Flick My Bic

Last week, I sent the following message to JR Cigars, with which I have been conducting business for about 30 years:

Gentlemen:

Re: Customer ID  XXXXXXX; Order #XXXXXXX

This order shipped Wednesday 1/5 and arrived today (1/6).  Thank you.

Included was a complimentary Macanudo lighter.  Frequently, over the years, you have generously included similar items like this one.  In fact, I still have 3 lighters from you that came as complimentary gifts.  None works any more.  They usually stop functioning in a matter of a few months.  The only reason I keep them is I fret about tossing a fuel-filled device into the trash, and I don’t know how to empty them.

So even as I was unwrapping and fueling up this new one, I wondered aloud to my wife how long it would be before it failed.  I’m pleased to tell you that I already know the answer: this one is D.O.A.

I’m not complaining.  What kind of shmuck complains about for something he gets for free? (Actually, this is south Florida. LOTS of complainers.  LOTS of shmucks.)  I just want to know why JR, an efficient, first-class operation, continues to package and ship annoying crap like this side by side with its excellent product.  What’s the strategy here?

We keep lighters around for reasons other than firing up tobacco products: in this climate, matches are unreliable, and a source of fire during hurricane season is vital.  So far, the most dependable lighters we can find are those cheapy disposables.  They last for a while, you can see when they’re running low, and they store easily.  It might be nice to have a dressier unit, and I could easily buy one somewhere, but with a drawer full of duds I’m reluctant to make the effort.

I doubt I’m the only one who’s had this experience, which got me thinking.  I respectfully suggest that you scrap fancy, cigar brand-name lighters and replace them with a 5-pack of disposables.  It would be consistent with your value-oriented philosophy – call them “JR Alternatives,” if you like – and make your customers even happier than they are already.

Just a thought.  Happy new Year.

The “JR Alternatives” reference points to JR’s long-standing marketing policy of offering “less expensive alternatives of equal quality” to high-priced brand name cigars.  I don’t know any body who is fooled by this — the Alternatives” often taste like wrapped sawdust and toad load — but evidently it sells a lot of product.

Anyway, there’s been no reply to date, and I don’t expect one.  While that doesn’t cost me any more than the free non-functional lighter, it’s more disappointing.

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4 Responses to Flick My Bic

  1. Mister E says:

    Save the planet. Just rub two sticks together. That’s what Al Gore would do.

  2. Al Gore says:

    Mister E you’re dead wrong. Where are you gonna get two sticks to rub together without harming a tree, fer christ’s sake? No Squats, you have to find a supply of flint and a couple of hard (huh, I said hard) rocks to make sparks fly. Happy lighting.

  3. Sarah Palin says:

    Why don’t you put a map up on your blog with merchants you dislike, and put cross-hairs over each? “Target Bad Service” would be a good name. Encourage people to write in an suggest others, which you could add. People out there are really upset over things like this, so you’d have a real popular feature.

    First one I’d add is Congress, then the post office. But that’s just me.

  4. Joe Balls says:

    Did you ever get a response from JR about this?

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