Trying to seriously online-review toilet paper

DSC_0617One of the many problems with buying things online is that most retailers try to follow up the sale with a review. These review requests are only slightly less annoying than customer satisfaction surveys, which pick your brain about the buying “experience” itself, versus the content of the experience: what you purchased.

Often I elect to NOT purchase online because I don’t want to be opinion-harassed afterward. When I buy bananas at Jack’s in my hometown, nobody chases me out into the parking lot, asking me to rate their freshness, how attractively they were displayed, along with my perceived friendliness of the cashier (Nancy was great!) who checked out my fruit. Online, it’s a whole different story, no matter what I purchase.

Given the digital survey and review gauntlet I am forced to run with each online purchase, the only real thing that makes it seem worthwhile (meaning “less of a time-waster”) is some major coupon discount that can be redeemed online only. The concept of $30 off a $60 purchase is music to my ears in a “ca-ching” kind of way that has me renouncing all other musical genres. I can tolerate a lot of post-purchase survey abuse in the name of savings.

An opportunity aligned perfectly last month when making some purchases at work. We had reward points to redeem (or forfeit, Heaven forbid) before month-end, through an office supply chain with free delivery. Plus, an added discount for purchasing online. Deep discount, free delivery and further rewards. No brainer. But, to meet the minimum amount purchased, we ended up tacking on something we don’t typically online-order: toilet paper.

I didn’t think a lot about it again until after delivery of the order, when an online review request popped up in our email in-box: “You recently purchased Angel Soft 2-Ply Big Rolls of Bath Tissue, 24 Rolls/Pack. Please take a moment to review your purchase and help inform shoppers just like you.”

What?! I have been paid to review books, plays, movies and instructors, for which there are specific standards. But I wouldn’t have a clue about where to start when it comes to evaluating toilet paper. So, I studied some toilet paper ads to see what the advertisers play up: softness, fluffiness, tearability and absorbency. Well, that was a start.

Next, I tried to think about it through a more personal lens: what attracts me to toilet paper? Well, perhaps “attracts” is the wrong word, because that suggests a kind of perversion I am not ready to cop to, at least not at this point in my life. More to the point, what do I look for in toilet paper?

While the typical features may be important, in my household economy, affordability trumps them all. The problem lies in trying to determine what is the best deal with regard to toilet paper. When they came out with “double rolls” a few years ago, it was hailed as revolutionary, plus I could do the math. But over time, the same people who tampered with the number of ounces in a package of cheese and the dimensions of a standard candy bar, messed with butt wipe.

Suddenly, toilet papers were subjected to algebra-defying, ambiguous size claims, such as “jumbo,” “mega” and “super-sized” rolls. I stood in the toilet paper section recently on a trip to a large supermarket and tried to compare the comparisons the toilet paper manufacturers were making for their products.

“6 mega rolls = 9 regular rolls,” said one. “6 BIG rolls = 8 regular rolls,” claimed another. “8 giant plus rolls = 13 regular rolls,” bragged a third. One brand claimed purchasing their TP was like getting an additional regular roll, while a competing brand said its package contained 110 feet more of toilet paper. What does that mean? I have never measured, have you?

I took all these variables into consideration when crafting my online review of the toilet paper obtained online through the office product supplier. “Your toilet paper was deeply effective for its intended job; much better than the historical alternatives of catalog pages and corn cobs. It improved my bathroom experience, plus sharpened my math skills.” Enough said!

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