October 24, 2005

Someone Needs To Take A Time Out. In A Nest High Chair

So what did you do this weekend, you ask? Oh, the usual, a visit with Grandma, the gym, church, wading through a steaming swamp of emails about one dad's "dissatisfaction" with a defective tray for his space age-y Nest high chair...

Why does any of this concern me, you ask? Well, I wish I had a good answer for that. The long story is below, with some details left out to protect the less-guilty. The long story short, though, for those in a hurry: CHILL THE HELL OUT, PEOPLE.

So a Canadian dad--we'll call him Josh--comparison shops around for a Nest high chair. The corporate site in the UK, the local dealer, and some online stores in the US, where the shipping discount finally lures him in.

Some time later, Josh notices they can't clean the food out of these tiny holes, "pinholes," he calls them, around the edge of the tray. Food build up breeds bacteria, he figures, better get a replacement.

He contacts the company. Then the retailer. Then the retailer contacts the company. Then the company says, Josh? We've heard from him, and how. "Pinholes"? sounds like the finish that results from the "rotomoulding" manufacturing process. Should clean up fine if you use the recommendations in the manual.

No, says Josh, this is a dangerous and fundamentally flawed design, and I want a replacement [??], and before the retailer can respond he:

  • disputes the entire charge with American Express.
  • threatens to post all about the mortal dangers posed by the tray on a prominent parenting website.
  • can't find one, so he posts a balls-out flamefest of a comment about the tray on daddytypes instead [since edited and re-edited].
  • files a complaint with the CPSC claiming that his doctor thinks the 10-month-old's stomachache is caused by the bacteria breeding on the tray.
  • emails the entire daddytypes post--including his new comment--to a bunch of Nest retailers.

    Several of the retailers then email me on a Sunday asking WTF? Mozzee, Nest's manufacturers, email me on Sunday asking WTF?

    Josh sends pictures of the pinhole/petri dishes to me and the retailer. I wake up with an email from Mozzee that says, whoa, that's not rotomoulding it's--here, I'll quote it:

    This is not a pin-hole problem itís more serious. Please accept our apologies. Had we done our job with quality assurance you would not have received this defective tray.

    We take hygiene and quality management very seriously at Mozzee. In fact, the entire basis of the Mozzee NESTís design is to ensure a safe capsule with hygienic dining for baby. The NEST surfaces are flush so they are easily cleaned, preventing the possibility of food lodging or bacteria building up. This is why you will find our Mozzee Nest in some of the worldís leading restaurants. NEST is easy to clean and keep clean.

    Josh needs a replacement tray so his daughter can dine in NEST style. We have arranged through our authorized retailer to supply one to Josh as soon as possible.

    "dine in NEST style." I love it. So all's well that ends well, right? Hold on there just a minute, cowboy.

    Now I've heard [hi, honey!] that I can be a pretty demanding customer, that sometimes, in certain situations, when I feel wronged, I might betray an outsized sense of entitlement in my interactions with some people in a sales/customer service setting. I'm man enough to admit that this is somewhat true and human enough to admit I'm working on it. [Actually, having a kid has made me both more aware of my shortcomings and more sensitive to what my example is teaching the kid, but this, for once, isn't about me.]

    Now I've also heard--and I sometimes suspect--that this high-maintenance, outsized sense of entitlement, treat people like servant-itis may grow more prevalent as the sum of money involved increases. Where a guy driving a Mercedes and a Bugaboo on the Upper East Side of Manhattan would ever get an idea like that, who knows, but let me put it this way: If you can afford a $600 high chair, you can also afford to be gracious.

    If it's true that the baby marketplace used to be divided into giant, faceless, unaccountable conglomerates cranking out piles of poorly made junk for the masses on the one hand, and hushed, high-touch boutiques and craftspeople making custom goods for the gentry whose speak-when-spoken-to governesses were eternally grateful for getting Sunday evenings off, let me say, those days are over. In just the last couple of years, even, dozens of innovative, independent companies--often founded by new parents themselves--have stepped up to offer products and resources that simply didn't exist before.

    Should a customer buying the highest-priced, highest-design high chair on the market expect a lot from it? Of course. Were Nest chairs perfect when they launched? No. But I've seen the Mozzee people being very conscientious and responsive to their customer's questions and concerns. And they're human beings, not some "customer service dept."

    It's difficult and stressful enough being a new parent without having to devote inordinate time and energy to player-hating on the people we enlist to help us. So don't throw your civility, respect, and basic optimism for humanity out with the dirty diapers. [And if you didn't have any of those traits before, what better time to develop them, seeing as how your kid is at once a mirror and a sponge.]

    And besides, being an over-demanding asshole parent is such a Baby Boomer thing; it is OVER.

  • 1 Comment

    Now I'm disappointed I missed all the hullaballoo. Don't suppose you could un-edit-and-re-un-edit whatever post it was on, just for grins?

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