I am all fired up over kitty litter.
Or, rather, the absence of kitty litter.
First world problems, I know. But I think it illustrates neatly the lack of power lowly consumers have over corporate decision making because those decisions are made to serve the shareholders ahead of the folks who buy the products, the same folks who actually provide the profits which go to those shareholders. And that's kind of a global problem.
Not like global warming, mind you, but a result of a consumer society that's contributing to emissions and thus to global warming.
There, now I've justified writing about my complaint and will carry on.
I have used Yesterday's News Original Unscented kitty litter for well over a decade now. It is - or was - made of recycled newspaper, formed into pellets that broke down when wet. It was not scoopable and it was somewhat more expensive than most cat litters, drawbacks which I was okay with because of its good points: it wasn't dusty (which was helpful for me and for one of our cats as we both have twitchy airways), it did not track, and it had a naturally woodsy smell without added scent. It also came in a sturdy paper bag which was recyclable and compostable.
For the last month our local stores have had empty shelves where Yesterday's News kitty litter used to be. After a couple of weeks, I found a new version of Yesterday's News at a single store in our town - it was a flaked or pulverized form of the product, and was supposed to be clumping and dust-free. The litter situation at home was getting dire, and I couldn't find any other acceptable substitute, so I bought some.
It was not dust-free, it did not clump in any helpful way (i.e., it clumped but then it fell apart as soon as I tried to remove the clump), and it tracked worse than a dozen children who've been at the beach all day.
I decided to contact the company on their website (Purina, a subsidiary of Nestle) and ask if the product had been discontinued. I also - politely, I believe - expressed my issues with the new form of the litter.
It took several days for them to respond. Engagement Specialist #1 did not answer my question about the product being discontinued, but did ask for my zip code so they could check for nearby stores where I might be able to buy the litter.
If you're keeping score, they got half marks for trying to help and half marks deducted for not answering the question.
I replied with my postal code. Zip codes are American, postal codes are Canadian . . . which I felt did not bode well for finding a nearby store.
After several more days, I received from Engagement Specialist #2 a short list of pet stores that supposedly sold the product. The company also provided a link to their website, directly to the page describing the product I wanted.
Only two of the pet stores were remotely close to my home, and neither had the product in stock.
And here's the penultimate in ridiculous: the product page - to which they provided the link - stated the product was being discontinued in July of 2021.
So the company's own customer complaint personnel didn't grasp - or didn't want to confess - that the answer to the question I had specifically asked about the product being discontinued was Yes.
If you're keeping score, we are now at a minus position because the list of stores provided was useless and providing the link to their website without stating up front that the product was now unavailable was misleading.
And yet, when I replied to tell them so (more politely than I've stated it above), they continued to soldier on. This time I heard from Engagement Specialist #3, who sympathized with me, told me their product wasn't usually dusty so I should provide the product information from the bag and the name and address of the store where I bought it, presumably so they could download blame to the store; they also suggested I should maybe try placing a mat outside of the litter box to catch the litter before it could be tracked across the floor. (Due to needing to keep the cats separated, I have a total of five litter boxes throughout the house, and I refuse to buy five mats to "maybe" deal with this issue.) Finally, they asked for my full address so they could send me coupons for a product I had already said I would not be buying again.
After taking a day to compose myself, I replied that I no longer had the packaging (true - it went with the compost earlier in the week) and I had no need of coupons because I wasn't going to buy the new product. I also said that the ONE THING I would like to know was why they had discontinued a product that worked fine.
Yes, I already know that the answer is "profit" but I want to hear them admit it.
If you're still keeping score, the company is now at minus eleventy million.
I'm under no illusions that my protest will do any good, no matter how many facts I have on my side nor how long my buying history is.
But it was better than doing nothing. Hopefully there are a few more consumers out there who might have registered their complaints.
I'll let you know if a miracle happens.
Oh, wait, I already had my miracle with the leaky water pipe.
I have no idea what I'm going to use for kitty litter now. I guess the cats will just have to learn to use the people toilet.
Let us decompress with a few funnies. And by "us" I mean "me", unless you too need to decompress, in which case I really do mean "us".
If you have a cat, what kind of litter do you use and do you find it satisfactory?
If you have a dog, just thank your lucky stars you don't have a kitty litter problem.
Have a good day, everyone!