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Anne Matthews of Pretoria kept an old 3kg pack of BioClassic washing powder – manufactured in March – and when she compared it to the next one she bought, bearing a manufacture date of July 2011, she discovered something strange.
The recommended number of scoops required for a typical normal load “light-soil” wash had doubled, and tripled in the case of twin-tub machines – from one scoop to two for front-loading machines, and from one to three scoops in the twin tubs.
Even stranger was that both 3kg packs carried a prominent “flash” claiming that the contents were enough for 120 normal, light-soil washes.
“Now if one uses simple logic,” Matthews said, “I should only have got half the number of washes out of the second box, as I was being advised to use double the amount of powder.”
This being a Tiger Brands product, she called that company’s consumer line for an explanation, but was simply told to use the dosage that best suited her.
Understandably dissatisfied, she resolved not to buy the product again, and recounted the story to Consumer Alert.
I asked Tiger Brands for an explanation, and the one I got initially didn’t make much sense to me, either.
The dosage instructions had indeed been amended, I was told, based on “controlled testing of clothes washing loads”.
And the 3kg box would indeed deliver 120 washes, I was assured.
So I went back to Tiger Brands pointing out that the numbers don’t add up.
“How can the increased dosage lead to the same number of washes from the same amount of washing powder?” I asked.
“Why was the dosage increased? Was the product reformulated to be ‘weaker’?”
Finally, I got the full story from Tiger Brands.
The company had discovered that its 3kg and 5kg “buck-et” packs produced before February last year had carried incorrect dosage instructions.
“This was immediately corrected, and the 3kg and 5kg buckets produced after February 2011 carry the correct dosage instructions.
“But at the changeover of labels, stock was not withdrawn from the trade, as only limited stock remained available.
“Therefore there may have been some old labels in the trade at the time that Anne Matthews purchased her tub in March last year.”
Of course, Matthews’s first pack was manufactured in March, supposedly after the problem was rectified, but I let that go…
The point is that that information should have been made available to the company’s customer care people, who no doubt fielded other calls from BioClassic users wanting to know why the recommended dose had apparently doubled.
And it should have been made available to the company spokesman the first time she raised my media query with the “technical people”.
Mistakes happen. And when they do, all that’s required is for the problem to be put right, with open, honest communication about what happened.