Morality and the Butter Substitute

We’re Land O’ Lakes people around here.  We enjoy the spread with sweet creme, it comes spreadable out of the fridge (which would be a real advantage if it ever got put back in the fridge) and it has a relatively pleasant light flavor.  Unfortunately our local grocery store doesn’t carry it anymore.  Or maybe it does carry it, but in the wrong size, or it may be that the price went up significantly (I can’t remember, although I was told, but I don’t know because the purchase of our butter substitutes is Sean’s responsibility (as is the purchase of ice creme, carbonated beverages, hot dogs and a few other sundries.  I still do the bulk of the grocery shopping its just that.. you know, it’s just not worth explaining.)  so I don’t pay too much attention.)   Regardless of the reason, the last time Sean bought some form of vegetable spread he went with another brand. (I won’t go into details about the brand here because I’m not in the business of product reviews or product bashing (as the case may be) other than to say that saying that it’s any kind of substitute for butter is a crock.)

The new stuff was not good.

So now we have a three pound tub of a vegetable spread/butter substitute that even the kids won’t eat.  So it sat in the fridge for two weeks.

Finally I asked Sean if there was any chance he was going to eat it or if we should just throw it away.   He said neither, he said that he was going to take it back.

And I just don’t approve.

I know that just about everything you buy these days comes with a money back guarantee.  I’ve worked in costumer service, and I know that you can take back whatever you want for whatever reason you want and with very few exceptions the store will give you your money back.  I’ve even heard a story or two from my little sister who used to work at Nordstrom (which despite being a “department store” only sells clothes, has only ever sold clothes) about ladies bringing their blenders “back” because they don’t work (possibly because they’re obviously twenty years old and you just can’t expect a blender to live forever) and despite having the fact that Nordstrom has never sold a blender in all its however many years of operation these women insist that they purchased the blender at Nordstrom and now it doesn’t work and they want their money back even if they don’t have a receipt blah blah blah and eventually the poor clerk at Nordstrom takes the blender and issues a “refund” (which is to say that Nordstom purchases a twenty-year-old non-operative blender from some old bat for $30) because you know, the customer is always right.

But that’s an extreme example, what I’m really talking about here is returning things that can’t be resold just because you want to.  I’m all for returning the pants that you got home, tried on again (or for the first time if you shop like I do) and decided that they made you look like a MAC truck from behind and just really weren’t going to work for you, as long as you didn’t remove the tags I say return away.  I am against, however, buying a pair of pants, wearing them and then returning them.  NOT ok.

Back to the point.

I’ve read financial advisers who say that if anything you purchase is not to your liking you ought to get your money back, there are several people of my acquaintance who hold the same opinion.  I just can’t get behind that.  We got this spread, and it was crap but other than just not tasting good there was nothing wrong with it.  It wasn’t rancid, there was no mold and while it did taste bad, it wasn’t a “this has gone bad” kind of bad taste it was just a “this product isn’t any good” kind of bad.  It was bad, but that was how it was supposed to taste.  We could take it back but the fact is that that crock of spread cost money to make and to store and to ship and to sell, and as far as I know it was made and stored and shipped and sold correctly.  The problem is me.  (Ok in all reality I think the problem was the product but I believe in a free country, even one in which companies can make and sell products of poor quality.)  I don’t like the product.  That’s my “failing” so why should the company that produced it and/or the store that sold it bear the financial responsibility for my tastes?  and ultimately who really bears that financial responsibility?  The company sees their profit margin shrinking so they increase the prices of their products and inevitably I end up paying for the nasty stuff anyway.

Now, you can make the argument that they should bear some responsibility for producing an inferior product.  But well, I think they have that right.  (They may bear some culpability  for advertising it as a butter substitute and certainly for printing”now more buttery flavor” on the packaging but, I’m going to let that go.)  Regardless, I threw the tub away and as far as their “punishment” goes that will come in a complete lack of sales to myself or anyone in my home for the rest of time.  I think that should do it.

The upshot of the whole thing is that we’re been eating butter, real butter (I always keep some around for baking) and wowie, zowie, it’s good.  So good that I think from now on we’ll skip the substitute and go for the butter.

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12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Evitafjord
    Jul 30, 2009 @ 15:24:50

    I just want you to know (before I’ve even read your post yet) that in my task bar your post is titled Morality and the Butt and that delights me and I would like to know what that post is about as well.

  2. flip flop mama
    Jul 30, 2009 @ 15:26:23

    Real butter is way yummy.

    I’m with you. If there was something wrong then you should take it back. But just because it was a crappy product, no.

