September 27, 2014 • By Dennis Beaver
“Mr. Beaver, you are probably going to think this is a joke,” began a phone call from a Central California reader, “but believe me, it is not. We were in an Albertson’s market in the Los Angeles area and saw a new kind of toilet paper made from bamboo on sale for a low, introductory price of $5.99 for 12 mega rolls, 400 two ply sheets. It is called Sensational Bamboo.
“The package describes the paper as ‘Soft and Elegant Premium Bath Tissue, tree-free, from highly sustainable environmentally-friendly bamboo-based resources, making it a more eco-friendly and sustainable alternative to trees.’
“We had never heard of toilet paper made from bamboo, so right there in the store with our three children, we researched the item and learned that bamboo can replace cotton and wood for many consumer uses.
“As environmentally aware high school teachers, we instill this concept in our children, and like the idea of bathroom tissue from a renewable source. With the really attractive price–about half of what you would usually pay for the same quantity–we purchased several packages, went home and replaced all of our toilet paper rolls with the bamboo product, and then, uh, waited until morning to give it a test.
“Our kids are 8, 12 and 14, usually up well before me and my husband, and they are very considerate, rarely making noise. However, that was not the case the next morning, when I was awoken by Tracie, our 8-year-old, who yelled, ‘Mom, yuck! It hurts!’
“So, we ran to the bathroom and found lengths of toilet paper on the floor all torn in an odd way, as if someone was trying to shred the sheets. We asked Tracie what was wrong, and was she making a mess with the toilet paper?
“No mom, I wasn’t, but it didn’t tear right, and it is not very soft,” she replied.
“By this time, our other kids were all up, and they had the same comments, that the paper didn’t tear the way other toilet paper does, and wasn’t very soft.
“When it was time for us to test this new Soft and Elegant Bath Tissue, we had the same experience. While not sandpaper, it was inferior to major brands and did not tear properly. As you watch out for the consumer, we thought this could be interesting.”
Flushing out the facts
The only other time we wrote about toilet paper was years ago when readers raised a stink about Costco selling what appeared to be waterproof toilet paper — coated with too much manufacturing wax, refusing to get wet.
To flush out the facts and verify our reader’s complaint, we purchased a 12-pack of Sensational Bamboo bath tissue and, had the same, less than sensational results. Premium bath tissue it is not. While at this price it is acceptable, still the paper isn’t terribly soft and does not tear on the perforations, which explains 8 year old Tracie’s reaction.
Clearly on a roll, we phoned the manufacturer, Green Hygenics, based in Cape Coral, Florida, spoke with office manager Michelle, and were blown away by her openness and honesty.
“Yes, we have problems with the paper shredding and not tearing correctly due to poor perforations,” she told us. “Also, what you purchased is not as soft as earlier production runs. While the initial product run was done correctly, some of what Albertson’s, is selling now is not to the quality standards we expect,” she acknowledged.
“So what happened?” we asked.
Fox guarding the chicken coop
Her answer is a textbook reason why oversight in any business is so critical, and we will bet that Sensational Bamboo will become a case study for business administration majors.
It is the perfect example of what happens when you let the fox guard the chicken coop — and proof of just how correct President Ronald Reagan was, when negotiating with the Russians over nuclear weapons, stated, ‘Trust but verify.’ ”
“We contract manufacturing of our paper to a company in China,” Michelle explained.
“We trusted their quality control supervisor to watch out for us. That did not happen and now we have our own person on site. Also, we are greatly improving the product and in a few months it will be much softer and will tear correctly,” she pointed out.
“Albertson’s is aware of the problem and will refund the purchase price to any dissatisfied customer,” she added.
Would we buy it again?
The kind of honesty shown by Michelle merits the reward of a second chance, in our opinion. Yes, we would absolutely buy their bath tissue again, and will, in a few months.
You might say this was not a total wipe out!
Dennis Beaver practices law in Bakersfield and enjoys hearing from his readers. Contact Dennis Beaver.