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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Post #61 - Hidden Valley Ranch Squirter Fiasco




This has been a pet peeve of mine for years. I did it once a while back. My son did this a few weeks back. The 36 ounce Hidden Valley Ranch has the squirter, so you aim the bottle vertically at its target. Then, if you use the 16 ounce bottle in the same way, you have an "aval-ranch". No squirter, just piles and piles of dressing.  I sent this on 10/5/2009:

Dear Hidden Valley Ranch,

In college, I gave a speech about diversity. I used a delicious salad as my example. A salad comprised of only iceberg lettuce is really the most boring salad ever. You throw some cucumber in, maybe some green, yellow, and red bell pepper, Vidalia onion, garden tomato, zesty croutons, now you’re talking! Each part of the salad comes from a different place, and each brings its own flavor. In my example, the Hidden Valley Ranch symbolized racial harmony.

I unveiled a giant salad, and invited everyone to the front of the room. People of every race, color and creed marched to the front of the auditorium met at the front of the room and we enjoyed a salad social for the rest of the class. My professor, livid for having lost control of her classroom, started yelling at me. “How dare you?” I said “You asked me to give a speech about racial harmony. Look around you!” A Plus!

I always buy the 36 ouncer. I am a creature of habit (we all are). I remove the lid, tip the bottle vertical, and delicately drizzle my greens, fries, sandwich contents, or whatever I please. This is, after all, America.

Yesterday, my proverbial salad social had too much racial harmony. I was at the home of my future in-laws. They own the 16 ounce bottle. I removed the cap, tipped the bottle vertical, and delicately…COVERED MY ENTIRE SALAD WITH RANCH. I’ve always been accustomed to the squirter opening. Controlled flow. This bottle, and three others that I bought at separate stores, is missing the squirter. In hindsight, I’ve seen people do this over the years, and always snickered at them. Well now I’m the joke, and I don’t like it.

I ate the salad anyway, and I haven’t been right since. I can’t even look at Hidden Valley Ranch anymore. Now my in-laws are saying things to Connie like “Don’t marry that putz!”

Am I really the first person to bring this to your attention? What marketing genius decided to have different openings on different bottles? Do you see automakers swapping the brake and accelerator pedals? No--people are creatures of habit. Was this one of those bean counter decisions?
-Save $0.02 per bottle by not using the squirter.
-Squirter test population uses an average of 0.8 ounces per application
-Non-squirter test population uses an average of 1.2 ounces per application
-Squirters who use the Non-Squirter bottle use an average of 8 ounces per application

That little trick probably generates $1.2 billion in additional revenue.

Well, count me out. Me who named my three labra-doodles Hidden, Valley, and Ranch. Me, who wears a shirt with “I love Hidden Valley Ranch and I Don’t Care Who Knows It” in black magic marker. Me, the pathetic guy with the “HVRnch1” vanity plate. I’m going to the store right now, and picking out my new “go-to” dressing. It may even be that disgusting-looking “Green Goddess” dressing.

I’m afraid I’m going to need a written explanation. Why? Make a commitment—either all squirter, or all standard opening. Then, give us all 6 months to adapt, and life will once more be grand.

Sincerely,

Jerry

P.S. – I did thorough research on this—the 36 ounce squirter fitting does indeed fit in the 16 ounce bottle. If you really wanted to protect your customers, you could.
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Sent 10/27/2009

Dear Hidden Valley Ranch,

I sent you a note on October 5th about a product issue that I have experienced with your salad dressings. I feel that this is a legitimate beef. You should put the squirter nozzle on all of your plastic dressing bottles, to prevent people who are accustomed to the nozzle, from dumping half-a-bottle of ranch on their salads when they encounter a non-squeezer bottle.

Why was there no response? Do we only respond to recipe ideas and praises?

Just wondering.

Jerry
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From: hiddenvalley@consumerreply.com

Subject: Reference Number: 5965176
Date: Wed, 28 Oct 2009 14:48:24 -0500
October 28, 2009
Reference Number: 5965176

Dear Jerry,

Thank you for contacting us about your Hidden Valley Salad Dressing. We always appreciate hearing from our consumers.

We apologize you did not receive a response from us about a pour spout. Our records do not indicate receiving the previous email from you. The 24 ounce and larger bottles do have a pour spout on them; unfortunately, the 16 ounce bottle does not. I have forwarded your request for a pour spout on to our marketing department.
Again, thank you for contacting us.
Sincerely,

Patti
Consumer Response Representative
Consumer Services

Did you know: Kids eat more vegetables when they come with Ranch Dressing.

To let us know what you think about your experience emailing our company, please click on the following link to complete an online satisfaction survey.
http://surveys.affina.com/metasurveyExternal/cgi-bin/qwebcorporate.cgi?idx=WU72GH

If you have additional questions or comments, please click here to respond to this email.
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My response, sent 10/28/2009:

Patti,

Thank you. I know I pushed the submit button on October 5th. There wasn't any confirmation that it went through though.

I have two requests:

1) I'm really curious why the decision was made to "not" include this feature on the 16 ounce bottle. I work in the consumer product industry, and can verify that such decisions are typically decided by bean counters, based on dollars and cents. In this case, probably less than five cents per 16 ounce bottle. Can you ask the bean counters for an explanation?

2) Can you please keep me notified--I won't be buying until the squirter nozzle is added. As a result, I won't know when it "hits the market".

Thanks again for responding. Sorry about the mix-up on the first letter, and possibly going a little A-to-Z, jumping to conclusions. I can get a little zany.

Thank you,

Jerry
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October 29, 2009
Reference Number: 5965176

Dear Jerry,

Thank you for contacting us about your Hidden Valley Salad Dressing. We always appreciate hearing from our consumers.

I honestly do not have an answer for you as to why they do not put the pour spout on the 16 ounce bottle, I can only guess. The 16 ounce bottle has a low volume of sales and it is such a small bottle marketing has decided not to include the pour spout on it. I agree it probably would not cost that much to include it. I did forward your request to our marketing department. I am sending you a coupon for the 24 ounce bottle since all bottles 24 ounce and larger do have the pour spout. You should receive the coupon in 7-10 business days.

Again, thank you for contacting us.

Sincerely,

Patti
Consumer Response Representative
Consumer Services

Did you know: Kids eat more vegetables when they come with Ranch Dressing.
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My reply, sent 10/29/2009

Patti,

Thank you very much. I appreciate all of your help.

Sincerely,

Jerry

P.S. - Did you know my kids eat more ranch dressing when there isn't a squirter nozzle?
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