Friday, February 11, 2011

New & Improved? No Thanks!

I inherited my gramma's paper-thin Irish and very sensitive skin. I went from being an oily-skinned adolescent into dry and flakey woman at the age of 21 years. And I discovered that most of the commerically prepared lotions, perfumes, soaps, other toiletries, and cosmetics would irritate my skin. I've spent a lot of money, trying one brand or type after another. 

About 4--maybe 5 years ago, a couple of friends implored me to try Burt's Bees for a couple of years but I was--to say the least--skeptical.  They begged me to try it--mainly because they were tired of hearing me complain about another product irritating my skin. They told me to look at the ingredients and see the short list--which is always a good sign. It means that the product hasn't been so adulterated that it's no longer "natural." My husband picked up a trial sample kit for me to check out. His thinking was that if it didn't work, we would not be out a lot of money. That's logical, no?

I fell in love with Burt's Bees Naturally Nourishing Milk & Honey Body Lotion! It was the first lotion that didn't make my skin red, itch, or dry it out faster than I could put it on, or make my skin burn. I was hooked. I used it for my facial lotion, my body lotion, after sunburn care, and after gardening care. I used it religiously. I LOVED it. I started using other Burt's Bees products solely based on that lotion. I told everyone about it and even bought it as gifts. 

Last fall, I ran out and went to purchase a fresh bottle at my favorite local store. They didn't have any on the shelf, but cheerfully ordered it for me. When the new tube came in, it didn't look like my regular lotion.  When I questioned the store clerks, they said that Burt's Bees was just changing their packaging. Assured I took it home and set it in the bathroom to use at the next morning. 

Well, it did not smell like my beloved lotion. It kind of reminded my son's gym clothes..after they've been sitting in the locker for a month. And I discovered shortly after putting it on, I was red again and ITCHING! The itching drove me nuts! Looking at the ingredients list, I realized this was NOT my old lotion in a new package--it was a completely different product. This made me a bit angry because the company name--Burt's Bees--was synonymous with TRUST. I trust their products, I trust their name. 

I did what most of us do...I went to the company website and wrote a review.  And yes, it was a negative review for this so-called new and improved product.

Let me ask you something...Do corporations really think that the American people are that stupid to fall for something that is "New! and IMPROVED!" ??? How can a product be both new AND improved?  Is this a sign of our failing education system? Or should we the people put Bill Engvall's signs on Corporate America?  This is one of those topics my high school speech and debate team would have tore to shreds. With ease. 

So moving right along, I did find my beloved lotion elsewhere but realized it was getting harder and harder to find it. This week I received a package, containing three tubes of the "New and Improved" lotions. Delivered to my door by FedEx. At first, I thought my husband had ordered them for me and I tried to get them exchanged.  When I finally was able to get ahold of my husband, he confirmed that he didn't order them for me because I can't use that new lotion. He did not order them for me.

Finally, I read the insert and realized because I had complained, the company sent me the tubes. Yeah--that's what I said...In their corporate expertise and wisdom, they sent me the very lotion I had complained about on their review. It's the same formula/ingredients of the lotion that turned me red and made my skin itch like crazy for hours, but gee...let's have her try a different scent. That will convince her!

I called the company. Oh yes I did. How could I resist a challenge after they threw the gauntlet (in the form of three free tubes of the stuff I couldn't use in the first place!) down in front of me??? You may be a stronger person than I, but I truly could not resist this!

After a lengthy explanation with the company rep, here's the shortened version of it. 

ME: When I wrote that review--I said I couldn't use the "new and improved" product--that it made my skin itch badly and turned it red. So why would you send me the very product I can't use???
COMPANY REP: We wanted to give you a second chance and try our other formulas to see if any of them work for you.
ME: They all have the same ingredients as the one I can't use. This makes no sense to me...
COMPANY REP: But they have different scents. 
ME:  But contain the ingredients that still make me itch and turn red. Are you listening to me? I want the old formula. It's available on your website--why can't I find it in the stores?
COMPANY REP: We are discontinuing the old formula and completely switching over to the new ones. Once the old formula is gone, it's gone. There will not be any more. You'll have to deal with it.
ME: (Snarkily) Ok...fine. I get it. You have a proven formula and judging by your customer reviews on your own website--most people want. But no--you're going to get rid of what works and make this so called "new and improved" which I find to be completely oxymoronic--your line. The one that most people can't use or hate. 
COMPANY REP:  Cathryn--this is a lesson for you. We cannot get too attached to the products we like. 
ME: *Blinking at that* We can't? Hmmmmmmmmm...OK, while I ponder on that last statement of yours...I don't want your complimentary gift. I want to send it back.
COMPANY REP: Oh we don't want it back! Throw it away if you want, but WE DON'T WANT IT BACK.
ME: Wow...even you all know how bad this product is.

So now I'm facing the realization that Burt's Bees is no longer to be a company I can trust. They no longer care about their customers. If you visit their website, you will see that 95% (based on their numbers) of their customer LOVE the old formula, while only 23% like their new formula. But the company CEOs aren't listening to their customers because they know what's best or they don't care.  

I'm already scouting other possible replacements on Etsy and other handcrafted sites.

