The Great Whitening Toothpaste Con

Last month CHOICE lifted the lid on whitening toothpastes.

They pointed out, quite rightly, that the ingredients in so-called “whitening toothpastes were no different from the ingredients in ordinary toothpastes.

This took me a little by surprise, for the simple reason that the “whitening” toothpastes did indeed used to contain whitening agents – notably hydrogen peroxide.  And this was prominently advertised on the sides of these packets – “contains baking soda and peroxide.”

These came on the market perhaps a decade ago or so, and seemed a terrific idea.  Peroxide is an excellent bleaching agent which decomposes to oxygen and water, so it leaves no residues behind.

But now, they have all disappeared.  And that’s all brands.  There used to be half a dozen different options as a choice for whitening toothpaste, all of which contained baking soda and peroxide.

So what happened?

Well, in the world of consumer marketing, the appearance of performance is more important than performance itself.  And no doubt some bright spark in marketing for one of the companies decided that since they now had the market, they could cheapen the products by cutting out the baking soda and peroxide but still leaving all the bright and pretty colours on the outer packaging.

They figure that most people don’t comb through the ingredients and therefore the peroxide would not be missed by anyone.

This happens a lot – once a company gets a market, they reduce the quality to make it easier for them to make money, as the formulation is now cheaper.  They just hope that no one notices.

I didn’t.  I was surprised by the CHOICE article as toothpastes with these products most certainly did exist in the recent past. Did one brand change formula and the others follow? Don’t know.

So there you go – get an el cheapo toothpaste – don’t waste your money on the more pricey brands with the pretty packaging..

Jetstar – appalling customer service

My wife recently found herself stranded on the Gold Coast, having missed her flight due to a malfunctioning GPS.

She was stuck in a strange city, with no flight, no accomodation, and no transport – and with a 3mth old baby in her arms.

The level of customer service she received from the staff at Jetstar was nothing short of appalling. They were rude, unhelpful, and thoroughly incompetent. Due to the appalling level of service we were shown, we finished up considerably out of pocket, as we attempted to make alternative arrangements.

When I complained to Jetstar, their “Manager Customer Experience”, one Michael Mirabito, assured me that this level of service was normal for Jetstar, and that they had done nothing wrong.

But of course “customer experience” does not imply “customer service” does it…..

Jetstar – never again!

BTW, it appears my experience is not unique. Also here and here

The Myth of Organic Food

We are manipulated by advertising every day in ways that we don’t know.

Advertisers who want to sell us things clamour for the right to use certain buzz words in their product placement.  And a recent example of this is the use of the term “free range” when speaking about eggs.  The idea is of course that people will support farmers who let their chickens roam free, rather than keeping them up in a battery, and buy their eggs.

Have you ever had three term “free range” defined?

Well, according to the Australian egg board, a farm qualifies as free range if they have up to 20,000 chooks per hectare.  Given that a hectare is 10,000 m², this equates to a density of two chooks per square metre.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t know how freely a chook may roam if it can’t go more than half a metre without bumping into another one.

And it’s the same story with “organic” food.

We go into supermarkets and we see ordinary bananas, and then in a packet all by themselves they “organic” bananas.  And these days we even have “organic” butter.

Can anyone tell me what this means?  I honestly have no idea.

You see, all bananas are organic.  By “organic” I am simply referring to its formal chemical definition.  All chemistry is divided into two broad categories – organic and inorganic.  Organic chemistry refers to carbon compounds (the chemistry of living things) and inorganic chemistry refers to metals, salts, and everything else.

Well, bananas are carbohydrates, and by any definition of the term, carbohydrates are organic.

Does “organic” means pesticide free?  Well, then simply say it is “pesticide free” Does it mean that they are grown without the addition of any fertilisers?  If this is indeed the case, I don’t understand why they think that would make them any better – in fact, the opposite is the case.

By the way, most fertilisers are actually made from air, believe it or not, but that’s a story for another day.

So, “organic” bananas and butter are no different from non-– organic bananas and butter (how can a banana de non-organic?).

In fact, I know of a bloke who runs a fruit shop, and when some of his produce is starting to look a bit old, he puts it in a separate tray, doubles the price, and calls them “organic”

So next time you see something advertised as “organic” why don’t you ask the person who is selling it what it means?  I’d be curious to hear some answers.