Sunday, April 27, 2008

Water Bottle Update: Out with Nalgene, In with Klean Kanteen

A few weeks ago I blogged about my frustration with Nalgene over it's BPA laced bottles. Allow me to update you with recent events...

Shortly after blogging this irate post, I received an email from a source connected with Nalgene (whose name and affiliation shall remain anonymous). Here's the gyst of the email they sent me and my response:

1. For starters, I inadvertently posted misinformation that there was no information about BPAs on their site. I completely missed this page, which has various links to reports and studies on the effects of BPAs on humans. My apologies.

2. Subsequently, I looked over the information which curiously all slanted to say that there are no significant health problems associated with BPAs on humans. I find this strange as Consumer Reports gave a pretty clear view that 38 experts from around the world colloborated to find that exposure to BPA at levels typcial in the US did increase the rate of breast and prostate cancer, and more. Nalgene seems to have chosen not to mention this. My feeling is that if the concern is out there and that SOMEBODY, SOMEWHERE has stated that your products may be harmful in some way, you need to address that, and I don't see that effort being taken on their site to do this.

3. Back to the email... the sender wrote, in essence, that Nalgene would never sell products that they didn't feel were safe, but if somebody did have concerns over the BPA issue, Nalgene offers non-BPA products, and this person proceeded to send me jpg photos of the bottles and a link to the site where I can find the bottle that's right for me. My opinion: too little, too late, too pushy. I'm an angry customer having been potentially exposed to a dangerous product... now's not the time to push something my way.

4. Subsequently, after I replied to the email (and having heard no response), I went out and bought a Klean Kanteen stainless steel bottle. Here's my review with pros and cons of my new bottle...

-Stainless steel gets cold FAST and seems to keep the temperature pretty well
-Easy to wash in the dishwasher
-Looks sharp
-Not too heavy
-Safe from any potential plastic issues (if somebody comes out and says stainless steel may be dangerous, then I simply give up!)

-Not a big fan of the lid... I bought a bottle with a "sports cap" and the water does not flow smoothly. Too much suction or something. Rather annoying as that is the prime purpose of a water bottle. I may have to try another cap if possible.
-Can't see through as to how much is left, but not a big deal.
-A bit heavier than Nalgene bottles.
-More expensive than Nalgene.

In sum, I do like my new bottle but it's not quite ideal. Quite frankly, I do prefer the design and benefits of the Nalgene bottles over Klean Kanteens, but the Klean Kanteen bottle is a pretty good alternative. Ultimately, if it benefits my health in the long run, I'm all for using the Klean Kanteen.

Thanks and drink up...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Comcast's Curious Display of Showing Its Concern

Editor's note: this post has no connection with today's article in the Philadelphia Inquirer about how Comcast is monitoring blogs now to try and help boost its customer service ratings. I meant to write about this a few days ago but just got around to it now.

Here's my story:

About a month ago, I called up to ask for a Comcast service technician to come out and replace one of our cable boxes because I had various small annoyances with it, which I won't go into detail here. They promptly and amicably took care of it by giving us a new box for free. Good stuff.

A couple weeks after that, Comcast sent a greeting card-sized mailer to me that apologized for the problems I had and gave me a voucher for a free On-Demand movie. Good stuff.

Then this past week I received another greeting card-sized mailer, which again apologized for the inconvenience and this time sent me a coupon for $10 off any purchase of $50 or more at Huh?

So let me get this straight.. for their technical difficulties, I should go out and spend money just to take advantage of a small discount? Thanks for that generosity... I think I'll go ahead and save my money instead.

Here are other variations I would have strongly considered to be sensible compared to this silly offer:

A. $10 voucher for my purchase of anything on
B. $10 voucher if I submitted an opinion survey about my experience with Comcast
C. $10 voucher, in some form or another, where I don't HAVE to spend money in order to get value from it

To me, this whole concept of giving an inconvenience customer a $10 voucher for a $50purchase is a good idea gone sadly wrong. Instead of making a positive customer "touch", they're making this into a blatant sales ploy, but with poor timing at that because before I was just mildly irked about the inconvenience, whereas now I'm steadily creeping up to disgruntled.

