price. Brand name products have to fight for position on display shelves because brand is less important than price. Therefore, the price is displayed at eye level. Price is what shoppers are looking for along with what they have a coupon for.

This scenario applies to many products in grocery stores such as: canned fruit and vegetables. The store’s brand, which usually costs less, is displayed at eye level. Few shoppers differentiate between name brands vs store brands because they are so similar. They appear the same and taste the same at the dinner table.

Dairy products are not the same. Milk may be whole, 1 percent, 2 percent or fat free. Cottage cheese has many variables: large or small curd and the run of whole, low fat and fat free. Although the cartons have similar appearances, no two brands of milk or cottage cheese taste the same. Brand products may have a better chance of attracting shoppers but price will often be the deciding factor.

You may find some products are manufactured by companies that don’t seem to care if you like their products. Personal hygiene items like toothpaste are an example. Most have the same content and also taste about the same. So there is no big sell job for them.

While shopping for my anti-perspirant deodorant, I picked up a product that was not my usual brand. It was brightly colored and at eye level. I later saw that my brand had changed its logo and it was placed near the bottom of the display. My wife and I were going out to lunch and as I headed for the door she stopped me and said, “Are you going out with those stains all over your shirt?” I had used the new deodorant that afternoon after my shower and it ruined a favorite, $50-valued shirt that could not be replaced.

The next day, after an exhaustive attempt to clean the stains, I called the company’s customer service department and gave them the batch number on the container. I explained what had happened including the fact the shirt carried a special logo (Barrett Jackson) and was irreplaceable. I told them the product label read “72-hour protection from an invisible solid.” It only took five minutes for the product to ruin my shirt with orange and yellow stains on both sides.

While talking to the customer representative, the line was disconnected. I called back and there was no reason given for the hang up. It was explained to me that because the shirt was over a year old they would only provide $10 as compensation. Although I won’t name the product, I also won’t purchase it again.

As I see it, the lack of concern shown to unhappy customers seems to be of no interest to some companies.

The current attitude is: if you have a bad experience with their product, you will just throw it out and buy a different brand next time. Manufacturers will often change product packaging so you may not notice you purchased an item that disappointed you.

I remember when pride in a product was very important and customer satisfaction was of the utmost concern. There are still some companies that will bend over backwards to please their customers and are thankful to be made aware of any problems. When I encounter them, I recommend them to others and make sure I always shop with them.


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