Diaper promotion has P&G in PR roil

CINCINNATI: PlanetFeedback, a website designed to make it easy for people to complain to corporations, was buzzing last week with numerous postings from consumers complaining about the Pampers Perks program.

CINCINNATI: PlanetFeedback, a website designed to make it easy for people to complain to corporations, was buzzing last week with numerous postings from consumers complaining about the Pampers Perks program.

As first reported in The Wall Street Journal, Procter & Gamble is facing an onslaught of customer complaints over its Pampers incentive program.

Diaper buyers could save points from the packages to exchange for toys, but P&G ran out of toys, and a PR response became necessary.

The program ended at the end of January, and there are still customers waiting for P&G to make good. But the company has responded that the program was clearly indicated to run on a "while supplies last" basis.

"What we are in the process of doing now is communicating back with the customers,

explained Bill Hopping, an external relations spokesman for the Pampers brand.

P&G is now sending letters explaining the situation to customers who are still waiting for toys. The company has also set up a link through Pampers.com with FAQs about the program.

"Please keep in mind that the Perks items were available on a 'while supplies last' basis, with products subject to availability,

the site reads. "The supply of toys that Pampers secured for this program is depleted.

We will be updating you soon by mail."

One of the complaints voiced by consumers is that the Pampers packaging still features the promotion, even though it has ended. But "it takes time to change the packaging,

according to the Pampers website.

P&G's plight is reminiscent of the Hoover snafu in 1993. The vacuum-cleaner company ran a promotion in the UK offering free airline tickets to customers.

But when the company was unable to meet the enormous demand, the resulting PR damage negated the benefits.

P&G maintains that the Perks offering was a success. "It was a very popular program, and had a very strong response from consumers,

said Hopping.

Pampers is currently "looking at options for consumers who sent in points before January 31."

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