superdumb supervillain: Nasty, Gross and Apparently Pretty Common

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Nasty, Gross and Apparently Pretty Common

I'm pretty horrified about this, frankly, and felt the need to share. We buy cases of baby wipes and diapers at Sam's Club but they were out of our preferred Pampers Sensitive wipes so we got the Member's Mark Moist Wipes. Here's what it says about them on the website:
Your trusted Member's Mark Moist Wipes now contain natural cotton fibers for added comfort and softness. Plus, we've added natural botanical extracts to our mild cleansing lotion that contains soothing aloe & vitamin E to help soften your skin. Gentle enough for hands and face. Great for adult care, baby care and growing kids!

We'd been using these for a couple of weeks, around the same time Jasper developed a horrible rash. We had to get a prescription anti-bacterial cream from the pediatrician, even. I figured he needed the sensitive wipes on his tushie, so I switched the Member's Mark Moist Wipes to our generic kitchen supply, which we use for quick clean ups, faces and hands. Around this time, we all developed sinus infections and coughs. I figured it was the time of year. Until Bob pulled out one of the wipes and it had bloomed with colorful mold spores. Obviously, I would NOT have been using these if I'd seen the mold before but once it was visible, it seemed a likely contributor to what I had assumed was seasonal cold and flu symptoms. So I called the 800 number on the back of the Member's Mark Moist Wipes package. "Oh, yeah, we've had a lot of those removed from shelves, you must have gotten an old box." Great. Why weren't there warnings on the package? Why were these still for sale? "You can take them back to the store for a refund." Okay. No apology, no contrition for exposing my family to ickiness and possible infection.

So I took the leftover case of Member's Mark Moist Wipes back to the store. I'd put the offending wipes into a baggie so they could see what was wrong. In case they wanted to warn other families, pull a hazardous product off the shelves, etc. After waiting in line for twenty minutes, I was given a refund. The customer service rep at the returns desk wrinkled her nose at the moldy wipes but said she'd seen them before. And that she still used them for her kids.

I'm not sure what I was expecting*. When I've had consumer issues in the past, it just seems like the companies are more interested when you try and tell them something is wrong with their product. I know Wal-Mart is supposed to be engaging with consumers more through their Eleven Moms program, etc. but I think the lack of interest from their house brands is really disheartening.

Am I over-reacting? Maybe. But when I called Target a couple of months back about some off-tasting Archer Farms peanut butter, the reaction was markedly different. They encouraged me to discontinue using the product, wanted batch number info so they could check up on other complaints, and immediately sent me replacement coupons for the product and other items from the brand. I even received a follow-up letter to rate my satisfaction level. I don't expect companies to kiss my butt but it would be great if they all seemed to care, at least a tiny bit. Especially when baby products are involved!

Kim over at Hormone-Colored Days is questioning Wal-Mart's public outreach skills today, too. WTF, indeed.

* (update) I wrote about this because I thought it was pertinent, that other parents who read my blog may very well shop at Sam's Club and be seduced by the low price of the Member's Mark Moist Wipes. I am happy that you all are just as irritated by the ambivalence of the company in dealing with a potential health hazard but I meant this as an example of a problem I see in many, many retailers these days and not as a diatribe against Sam's or Wal-Mart. While I would certainly entertain piles of gifts from either entity, I have no desire to bilk them out of any money because of this troubling incident or to get them to pony up for my pediatric co-pays. I have had plenty of good shopping experiences at both with no health problems resulting from either. I just wish their method of dealing with this was less lackadaisical. And if they wanted to hook me up with a front-loading washer and dryer or sponsor me for BlogHer or Mom 2.0, I wouldn't say no. But I will probably steer clear of their baby products, regardless.


  1. That's disgusting. Have you Googled around to see who else have had these problems and how they've dealt with it? Could they be liable for your medical bills or anything?

    I can never shake the time I returned one of my boys's gifts to Walmart and was greeted with a scowl by a woman wearing a "Customer Service Expert" button.

    Thanks for the link.

  2. ewww. with the general paranoia about mold these days, I'm pretty supprised at the customer "services" reactions. I don't want to believe that one of those people is still using the wipes on her little one!!! I might consider following up with a letter and your photos, letting them know that the wipes made your entire family sick and that you didn't feel that their reaction was appropriate.
    Thanks for letting us know. : )

  3. Holy crap, that is disgusting! Worse though, it is unhealthy! UNHEALTHY ... are they blind, deaf and dumb? I am floored.

    Empathy along with the refund would have been appreciated I'm sure!

  4. That is horrid.

    Not just the mold, but the lack of concern on the Customer Service person's part.

    Just so you know? Yeah, Walmart is trying to engage consumers more - but it's hard trying to get everyone from the individual stores around the country to suddenly care.