So my voucher goes in the recycling bin along with every other inadequate marketing junk mail I receive...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Fundraisers: The New Night Out

In the past year or so, I've been invited to, heard of, and/or attended charitable funraising functions that centered around the following acts of entertainment:

-beef 'n beer
-comedy shows
-famous speakers
-sporting events

And that's just a list off the top of my head.

It's becoming quite apparent that the average "night out" is moving away from a casual, loosely planned night out with friends, to an evening arranged well in advance with detailed activities and lots of people gathering to support the same cause. This is a direct result of more involved non-profit marketing, as well as a desire for people to feel a part of something, but also a way to change things up a little bit from the norm.

So for example, instead of making last minute arrangements to go out with my wife and a few other friends to dinner and then to somebody's house to hang out or what have you, I now find many days getting booked well in advance to attend a festivity of some sort that probably will cost us more than a casual night out, but will give us the nice feeling that some of that money is going to a good cause.

All in all I guess it's a good thing to be able to support so many different charitable endeavors and have some fun simultaneously, but at the same time I feel as though I'm losing some of my freedom to be able to do what I/we want rather than having to follow somebody else's schedule of what they think I want.

And now a new thing is for charities to request that you donate money for a "non-event", where you save the money and just spend time at home with your family instead. Novel idea, but that's basically just a voluntary donation with a little PR spin on it. But it ironically reflects on the fact that so many people are inundated with so many event invitations that it's kind of a clever way to ask people to not have to worry about going to another fundraiser, but rather just give the money in lieu of the whole event.

Ultimately, I'm curious to see where this trend goes. After a while, if people get too saturated with fundraiser event invitations, they'll just stop going altogether... kind of like how I feel when I walk down the cereal aisle at the supermarket. Too many choices makes life too complicated, and you just wind up going back to the same 2-3 options everytime because you just don't have the time or energy to analyze them all and decide which one to splurge on.

And such is the way with today's night out at a fundraising event. Now pardon me while I check my schedule to see when I'm booked and when I can just hang out...

Friday, April 4, 2008

Irate with Nalgene... Something I Never Thought I'd Say

For over 5 years now, I have been bringing bottles of water to work and drinking from them throughout the day. Specifically, I bring Nalgene bottles and fill them up with water from my fridge. I use these Nalgene bottles because they are incredibly sturdy, easy to clean, save me tons of money compared to buying bottled water, and help save the environment because I'm not consuming wasteful, plastic bottles everyday. They've been great for me. But now I'm absolutely petrified of them.

Today I read in Consumer Reports a descriptive article pertaining to the potential dangers of B.P.A.-- a type of plastic that is used to make these Nalgene bottles. I can't find this particular article online yet, but the Consumerist ran a helpful piece, as did this blog post which really rings true with me, and this article echoes this growing concern of mine... and hopefully yours as well.

This society we live in where we perpetually produce new products, and THEN LATER find out they are harmful has got to stop. It's positively scary what we're doing to our Earth and ourselves, and reading an article about a product that was previously considered to be innocuous really disturbs me. Especially when I used one every freaking day of the work week.

The average lay person like myself would never know the difference between a "good" plastic and a "bad" plastic, and now I feel completely used and ignorant because I would never have had any idea about the problem with BPAs had I not read this article. Nalgene has really made me irate.

Sadly, nowhere on their site does Nalgene even attempt to address this issue, which is poor public relations to me. Nor do they make any attempt at offering refunds or exchanges for people who bought these types of bottles. Not only that, there's no humanoid listed that I could even write to, just a department name or a generic email address, both of which will probably wind up in their respective trash bins. But I'll still give them a piece of my mind, and hey, I just griped with the world about my concerns right, so that's a start.

My next thing to do is find a new SAFE water bottle...