Lansinoh Preserves Customer's Faith, 163 Bags Of Breast Milk

Reader Kymberly sent Lasinoh Laboratories a concerned email after noticing that several of her 163 Lansinoh breast milk storage bags began to leak while defrosting:

I have in my deep freezer 163 bags of breast milk. I am a working mother and I rely on the frozen milk in order to ensure that my son can have breast milk while at daycare. Unfortunately I an having a problem with bags leaking. I have a serious problem with this because I pay for a product that is supposed to freeze and store milk. The bags are not much use if they leak half the milk they store while they are being thawed. As a Military member who constantly has the possibility of deployment, having a large stockpile of milk is more important to me than most. Every bag of milk that I have in the freezer is one more meal that my son will not have to come from a can.

I think that your bags need to be made of a thicker material. Gerber makes a bag that is thick and does not leak (at least the few bags I have); however, your bags have the double zipper that I find very important which is why I only used the few Gerber bag. This, of course, was long before I was aware of the leaking problem. My question now is, what do I do about the bag leaking problem, and are there thicker bags in your company’s future.

Lansinoh quickly responded:

Kymberly,

First I would like to extend my sincerest apology to you for the unpleasant experience you are having with our Milk Storage Bags. Thank you very much for notifying us of this problem. I can only imagine how frustrating and disappointing this must have been for you. This company was founded over 20 years ago by a breastfeeding mothers for the sole purpose of supporting breastfeeding and I am so sorry that one of our products has not only failed to make things easier for you but has created quite the opposite. It takes an enormous commitment to breastfeed, even more of a commitment to provide breast milk in your absence. To know that a product of ours has challenged you even further is a terrible thing for you and for all of us here at Lansinoh.

I would like to try and explain what might be the problem: Our biggest challenge is to make a bag that is strong enough while using a completely safe plastic. There are many types of plastic, most of which would be more pliable and more durable. Unfortunately, this plastic has components in it (called plasticizers) that could leach through into the milk. Only when using virgin plastic (which we do) can we be assured that the milk can be stored safely with no possibility of an undesired element being released from the plastic. Virgin plastic is more rigid and when the milk freezes, it places more stress on the plastic. The development of a breast milk storage bag has been a long and costly project for us, but we are determined to deliver a quality bag made of virgin plastic.

I would like to try and help you salvage the milk you have frozen now. I can get a supply of our bags sent to you for you to use to ‘double bag’ the milk you are defrosting so that if they do continue to leak, you can at least catch your milk in something sterile so that it does not go to waste. I just need to know approximately how many bags you currently have frozen. I would also like to send you an additional supply of bags to use going forward, or if you prefer, a refund.

Again, I am sorry for the trouble this has caused and if you have any questions or if I could be of any further assistance please feel free to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you soon.”

Sincerely,

Machesha Hasty
Lansinoh Laboratories
Consumer Relations

Excellent response. Personalized, direct, and complete with a clear solution that assuages all of Kymberly’s concerns. Kymberly was so satisfied that she wrote: “If I wasn’t a loyal customer already, this is what would have made the difference.”

Comments

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  1. newlywed says:

    too cool! a+ response, especially the offer of a monetary refund.

  2. myuu says:

    Now that is kick ass customer service.

  3. faust1200 says:

    “I have in my deep freezer 163 bags of breast milk.” What a coincidence me too!

  4. drkkgt says:

    Thanks for this, my wife is currently having the exact same problem with the exact same bags.

  5. spinachdip says:

    If the Consumerist ever has a “Best Companies” tourney to go with the worst company one, Lansinoh gets the #1 seed, I think.

  6. Alvis says:

    Whoa, capital “M” military. That’s the SERIOUS kind.

  7. Trai_Dep says:

    So I guess using condoms to store baby’s milk is a bad idea?

    Beyond the fact of producing it then feeding a baby its contents in public, that is.

  8. dokieartiechokie says:

    Fantastic customer service. Consumerist rules for showing the really great along with the really awful.

  9. SOhp101 says:

    Kick ass? It’s sad when our expectations of a company are so low that we think a refund for selling a failing product is amazing.

    Seems more like a scam than first rate customer service. How many other mothers are experiencing the exact same problem but just throw away the rest of the bags? Maybe they should start selling these things on infomercials… but wait! Call in the next five minutes and get twice the number of bags for the same price!!!

