Saturday, February 23, 2008

Flunking Ozarka

I’m going to ask Ozarka® Brand Natural Spring Water one more time: Please sell me just one of your Bottle Mate® XL water-bottle carriers. Here an extra opportunity to be responsive to your customers (well, me anyway).

I am getting older – you probably didn’t know this. As large as I am, I’ve gotten to the point where I can’t easily wrestle with the 5-gallon bottles (40 lbs or so each) in which Ozarka delivers water to us. The Ozarka routeman leaves them at the front door; our dispenser is at the back of the house.

Yesterday, I saw our routeman, Alex, use this really neat plastic handle to move the bottles. The specialized, easy-to-use tool is made of nylon and glass-reinforced polymers and it slips over the neck of the bottle so someone can just lift it with one hand. The name “Bottle Mate XL” is molded right into the handle. This is some good trick. I immediately wanted one of my own.

I asked Alex where I could buy one; he answered that it was issued to him by the company, it was the only one he had. He didn’t think the company sold them, and the only thing he could suggest was to call Ozarka’s 800 number. (BTW, Alex humped those bottles to the back of the house – the kind of nice gesture I’ve come to expect from Ozarka drivers – thank you.)

Okay, on to the telephone number, 1-800-678-4448. I called Ozarka (it’s one of many water brands owned by Nestlé Waters North America Inc.) and spoke with a very nice woman in Massachusetts. I explained what I was seeking, told her I was a long-time customer – and she replied that the company’s Bottle Mate XL was not available for Ozarka customers. Why not? She didn’t know.

I told her I’d be glad to pay for it...she still didn’t care; just repeated that the Bottle Mate XL wasn’t available for us civilians.

Now, do I waste more of my time trying to get one from Ozarka? Or search the web to find another source? According to the Internet, the Bottle Mate XL, so called because “In response to popular demand,” it has “an improved hand grip 33% larger for big hands or gloves in cold climates,” is manufactured by the Bottle Mate Company – which only sells the items 10 at a time. I’ll keep looking – I’ll find a singleton somewhere.

But right here, right now, there’s an opportunity for Ozarka (which I generally respect) to offer a relevant item, an adjunct to its normal line of products, to fit the changing needs of some of its customers…older guys who’d like to think they can lift 5-gallon water jugs but can’t do it as effortlessly as they used to. Don’t flunk this.

So attention, Kim Jeffery, President and CEO of Nestlé Waters North America. Listen up, Bob Davino, Nestlé Vice President of Marketing. Why not give me a call (713.598.4238)? Tell me you’ll sell one of these Bottle Mate XLs to me. I promise I won’t tell anybody else about it.

PS: If you can’t bend your rules for a good, long-term customer like me, I’ll call Pittsburgh Water Cooler Service in Glenshaw, PA…there’s a Bottle Mate XL for sale right on its website. Then won’t you be embarrassed?

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