Don’t sweat the little stuff! Yeah, right. What about the big stuff? Welcome to TPgate!
In my original “$5 here, $5 there” Blog entry (12-12-11) I wrote: “Sometimes the little clues are the ‘give-aways’ to larger schemes or signs of the time that come when cultural or economic fault lines are crossed. It is like what Walker Percy wrote in Love in the Ruins. He suspected that ‘the end was near’ but was not sure until one day, while going down an almost empty interstate highway, he noticed a sprig of grass growing in a crack in its concrete surface. Voila!”
Many corporate decisions are made over which the consumer has little or no control like my internet/cable/phone provider, my subscription to Netflix, and monthly charges to use my debit cards as illustrations. Don’t sweat the little stuff! Yeah, right. What about the big stuff?
Then in “$5 here, $5 there Revisited” (6-14-13) I opined how little stuff adds up and gets you by becoming big stuff! The increasing cost of internet/cable/phone service over four years finally hit the tipping point. Enter “Techno Hell,” that six-week saga of converting my internet/cable/phone service from one communication provider to another because the old one was being gobbled up by a competitor. [Maybe just retribution does exist. The gobbler back then was now gobbled up by a new giant corporate gobbler in a “friendly” merger!]
Don’t sweat the little stuff! Baloney! It’s the little stuff that adds up to big stuff and gets you; especially when it’s beyond your control. Is that all it has to be?
No, there’s more to come. The new corporate gobbler on the block had all sorts of customer defections. It even was faced with the local government coming to the aid of its citizens during the renegotiation of the communication providers contract with the city when “better customer satisfaction” was part of the deal. I was so glad to be free of that giant, and so happy with my new provider for 18 months. And then here comes old “$5 more to your bill at the first of the year.” You know, rising cost of programming due to competition from NetFlix and Amazon. What?! At least they were upfront with it.
But not all corporations are so transparent. While listening to NPR on my afternoon walk the other day, I got my first exposure to “TPgate.” That’s right, “Toiletpapergate!” This is so 21st Century. For years the biggest TP controversy for newly weds was over which family practice would be followed in the new household: end of the roll “out” or end of the roll “in” when mounted on the wall holder.” Oh yeah, there were promotional battles over “softness” or “weight” or “sheet count” or “extra large” economy packaging, but nothing like the latest “TPgate” maneuver to paper over hidden cost increases.
First of all, you have to know some basic statistical information about TP. This is small stuff. Did you ever stop to consider that the basic sheet size for TP was 4.5 inches by 4.5 inches for years? Not any longer. It quietly changed a while back to 4.5 inches by 4 inches and then of late to 4 inches by 4 inches. [I have known that 2 by 4 wooden wall studs have not been that luxurious for years.] Also, the size of the cardboard roll in the middle increased in diameter to make up for the reduced overall size giving the impression one was getting the same amount as always.
Was this transformation an environmentally sensitive move? Not really, because of the shrinkage in size, one tended to buy more because it ran out faster. Here’s the big stuff. It’s the corporate way of upping their bottom line by reducing the product without increasing the price. I don’t have my grocery tickets or TP wrappers from one, two or five years ago to verify this myself.
Thursday on my weekly foray to Kroger’s on Senior’s 5% Discount Day I decided to do some field research. There along the paper products aisle I got my eyes opened. My favorite TP greeted me with an adorable Lab puppy inviting me to pick up the big 12-roll bundle of “Ultra ComfortCare — thick & cushiony/epais et douillet–with/avec CleanRipple Texture.” [Ok, so I’m doing a free commercial for Kleenex Cottonelle Toilet Paper/Papier Hygenique! This enough attribution? I did not have to be sold; this is what I was sent after.]
Now to the stats, the seemingly small stuff. In faint lavender print on the clear packaging I get to the bottom line. “12 rolls [I’m leaving out the French] 166 2 ply sheets per roll 4.0 x 3.86 IN, 212.4 SQ. FT.” [What useful purpose is it to me to have the information to figure out that each roll is 62.25 feet long or what practical “application to life” is there in knowing the square footage of the thing?] In bold white letters on a red background I see “12 Double Rolls = 24 Single Rolls.” [Why have they started counting each “ply” as a separate roll when they are intertwined into one? Why don’t they simply say: “It’s twice as thick!”] I am stumped at how to calculate the relevance of these bold declarations much less figure out what it all means!
Then I remembered the NPR report that gave me a possible clue. Could it be a clever diversionary marketing ploy to make me think I am getting more for my money when I am not? That’s the big stuff! How many folks will figure all that out standing in the grocery aisle? Not many. Most go for the Lab pup and pay the price.
Don’t sweat the little stuff! Baloney! It’s the little stuff that adds up to the big stuff and gets you; especially when it’s beyond your control.
By the way, I went for the Lab pup and bought the “12 Double Rolls/Rouleaux . . . avec CleanRipple Texture” for $7.49 less 37 cents for my 5% Senior discount. It was Thursday/Jeudi! Viva la papierhygeniqueporte!
1-30-15 © McAtee & weegems, 2015