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As a parent, I try to be a good role model in how I eat and in the types of choices I make in life. If I can be a good role model more often than not, my hope is that my child will grow up to be an informed person, one who is a critical thinker and have independent thoughts. As a future consumer, I hope she’ll spend her money wisely and share her opinions as she sees fit. After all, it’s partly why she and I created this site, thingsthatwedo.com in the first place.
What does this mean for me as a parent who also happens to try to be an informed consumer?
Well, at thingsthatwedo.com, I let my voice be heard, in a polite and professional manner. I will call companies when their staff or products are exceptionally good or when something falls completely below my expectations. If the company can make the product/good for me and I choose to spend my money on it, then to reciprocate, I owe it to the companies to let them know how they’re doing.
Now, before anyone gets really mad at me, let it be known that I am always courteous and professional. After all, the person on the phone is an employee of the company. Most of the time, I call because of something the company has done really really well. For instance, one time I asked to speak with a manager on the phone because the employee who was helping me was exceptionally polite, friendly, and professional. She went above and beyond what I would have expected and deserved that recognition. However, I’ve also called companies because I felt their product wasn’t worth human consumption.
Case in point, my daughter used to always love eating Nature Path’s Crispy Rice cereal. I refuse to buy the Kellogg’s brand because BHT is used in the packaging. I don’t see a reason to use BHT when other companies don’t need to. Nature Path’s Crispy Rice cereal has always been a staple in our family so the taste is very familiar to us. Well, one weekend, I decided to make rice crispy squares for the bake sale at school and of course, I bought a new box of Nature Path’s Crispy Rice cereal.
After they cooled, we shared a rice crispy square and I ended up throwing away the entire batch of rice crispy squares because I was convinced that I must have burned the marshmallows. They just tasted off. A few days go by and we decide to eat the same cereal for breakfast and my daughter says, “Mommy, the cereal tastes funny.”
The culprit of my disastrous rice crispy squares was the cereal itself! It wasn’t me and my awful baking abilities after all! I tasted the cereal myself and they had an off taste to them. I don’t know what it was, but it was not pleasant. Well, I told my daughter I was going to complain because of how terrible they tasted. I sent the company all the necessary details and a history of our use of the product so that they would understand my observations were based on some merit. The company sent me a coupon for a new free box of cereal but that wasn’t the point of the call. I haven’t even used the coupon yet and I’ve had it for months. My daughter loved that cereal and we haven’t bought it since. Now, it’s the Kashi cereals that she’s most keen on.
When I got the letter in the mail from the company, I let her know and we read the letter together. She was also very happy about the free coupon for new cereal since it meant she’d get to try something new. More importantly though, I hope she’s learning about the value of having your opinion heard. I let her know the company is being responsible for their product so she can learn vicariously about accountability. By no means are these easy lessons to learn but if I can start while she’s small, maybe, some of it will make sense when she gets older and stands by what she believes in too. For now, it may just be about food but one day, it may be about other things too.
Things to do: share your opinions with others, make objective valid points, and always do it professionally!
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