  3. Julie
    Jul 30, 2009 @ 16:52:15

    Can you make anything funny? Because I’m thinking the answer is yes. Anyway, I’ve called the “we guarantee to satisfy you” numbers on a couple products in the past. Not necessarily to get my money back, but to tell them I think something is off, and this is exactly what it is. Because, you know my opinion is just that important and necessary. Anyway, most of the time they’ve sent me coupons equal to the price I paid for whatever I thought was wrong. And I’m a-ok with that. 😉

  4. madhousewife
    Jul 30, 2009 @ 17:05:50

    In total agreement.

    My mother-in-law is always trying to get us to eat Brummel & Brown spread, which I don’t know the technical term for–is it a margarine? is it a butter-like spread? I dunno. It’s made with yogurt, which means, as far as she’s concerned, it’s far superior to any other spread on the market. Every time she visits us, she buys us some Brummel & Brown. We don’t like Brummel & Brown. “It has yogurt in it!” Yes, it does. And we still don’t like it. We didn’t like it the last 17 times you bought it for us, either. She’s like a religious zealot. Only religious zealots eventually give up, and she does not. Maybe we could take the Brummel & Brown back to the store and say it was forced on us by my mother-in-law. Just kidding. That would be wrong.

  5. bythelbs
    Jul 30, 2009 @ 18:10:07

    I’m with you. Unless the store was running some kind of special on the product with the promise, “We guarantee you’ll love this piece o’ crap product or your money back”, then that’s on them and you should get your money back.

    With the food allergies at our house, no butter for us. Just dairy-free spread. I’m not even sure if they call it margarine or not. Maybe they do. I like it fine, but I’ve never really been a true conno-sewer (I don’t know off the top of my head how to spell that so I’m going to pretend that the over-exaggerated phonetics is intentional for humorous effect, so kindly disregard this parenthetical) of butters or margarines or butter-like or margarine-like spreads.

    (OK, I couldn’t stand it. It’s connousieur. I was close.)

  6. E
    Jul 30, 2009 @ 20:00:03

    I don’t know. I bought some GV dish washing detergent a few weeks ago. It was terrible. I used it three times and every time I had globs of detergent all over my dishes. So I took it back. I don’t imagine that anyone tampered with the product or that there was anything out of the ordinary, it was just a crappy product and I didn’t think that I should have to pay $2.29 for something that didn’t work AT ALL. I suppose they can guess that people don’t like it if they don’t continue to buy it. But I think they get the message a little more clearly if you return it.

    I think you are a genuinely good person for doing the right thing even when it costs you money. But it might not be wrong to go the other way either.

  7. Julie
    Jul 30, 2009 @ 22:49:34

    If it works okay but you just don’t like it, it’s NOT okay to turn it back. You bought it. You’re responsible for it. But I try not to complain as much as possible.

  8. LisAway
    Jul 30, 2009 @ 23:45:22

    I’m extremely relieved that you neither named, nor hinted at the name of your butter-like spread anywhere in this post.

    Of course you’re totally right. I think in E’s situation it does make sense to take it back. It’s different.

    Once I took back a bag of baby carrots because it was moldy the next day or something. I bought it after the expiration date and thought the store was wrong for selling stuff past its date. I don’t know if I’d do the same now. I HALWAYS check expirations dates (almost). I should have then, too but it was early in marriage, and pretty early in doing my own shopping-hood, too.

  9. smee
    Jul 31, 2009 @ 08:07:49

    Ugh. I am a fence sitter on this one. There are some things I *do* take back even though it’s “my fault” for not liking what they worked so hard to produce. I think it depends on the cost of the product coupled with the hassle. I know, my reasoning if flawed.

    Examples: Shoes bought from (yup) Nordstroms, which is at least an hour’s drive for me, that cost significantly more than shoes I would purchase elsewhere and are supposed to be worthy of said cost because of their quality. Wear a few times and still get blisters…go back and get the money.

    Nasty bitter “Light and Fit” faux-gurt I ate while reading this post, purchase at the local grocer for about a buck… my bad, learned my lesson, and going back to the good stuff tamale!

  10. Annette
    Jul 31, 2009 @ 18:47:09

    Well, that’s what I was going to suggest all along. Butter all the way, baby.

  11. Julie
    Aug 01, 2009 @ 09:14:16

    Oh, Light and Fit is absolutely horrible.

  12. Chris Jones
    Aug 02, 2009 @ 20:17:50

    In all the years that I have known you, and those are years not a few, we have never, so far as I know, had a conversation about the morality of returning half-eaten goods to the store.

    And yet, once again, I find that we are in absolute lock-step with regard to our attitudes toward this.

    For exactly this reason I never buy a new brand of spread or butter or what-have-you in any size other than “minuscule”. If I can’t find the kind I know I like, then I either go without, or I get the smallest size there is, because if I don’t like it, I can’t take it back.

    However, if I’m a company making a product, I have a toll-free number and a website where you can tell me that you don’t like my product and I’ll send a refund to you through the store you bought my goods from, because as good as your morals are on the one side, mine should be that good on the other.

    Just sayin’.

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