This week a used book I had ordered arrived via a big name internet bookseller – one advertised as in “Very Good” condition. To my mild disgust, the cover of the book has some sort of tacky substance on both the front and back cover, which is a real deterrent to wanting to hold it to read. Not exactly the kind of thing you would want to curl up in bed with (what IS that stuff?). Getting beyond the cover, the inside of the book falls open to reveal that somebody had set down either a wet pot or bowl on it, leaving a perfectly circular ring across both pages and causing a significant number of pages on either side of it to be warped and wrinkled from getting wet. I don’t think I want to even attempt reading it like that. The postage cost more than the actual book did.
Yesterday I opened a brand new bag of potting soil and while scooping some out into a flower-pot I touched something that did not belong there. At first I thought it was a bone (grisly images in mind), but it turned out to be a rotting piece of garden hose buried inside the bag. Even though it turned out to be garden-related, I found this a little bit disturbing. If there is a section of broken, rotted garden hose in the soil, what else might there be in it? I haven’t even worked my way through the entire bag yet. We had gone out to buy the potting soil that morning and I had waffled about what kind to get (there are so many choices of potting soil….I had no idea). I had second thoughts about maybe buying the Organic Type instead, but the S.O was starting to get annoyed with me after picking up and putting down a number of 40 lb. bags on the cart while I went through my indecision trip. I am famous for my indecision regarding certain purchases, not one of my more admirable traits. But this wasn’t for vegetables, it was for house plants. As the S.O. pointed out with great emphasis, “Dirt is Dirt” and this was the least expensive choice. So this is what we ended up with……impure dirt. Even with dirt I guess you get what you pay for.
But Organic doesn’t necessarily mean immunity from surprises either, because later that very evening I made a salad using organic lettuce that was sealed in one of those plastic containers. I would have to say it was on the expensive side, but being “organic” I figured it was worth it. It’s the kind that is “pre-washed”, which does not guarantee anything and as we know, you should probably wash your lettuce again anyway….. on the package it even suggests you rinse it. But I was in a rush, as it was already getting late for dinner and I could feel the unhappy and somewhat edgy hunger vibes emanating from the S.O. downstairs all the way up to where I had lingered too long at the computer. Therefore, I did the lazy thing and did not post-wash the pre-washed lettuce, but instead just quickly tossed together a large, impromptu and somewhat tasty salad filled with red peppers, carrots (yes, I rinsed these) and sunflower seeds in a balsamic dressing to accompany some pasta with pesto sauce.
Of course he was the one to find the surprise in the salad; an inch and a half long piece of black plastic which resembled a melted length of electrical cord, or perhaps something pulled off the neck of a bottle. Disturbing, and not helpful in any way regarding allaying his crankiness. It didn’t happen, but someone could have choked on that object, whatever it was. And you have to wonder what else could have gotten into that lettuce.
Bad quality control twice in one day, three times in a week. A portend of what? The options when these things happen, depending on the severity: 1) Consider it a loss of a few dollars and forget about it 2) Let the company know the problem, or 3) Do not buy that product again, ever, if you can help it.
Today I contacted the salad company to let them know something was in their lettuce that does not belong. Perhaps a piece of their machinery broke off, or more likely, their workers are eating lunch on the line…. or………what is that thing anyway? I got an immediate but very brief reply “sent from my iPhone” (so it says on the bottom of the email) saying they would look into it and I should go back to the store for a new lettuce. But I felt a little brushed off for some reason. In the old days I think salad coupons would arrive in the mail with a letter of more concern, at the very least. Maybe it was the brevity. Maybe that’s just what happens when your response is “sent from my iPhone”. The new, removed techno-world.
I sent them a couple of photos of the offending substance and the SKU number off their package for good measure. No response. Despite the suggestion that I return to the store of purchase for new lettuce, I don’t know how comfortable I am with buying this particular brand of salad again. Not that anything is immune to contamination, but due to their lack of enthusiastic concern, I think they might have just lost a fan.
The customer service of the past is over, isn’t it? On all fronts, has anyone noticed? As a matter of fact, the only consistently reliable – actually stellar – customer service I have experienced has been from L.L Bean. I could write an entire other essay on how amazing they have been, but that is for another time.
As a follow-up, the used book seller provided a full refund and a lovely email. I will do business with them again. I did not bother with the dirt. And the reminder to stop and wash the lettuce has been reinforced, definitely.