    That doesn't mean that other Moms don't care though - and I know there are a lot of Moms working for Walmart & Sam's Club... So even though I *don't* work for them - I'm passing this along in the hopes that it gets to the right person to actually get addressed.

    What a horrible experience :( I hope your family is okay!!


  5. That is appalling! I don't know what's worse, the mold or their treatment of you as if you were mold.

    I agree that customer service anywhere should go above and beyond in trying to rectify the situation, and hopefully that person is not representative of others at WalMart. You should forward this post to the eleven moms or WalMart.

  6. I'd take this further up the chain, Naomi. It's absolutely unacceptable for WalMart to care so little about something that could have caused harm to a child.

    But oh yeah, they also had some excellent security at that store on Long Island on Black Friday, too. I guess their lack of concern shouldn't shock me.

  7. Just FYI? I did pass this along to my contact at Walmart and it was forwarded along to someone at Sam's club who should be able to address it.

    If for some reason you haven't been reached out to this week? Would you let me know so I can follow up with them before the Holiday week?


  8. That is disgusting...and their lack of concern is horrible!

    I can't believe they wouldn't have pulled them all, that's beyond wrong.

  9. That is foul. I can't even begin to imagine how I'd react. I'm very glad I use my own cloth wipes. Bleh bleh I'd freak out if that happened to me. I hope they pay closer attention to the products on their shelves from now on...

  10. oh my GOD...SICK. your medical bills should be paid...stat. and that chick who still uses those wipes on her kid? idiot.

  11. That is truly horrible. I hope you get some kind of response from Sam's.

  12. Ugh. That's gross.

    But thanks for sharing about it. I take "customer service" VERY seriously and my propensity to shop (or not shop) at a particular store is directly related to how customers are treated and what kind of "environment" is fostered.

  13. Oh that is gross thanks for sharing the pics. It looks like that customer service did not properly handle this situation at all. It looks like GeekMommy forwarded to the right people so I am sure this will get handled.

    I am sorry for what what you have gone through as I am a mom of 2. If you would not have posted, we would not have known and been able to try and help! I hope everything works out for you and don't forget to let GeekMommy know if someone does not get in touch with you.

  14. Wow, just wow. Thanks for letting us know, Naomi. I am quite suprised with their reaction as well.

  15. I am so sorry this happened to you! That is just yuck!!!

    I agree with what GeekMommy & The Consumer Queen said! Their customer service person was definitely not handling your situation properly! We have had some things go bad at other stores (not walmart/sam's club) and they've usually handed back a refund and an apology...

    Definitely let GeekMommy know if you haven't received a reply from the contacts she sent your link to!

  16. That is terrible. I know your motivation isn't to seek compensation, but I believe that your medical bills should be compensated at the very least.

    At my company we've learned that a reputation for customer service isn't determined when everything goes right, it's determined when a customer has a bad experience. The good handling of a bad experience can create a lifelong customer.

    Hopefully Sams understand that and this will be escalated.

  17. That mold is appalling. You want to believe that the products that you purchase specifically for young children are safe, but we are learning over and over again that they are not. And you want companies that make children's products to actually care about the well-being of the children.

    The state of customer service these days is sad. Many companies want your money but don't want to provide service. I like to vote with my wallet and would personally boycott for the customer service (or lack thereof). I always believe that the way a company handles a problem speaks volumes.

  18. LOLOLOLOL omg.. Im rolling on the floor thats hillarious.. ok not hilarious that poor Jasper has a rash.. or the grossness factor of moldy wipes.. but seriously you are so much braver than I am. I'm still pretty skeptical about this whole Walmart outreach thing as of late as well. Though I do have to admit I do hit the Walmart Black Friday sale every year I avoid walmart like the plague otherwise and have discontinued shopping at Sams. Purely from a lack of customer service and the sheer trouble I have had with Walmart and coupons. Not to mention that the TV I stood in the cold rain for three hours to buy at black friday ended up being so terrible I took it back to the store the same day (yes yes after spending all that time and almost getting into a fight with some other shoppers to get it)... not that I expected amazing for the price but the picture was so awful i couldn't even watch it. *sigh* I'd love to believe in Walmart.. I actually like shopping there as the prices are good and I actually have a sams club membership which I need to cancel as i've not set foot in one in over a year... ok i did once to buy a halloween decoration... but every time I forgive them and go back I'm always struck down by customer service issues that leaves me with a terrible taste in my mouth.

  19. Wow. That's Having baby wipes go moldy on you is bad enough (and I used enough Huggies wipes on my son when he was a baby, and never had any of them get moldy), but for the so-called customer service person to 1) act like it was no big deal, and 2) to say she still uses the same wipes, even though she, too, has had mold issues?! I knew there was a reason I tried to avoid shopping at Wal-Mart, and you've just reminded me of it. Blech. I hope you get a more positive response from somewhere up the food chain.

  20. ok wow, that is disgusting!! and I am shocked at how you were treated.


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