• Carmen Marie Fabio

Can’t complain

My last column dealt with chocolate or, more specifically, the ‘problem’ of having too much chocolate, not knowing what to do with it and deciding to foist it off onto my coworkers.

In writing that column, I had a closer look at the box of the 64 little liquor-filled, foil-wrapped, bottle-shaped chocolates and discovered that instead of the promised eight flavours, the manufacturer had mistakenly duplicated one row, giving me double the amount of Jim Beam and Cointreau whilst depriving me of the tequila and the coffee liqueur. Scandalous.

Luckily (depending on your perspective) I come from a long line of complainers and if I find a product I bought doesn’t deliver on its promise, I take pen to paper – or keystrokes to contact forms.

I can’t help it, it’s genetic.

When I was a very young kid, my mom discovered a small twig-like thing in a jar of either mayonnaise or sandwich spread and contacted the company. Within a few weeks, a package arrived at the door containing a wide assortment of products this conglomerate manufactured. Needless to say, as kids we were duly impressed. So much so that a few months later when my brother discovered bugs in a long-forgotten box of rice in the cupboard, he sat down and penned his own letter to the company, replete with a dead bug Scotch taped to the page with the addendum, “I hope he/she doesn’t die by the time you get him/her.” My mother thought it was so adorable she never mailed the letter.

My father, the engineer, would not only write letters to companies, he would include mechanical drawings on how they could improve their respective products.

Over the years, I’ve complained about a number of purchases, always constructively and politely, and have gleaned myriad responses. When I was a smoker and discovered poorly constructed cigarettes in half my pack, the company sent me a complimentary carton, packaged in a gold box no less.

A meal moth larva found in my breakfast cereal resulted in a free box which was kind of a waste as I lost my taste for the stuff immediately.

The lid on my blender that got sucked into (and destroyed by) the hot soup I was pureeing was cheerfully replaced though I was somewhat embarrassed by the customer service rep’s laughter.

I’ve gotten free deodorant to replace the one I discovered was all dried and crumbled when I opened it up, free soap when I found a third of the bar was missing due to a large air bubble, free sanding discs when a bunch of them were defective, and reimbursed for frozen cabbage rolls that tasted, quite frankly, like dog food. “Not that I know what dog food tastes like!” I hastened to tell the company.

I once even managed to convince a soup company to reinstate distribution of their Old Fashioned Tomato Rice flavour by having my friends join me in an email campaign to their customer service department.

Some gripes fall on deaf ears as I never heard back from the sugarless gum people for their cardboard-flavoured product or the cosmetics company for their misaligned eyebrow tweezers.

But I must tip my hat this week to the chocolate booze bottle people in Denmark who responded to my missing tequila and coffee liqueur confectionery by immediately shipping me a courtesy package containing a large assortment of their products with flavours including margarita, mojito, cosmopolitan, strawberry daiquiri; French, Cuban, Mexican, and Irish Coffee; Drambuie, Grand Marnier, four kinds of vodka, cognac, Galliano, and even Wild Turkey. And I thought I had too much chocolate two weeks ago.

I imagine there’s a life lesson to be gleaned here but if an excess of chocolate is the result, I really have nothing to complain about.