  10. Ickypoopy says:

    @SOhp101:
    You are absolutely right.

    They have done approximately the minimum of what should be expected. They have offered to rectify the current situation (double-bagging) and offered replacement/refund.

    Furthermore, they did not address the problem going forward. If she buys more bags, they are going to have the same problem. The response did not reflect that there would be a change to future product, nor a suggestion on how to prevent it from happening. Or was the suggestion to buy twice the product that should be needed?

    Good on actually coming through and handling the situation. But we need to see the product fixed for the future.

  11. 82300sd says:

    How long does one have to pump their breasts for 163 bags of milk?

  12. faust1200 says:

    @82300sd: I think there are some cows in Wisconsin that would be intimidated by that output.

  13. hubris says:

    @faust1200: Depends on how old the kid is and how big the bags are. Though, even then, that’s pretty impressive.

    And my god, shouldn’t people proofread before they send things? Yeesh.

  14. micksweet says:

    We had this same problem with these bags, and there is an easy fix:

    When putting milk bags in the freezer, they must be laid flat. If they are put in the freezer standing upright, then all milk pools at the bottom, and when it freezes and expands it splits the seams. In the picture, you can see that Kimberly’s bags were clearly frozen standing up. If the bag is frozen while lying flat the milk is distributed evenly and the seams do not split.

    I hope this helps.

  15. sly100100 says:

    I didn’t read anything about them working on the problem or even suggesting that they were working on fixing it.
    Replacement bags and doubling the bags is a start but it sounds like all they offered was a reason why they leak. If you know why it is leaking then they should be able to design something that doesn’t leak.
    And are the replacement bags going to leak to?
    Maybe she should try Gerber again, at least they don’t leak.

  16. LikwidFlux says:

    Not to sound rude, but is this a human or a cow?

    I mean how much milk does one woman produce?!?

  17. Katharine says:

    It doesn’t sound like a personalized response to me. I think they have a ready made one because they are use to people complaining because the bags leak for everyone. I don’t think they went “above and beyond” for this one.

  18. pegr says:

    Micksweet: Spot on, good call.

    Otherwise, salvaging the leaky bags is a bit questionable if you want to maintain sterility/sanitation, as the inside of the bags may be clean, but the outsides have been handled and exposed to the contents of the freezer. Putting a leaking bad into another contaminates the recovered milk. If good sanitation was maintained in packaging the milk kin the first place, these concerns may be minor, admittedly.

  19. Yourhero88 says:

    @Ickypoopy: And i believe you are right for saying HE was right.

    It’s a sad day when basic human decency is considered excellent customer service. This isn’t above and beyond, this is exactly what she should get.

  20. homerjay says:

    @Yourhero88: That would be spot on if every company satisfied the basic needs of their customers like this one did, but now-a-days so few do. When compared to the whole, this is above and beyond. When compared to what SHOULD be, this is nothing special.

  21. Gopher bond says:

    She’s doing it wrong. The directions even state that your supposed to freeze them flat, in fact, it’s a selling point of the product.

  22. juri squared says:

    For all you people with the somewhat offensive “cow” comments: breast milk is fairly easy to stockpile. If you pump milk, your breasts will make more to keep up with demand. If you do it every day for a couple months, you can stockpile quite a bit of milk.

    Keep in mind also that those bags are pretty small. We’re talking about ounces, not gallons. Sheesh.

  23. savvy9999 says:

    kudos to Lasinoh for being tactful and not pointing out the obvious, that Military Mom is indeed freezing and storing the bags of milk incorrectly.

    As a dad who took care of this part (mom pumped, I put the milk away and cleaned the machine & parts), we never once had problems with bags breaking or leaking if they were stored correctly the first time. They should lay flat on top of each other. And they should be marked with the amount in the bag with the date, since once it’s flat and frozen the ‘quantity’ markings aren’t useful. I’d also wonder with that much milk, how she rotates it correctly (first in, first out), so that old milk doesn’t sit there for months. I hope that’s a stock photo, b/c that bin looks like a mess.

    A little bit of RTFM and better organization will fix her problem in the future. Sounds like she’s trying to do the right thing, but missing that last little step to make it work.

