It seems the blog post that I wrote about Ecolab's requirement that we purchase $75 a month of chemicals a month whether we need them or not has caught the attention of Ecolab's corporate headquarters. And today, Ecolab sent a district manager to PJP Buttonwood to discuss all things related to dishwashers, chemicals, and my righteous indignation. The district manager brought authorization to waive our past three months of unpaid chemical fee charges. At an average of $75 a month for minimum chemical purchases, we currently owe $225 (plus our $99.37 a month lease fee). We hadn't paid the $225 because we didn't need any chemicals and we weren't aware that we were mandated to purchase the chemicals or pay the $75 a month regardless. You can read the entire story here: http://pjpies.com/2014/10/15/big-mistake-big-huge/.
So, the district manager was super happy to announce that he could make the $225 go away and then we would pay the $75 a month from here on out. And he even brought a catalogue of the entire line of Ecolab cleaning products to highlight the many, many, many options to purchase to meet the $75 a month requirement. And here is the honest truth...the entire situation completely irritates me, but that said, there isn't much we can do about it except pay the stupid $174.37 a month until the one year contract ends in March. So I was willing to move on...
Until the district manager said something along the lines of "so we are good now and there won't be anymore blogging or Tweeting about this, right?" AND HE WAS SERIOUS.
What followed next can only be described as a pointless conversation that went in a vicious circle with no end. Whomever came up with the phrase "let's just agree to disagree" must have had my conversation today with the Ecolab district manager in mind. As much as he was righteously indignant that the forgiveness of the $225 should end the dispute, I was righteously indignant that the entire concept of charging a customer $75 a month for chemicals they don't need is insane. (I might have said it was "dumb" in the heat of the moment. I still stand by that comment.)
So, Ecolab corporate, if you are reading this, here are my pertinent thoughts:
Don't charge me $75 a month for chemicals I don't want or need. I don't care if you make an "awesome floor cleaner" or an "amazing product that soaks grease off pans" or if your employee's wife refuses to clean her granite with anything but your lemon scented granite cleaner. That is all awesome information, if I needed some cleaning supplies. On two different occasions, your employees have told me the company doesn't make any money on the actual lease of the machine. That isn't my problem. If you set the price at $99 a month and offer free shipping and that causes you to take a loss, then you should probably rework that business model instead of relying on your line of chemical products to pick up the slack. According to your 2013 annual report, your company made over $13 million in net sales, so I'm guessing something is working for you.
Everyone today from your company was very concerned that I acknowledge the forgiveness of the $225 past debt from our dispute, so I hereby say thank you for allowing us to wipe the slate clean. As we move forward, I'll buy the chemicals each month until our contract is over and you can cash the check. But I won't like it, agree with it, or support it...or even pretend that I do. Because under the protections of the First Amendment, I don't have to. That is how this free-speech, free-market, net $13 million in sales democratic system works.
And all that said, that my original blog post gave you pause and motivated you to send a district manager our way? Well, I AM HONORED, INDEED. Maybe I should change our name from Peggy Jean's to Norma Rae's...