I'm mourning the loss of an excellent company and the loss of an excellent product.  I'm grieving over the issue that this company seems past caring about the very customers who made it what it is. And I'm angry that another corporation has swallowed the WalMart line of profits first and profits only.  

And like other devoted and loyal Burt's Bees customers, I'll buy up what I can of the old lotion. Because, like the company representitive told me, once it's gone, it's gone.  And like she told me...we can't get too attached to products that work. Someone will taketh it away...



  1. Sounds just like the story of Etsy! Too bad, I liked BB stuff, too. I never would have thought they'd get some uppity that the customer wouldn't matter.

  2. "we cannot get too attached to products we like"- W T F? SO, brand loyalty isn't important? I'm sorry you lost a fave product, it really does stink when that happens(Johnson Baby Cream for me yrs ago) & from Burt's Bees no less =(

  3. here's my thought..they've switched to cheaper ingredients and are passing it off as new improved..i used Dr Bronner soaps for decades..same deal..changed the "been like this Forever" formula to something Less than..not the same guys..might make more profit but we your loyal customers are not happy..
    i guess you should look around for a smaller more hands on company..maybe an etsy one that has the same ingredients as your beloved lotion.

  4. Oh how sad I too loved Burts Bees...strangely this sounds just like what happened to the Etsy forums? Coincidence??? ...are they pumping crack into coporate board rooms these days??? What's going on here???

  5. BTW Lost River Rags on Etsy makes some fantastic lotion - I have psoriasis and her soap and lotion don't bother me a bit. She will send samples too!

  6. Today's CEOs really could care less about their customer base, all they want is our money. Does it really take a rocket scientist to figure out that if people do not like a new product they are not going to buy it? Therefore the bottom drops out of that "bottom line", which is to make mega bucks. But in this crazy day and age big CEOs ruin a good company and instead of getting reprimanded they get a great big multi million dollar bonus. Crazy, crazy, crazy world !!!

  7. So sorry you have to deal with all of that, Cathryn. I laughed when I read LanyardLady's comment because the Etsy situation is what I first thought of when you first mentioned this. Yes, I have tried Lost River Rags' products and they are very good. I hope you find a good replacement, my friend!

  8. i'm w you. if you still have an original bottle maybe an etsy store could make some for you.

  9. Putting customers first? Not this company. I cross my fingers that you will find some more of the not "improved" formula. Greetings, Inge

  10. According to Wikipedia, Burt's Bees was bought out by Clorox in 2007. But no matter who the owner, what horrible (and poorly trained!) customer service! I can't believe the guy actually said that to you... Either they went to a cheaper-to-make formula, or they think for some reason they can sell more of the new and "improved" version. In any case, obviously they've decided they don't care about the old and very loyal Burt's Bees fan base. Hope you're able to find something else that works for you!

  11. Unbelievable!!!!

    Wonder if we still have the older type for sale here - if I find some I'll get it fir you :) Is it the one with the cow on the front?

    Let me know.

  12. Funny you should mention Etsy. I just stopped buying on Etsy because they've decided that the site should be "new and improved" and opted me in to an e-amil sharing scheme after I specifically told them not to. Love handmade and will always support it, but I do so elsewhere now.

    Thankfully most of my favorite Etsy artists have already opened shops elsewhere for the same reason I'm shopping elsewhere.

    Have you tried Aveeno daily moisturizing formula? It was recommended to me by two people with eczema, and all of the people I know with sensitive skin love it. Aveeno Etsy or elsewhere, I just hope you find something that works!

  13. I'm thinking I'd do a little research and find out the name of the CEO. Then send him/her a letter outlining exactly what happened when you spoke with their company representative. Whatever happened to the old adage, "The customer is always right"?

  14. Cathryn-
    Did you have any luck finding it elsewhere? We have the old bottle in stock at my store!!!!

  15. Goodness me!! I can't imagine tackling someting like this head on like you have - good for you! It's not really the Scottish way....well done you! I just tried to email you but thankfully noticed the no-reply address before I sent it out ;-) Here's what I wrote...

    Cathryn, I'm astounded and impressed that you don't have a mobile phone! I cannot imagine life without it now....I've had one since I was 19 (2000) and now have an iphone, complete with email and internet on the move (it's a pretty crappy connection but it's there if I really need it!!). As a freelance musician, you really need a phone but well done to you for holding out!!

    I've decided to give everyone who left a name suggestion a wee present as a thank-you, so if you email me out your address to andersonrebecca[@]mac[dot]com, then I will get some beads in the post to you!

    Rebecca x

    PS Love the idea of naming a collection the Heralds of Spring! Great idea!!

    On 13 Feb 2011, at 15:41, Cathryn wrote:

    Cathryn has left a new comment on your post "Messing around with Picnik":

    I absolutely loved that last piece--and kept thinking of The Harolds of Spring! Of course when I thought about it, I realized that could be for all three pieces--the Harolds of Spring Collection! lol

    I am pretty good on a computer and with my camera--but I cannot use a cell phone. I don't have one and don't plan on getting one either. I'd be so lost--I still haven't figured out how to load up music to my FUZE MP3 player! lol

    Posted by Cathryn to Songbeads at 13 February 2011 15:41