Cousin It and the Bodum Experience
Recently I bought a Vacuum thermal mug from Bodum. It was supposed to be a present for Alin, who quite needs it at the moment. I was very excited, but I quickly got very disappointed. The cup leaks horribly. I tried to replace it at the store, but given the fact that I had thrown away the receipt (not clever, I know, but how was I to think that such a nice brand would make such faulty products), they didn’t care to help me. So, quite hopeless, I wrote to Bodum on Facebook. I will show the message exchange here, because I think this is how a respectable brand should interact with their clients.
No, they haven’t paid me for this post, except that they replaced my mug. This, my friends, is good PR.
Me: “Hello, I have recently purchased a thermos from you and I am completely unhappy with the product. It leaks badly. I had a cheap one before, but not even that one leaked. So I am wondering, what is it that your product brings beside a minus of money in my pocket and a bad quality? I am very very sad because this thermos was supposed to be a present for my boyfriend who is commuting a lot and I was very excited. Cheers.”
Bodum:”Dear Oana, Thank you for your message. We are really sorry to hear about the problem that you have been having, and thank you for bringing it to our attention. Could you please specify from where it leaks? I would advise you to always keep the mug upright. Due to safety reason, the mug is not leakproof because of possible over pressure. Kind regards.”
Me: “Hello, it leaks from the latch that opens for drinking. I am wondering how would you advertise such a thermal cup for traveling since it can spill when it’s knocked over? Isn’t this risk implied in the traveling part? I strongly doubt your marketing team made the bad judgement and called an on-purpose-leaking product Vacuum. I understand the cup cannot be completely isolated from the exterior, but I know there are ways for allowing gas exchange with the exterior without letting liquid getting out (being an engineer myself).
In case you don’t know how to allow for the gas exchange (air, CO2 or whatever), but not allow for the liquid to get out (coffee, water, etc), hire some engineers who will compute the diameter of some holes you can poke in the plastic lid. Assuming the liquid is water like and the gas is air, you need to know the volume of the cup on the interior to compute the force it would use to press on the lid in case it would spill.
You also know the water surface tension, γ.
γ = F / d, where F is force.
From there you can compute the d, which is the diameter of the hole you can poke in the lid to allow for gas exchange, and hence avoid all the safety problems you are invoking, while not letting the liquid in the can to get out.
As a conclusion, all points out to a faulty product. Even your question “Could you please specify from where it leaks?” does the same. Had Bodum made this product to leak on purpose, you would have known where it leaks from. In this case, it would be very nice to at least get my money back on this horrid product. If not for it, but maybe for the free advice I gave you and the short physics lesson I gave you in such an inhospitable environment as Facebook. Given another space my presentation would have been much nicer. Cheers!”
Bodum: “Dear Oana, Thank you for your reply. You can’t read in any of my words, that this wasn’t a fault or that we do not replace faulty products. The reason I’ve asked you from where it leaks was exactly to understand the source of this fault, and act accordingly. The instructions were given, only to a better use of this mug, you can find it on the website. If it isn’t to much trouble, could you please provide a proof of purchase, your full address and your phone number? Kind regards.”
Me: “Hello, The proof of purchase is a bit tricky to get because I bought it as a present before Christmas for my boyfriend and knowing your products are usually decent, I threw away the receipt. And unfortunately I also paid cash. But I went to the store where I bought it from and explained the problem there and they might remember me. Now it really depends if you just tae my word for it or hide behind this reason not to refund me. I could tell you exactly the name of the store, its address and the fact that I bought a set with a coffee plunger and a travelling cup with the thermal cup as well. All of these I can provide… Should I go on? Cheers!”
Bodum: “Dear Oana, Thank you for your reply. Would you be so kind to send us your faulty mug as we need to find out what is causing this problem. To this address: XXXXX. We are going to provide a replacement right away, although we cannot guarantee that the colour will be the same as we can be out of stock. Could you please tell me your full address and your phone number? Kind regards.”
Me: “Hello, It is starting to become a pleasure to talk to you. My address is XXXX. My phone number is YYYY. I will send you the can tomorrow and it will probably take a few days to get to you. Thank you. As for the colour, make it pink as far as I care, my boyfriend wouldn’t mind. He has a high sense of self. 🙂 Oana”
Bodum: “Dear Oana, We are always happy to help. Unfortunately we do not have pink in stock, is purple ok with you? Kind regards.
Me: “Hello. Purple is also fine. The colour doesn’t matter, really. It should not pour like a waterfall, that’s what’s important. Thank you. Have a great day!
Bodum: “Dear Oana, Thank you for your reply. You should receive your new travel mug within weeks. Kind regards.”
The new purple thermal mug also leaks. I haven’t sent the old one back, since the costs for it would be too much. Now I have two leaking thermoses and a nice PR experience behind me.
PS – The pictures shows Cousin It holding the two thermal cups.