Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Free Toothpaste?!

I use a discontinued toothbrush -- a Sonicare Intelliclean, which was the result of some sort of partnership between Philips and Crest. It uses its own special Crest toothpaste that you sorta load into the toothbrush with little toothpaste cartridges. The toothbrushes are pretty hard to find (I had to get a replacement off eBay when my first one died), but I quite like them. For a time, finding the toothpaste was also a bit of PITA, but apparently someone has started selling it again. I'm nearly out, and I saw some toothpaste on Amazon. Great! A box of replacement cartridges was $25. But a twin-pack was $35. Clearly, I want the twin-pack.

I order the twin-pack.

Today, my (standard) big-box-from-Amazon-with-something-tiny-in-it arrives via the UPS man. I open the box and find, within, a single box of toothpaste.

I write Amazon customer service. I point out that I clearly purchased a two-pack. I ask them if they'd be so kind as to send me a second pack of toothpaste.

I received a reply. The salient points (each of which appeared to be cut-and-pasted from some Manual On Customer Complaints) were:
1. Sorry you're not happy.
2. Although your order was fulfilled by Amazon, your product was actually sold by someone else, and we can't control the inventory [although both single and double-packs still appear to be for sale on Amazon]
3. Because it's toothpaste, we can't accept the return [although it's in untouched cartridges still in a factory sealed package]
4. We'll be crediting your account the entire $35 purchase price.

This struck me as inefficient in a whole lot of ways. Clearly, sending me a second pack of toothpaste might have been a good way to resolve this. Offering me, say, a partial refund of half the purchase price (since I got half the toothpaste) also seemed reasonable. But, no, they told me to keep the toothpaste and they'd give me back my $35.

I came online to 'blog this as remarkably inefficient from an economic point of view. I mean, sure, free toothpaste -- but if someone in customer service was actually permitted to think for himself and engage me in dialogue, we probably could have reached a solution that was happy for everyone, rather than having them write off the entire purchase as a loss.

That was my purpose. About halfway through the post, I thought, "well, since the toothpaste is mine now, I might as well open up the box."

The toothpaste expired in August.

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