A Terrible Solution

I like Axe brand deodorant. More specifically, I like Axe brand Dark Temptation deodorant. I’ve used it for years. It smells good. Even if you don’t like the smell, it’s still better than not using deodorant at all.

I also like to shop at Walgreens. I find myself at Walgreens fairly regularly, either the one by my house, or another one on my way home from work. We also seem to have a CVS across the intersection from (both) Walgreens locations. I rarely go into CVS. I have nothing against CVS, I think I just started going to Walgreens first and the habit stuck. This story has nothing to do with CVS. I don’t know why I even mentioned it.

Axe deodorant (all flavors) is popular, and theft-worthy, apparently. One day I went into the Walgreens by my house to pick up a few things, including deodorant. As I walked down the aisle, I couldn’t find the Axe deodorant. Finally, I spotted it…locked up, with a real lock, behind clear plastic panels. I thought, “Really? Have they started putting it in gold-plated containers or something?”

I found an employee and asked how people get access to the Axe deodorant and she said she would have to get a manager to unlock the case. The manager showed up and as we were talking explained that they had higher rates of theft lately of Axe products, hence the extra security.

Now, one of the reasons I buy things at Walgreens instead of the grocery store is the convenience of getting in and out quickly. Easy parking, no long aisles of products to traverse, no long check out line. It seems counter-productive to all that implied convenience to then lock up the deodorant and have to call for a manager whenever a customers wants to pick up some Axe. I decided to try the other Walgreens location next time.

Yay, no locks! Convenience and speed are back again. There was a little white sticker on the container to which I paid little attention, more on that later. I also picked up 5 or 6 cans of hair spray to get me through the week (not really) and checked out. When I got home, I threw everything into a drawer in the bathroom.

About a week later, I ran out of deodorant and grabbed the new container out of the drawer. I was kind of in a rush, so I popped the lid off and…wait, I should say I “tried” to pop the lid off, but the little white sticker held it firmly in place. This must be important, maybe an important warning. You might remember the advertising campaign when Axe products for men were introduced. Some poor guy used the Axe body wash or some product and when he went outside a horde of beautiful young women chased him down like a pack of wolves after a baby deer. I will mention at this point that I have been using Axe products for years and that has never happened to me, ever. Anyway, I figured maybe the sticker was a warning not to use too much, because of the thing with the horde of women or something. But no, it said “This item intended for sale at Walgreens, if found at other outlets, call (800-blah blah blah). IMG_1408

So, are you supposed to turn yourself in if you bought this stuff on the black market? I wonder if people do that…and what is the punishment for buying black market deodorant?  Maybe something “Soup Nazi” – style – “No deodorant for you – ONE YEAR!”

Either way, the sticker seemed better than locking the stuff up behind clear plastic. Until I tried to remove it. Let me say, these stickers use a good-quality adhesive. That sticker did not want to come off. I eventually got it off in little pieces, which wasn’t that entertaining, especially since I was in a hurry.

What was worse was the sticky residue left behind. I was reminded of the sticker, with every. single. use.


Axe is made by Unilever company. It comes in a nice, glossy container that has a nice contoured shape that feels good in your hand and a slick reflective pinter in silver, gold, brown and black. I’m thinking that Unilever spent a lot of money designing that label and container so that when customers saw it on the shelf and held it in their hand they would make the purchase decision.

What I think when I hold this one is that the sticky feeling is gross. I’m pretty sure that tactile sensations are important, and the residue left by the sticker is not doing anyone any favors.

Let’s get back to the root of things (1,500 words later) here. Walgreens had a theft problem. Someone at Walgreens decided these stickers would be a good idea. I disagree. Any solution that causes grief (minor grief, but still) for your customer needs to be avoided, although I am curious how many people call the 800# to turn themselves in.

And that’s the point of this post…

What do we do in our business to solve issues that come up? Do our solutions make 100% of our customers go though more trouble, procedures and red tape because 2% of our customers are a problem?

Do we prevent our customer-service people from using their brains and creativity (even though they somehow made it to work that day all by themselves) from solving customer issues, instead relying on a list of policies and procedures?

Before instituting a new policy or procedure that will possibly alienate our customers or put them through extra red tape in order to do business with us, it’s a great idea to ask, “Is this really necessary?”.

Update: I just got back from Walgreen’s. Now my hairspray has a little white sticker as well.



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