Peanut Butter, Primer, and Pumps

Mauree Miller

I cut my thumb opening a plastic jar of peanut butter. Impossible, you say? No, this really happened.

There is a freshness seal under the lid of a new jar of peanut butter made of a thick foil and paper type of material. It seems pretty safe and I’m assured that the jar was never tampered with and, as my husband pointed out later, this peanut butter tasted fresh, unlike the last jar, which was about a year old. I have trouble figuring out when to throw things away. The old peanut butter had tasted fine, despite being out of date, so I used it until it was empty but probably should have thrown it out earlier. I have lipsticks that are almost as old as my children. Rule of thumb here is that I generally throw them out when they start to smell like crayons, but back to freshness seals. 

The seal had four very little tabs that should be pulled up to remove the seal. I chose one and pulled and pulled and pulled. I made a tiny opening, not big enough to get to the peanut butter—on to the next tab. As I pulled, it hit my thumb and I started to bleed. While holding a paper towel on my thumb and searching for a Band-Aid, I called the Customer Service number on the jar.. When I reached the representative, I explained what happened and suggested that they put a longer pull tab around the edge, or change the design in some way so that grabbing it would make the seal come off easily. The representative was attentive, though surprised.  She hadn’t heard this before, but took the bar code information promising to pass this along to their design area and sent me two coupons for free jars of peanut butter.

The question here is whether I’m just a klutz or this is a design problem that others experience, but don’t bother to report. My friend suggested other people may use their teeth, but I’d rather have a dinged thumb than a broken tooth.  The point is that if no one speaks up, then nothing changes.  It’s a minor issue, but if it’s more than my klutziness, the company should change the design. We have seen customer noise create change.  Remember the “New Coke?” People protested and the old Coke was back on the shelves. When a Coca Cola spokesman said, “We’re not that dumb and we’re not that smart,” he really summed it up—corporations often have ideas that don’t sync with customer needs.  If people hadn’t made noise, Coca Cola would not have made the change.

Take the primer issue.  What is primer?  When women get older, the makeup routine increases.  Primer is like spackle; it creates a smooth surface before makeup is applied.  One of the first companies to come out with primer had a great product in a bad package.  The bottle was initially easy to pump, but, after you had used about half, the pump wouldn’t work—press the pump and nothing came out.  Most stores and makeup companies back their products.  I returned mine to the store and received a new bottle.  After the same thing happened again, I returned it for a refund and changed brands.  The saleswoman told me that I wasn’t the only one with this problem and the company was working on a new design.  My sister stayed loyal, and also didn’t pay for primer for about a year, returning each bottle as it stopped working.  With all of the returns and reports, the company changed the design, and they are still a top selling brand. 

If you speak up or take action, you can get companies to hear you and to make things right. And, it is important even for the small things.


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