  24. Trai_Dep says:

    Can’t quite make it out in the picture, but nestled next to the mom’s milk is her husband’s equally prostigeous backup supply of frozen sperm.

    Hey, kids: don’t get the bags mixed up!!

  25. rrapynot says:

    My wife used these bags and never had a problem. Perhaps Kymberly wasn’t sealing them carefully enough?

  26. King of the Wild Frontier says:

    Perhaps it would be easier to preserve the milk if she made cheese from it.

  27. bbbici says:

    @LikwidFlux:

    Yes, this woman sounds like a milk machine. I don’t know why, but the concept of milking your own body and stockpiling the output makes me gag.

    Why doesn’t she just use mason jars?

  28. spinachdip says:

    @bbbici: Because breast milk goes bad. Like cow milk, but quicker.

    But really, pumping is a necessity for mothers who can’t be with their babies 24 hours a day, but want to give them the best food in the world.

  29. E-Bell says:

    @jurijuri:

    Yeah, but 163 bags? That’s a shit-ton of milk.

    My wife is pumping right now to keep up with our son’s demand and it’s all she can do to make 4 4-oz. bottles a day.

  30. AnneCA says:

    It is a very impressive stash (probably 600-700 oz. total), but for some women it’s not that hard to do. Pumping output varies a lot from woman to woman. The most I ever had in my deep freeze was about 500 oz., and, yes, it was all frozen flat and stacked in bins for a good easy FIFO system.

    Look, all bags will leak sometimes. I’ve had some Lansinoh bags leak, and I’ve had some Gerber bags leak (in both cases, despite my careful freeze-flat method). It’s just part of the frozen breastmilk world. If this customer is having that much of a string of bad luck with leaking bags, then maybe she did get a bad batch somehow. The retail price of 163 new bags is about $30, and obviously the cost to Lansinoh is much lower, and it’s totally worth it to them to send her new bags.

    Although I should add that personally I think Lansinoh’s double-zipper thing is a marketing gimmick, and a nuisance to boot. Like I said, I’ve lost milk from leaky bags, but I’ve never had the leak at the zipper point. Also, I usually thawed my bags in a Pyrex measuring cup, just to avoid the potential mess in the fridge if there was a leak.

    Kudos to that mama for doing what’s best for her baby!

  31. royal72 says:

    [customer],
    First… [insert apology script]… all of us here at Lansinoh.

    I would like to explain… [why our product doesn’t work well]… virgin plastic.

    I… [hope you’re done breast feeding soon]… if you prefer, a refund.

    Again, I am sorry… [i hope this placates your complaint]

    Sincerely,
    [jane doe]

  32. HungryGrrl says:

    Women are capable of breast feeding MULTIPLE children, so producing more milk than her child needs every day is quite possible. Hey, there used to be ‘wet nurses’ who would be paid to breast feed rich women’s kids- alongside their OWN kids. If a breast feeding woman eats well and pumps regularly, she can produce lots of milk.

  33. bbbici says:

    @spinachdip:

    no, freezing the milk in jars.

  34. bnorton says:

    This is a common problem with these bags. My wife and I had the same problem after storing close to the same amount. I would say we had a 10% failure rate. We froze our bags in a much more organized way then the shown picture. All bags were lain flat while frozen and then stacked inside larger ziplock bags.

  35. K-T says:

    Let me just address some issues here. First of all i really do not think that the fact that pinkie finger has a love affair with the shift key and managed to put a caps on military is of any concern to anything.

  36. K-T says:

    And now for the rest…..

    Secondly, the cow comments are really not necessary. I started stockpiling milk while I was home on maternity leave because I was not sure how much I produce. I wanted to make sure that I had a stockpile for daycare.

    I said that I had a problem with bags leaking. I never said they all leak, and I never said that it was a majority. The way that I am storing them gives me about the fame fail rate as anyone else, obviously that isn’t the issue.

    If you actually look at the picture you will see that there are gallon sized zip top bags with dates. I write the date on the bags, I write it on a notepad that I keep in the cabinet with the bags (which is why I knew EXACTLY how many that I have), I put the small bag is a separate basket in the deep freezer, and when they freeze I put them in the dated zip top bag. I always send the earliest date to daycare.

    For those of you who obviously can’t read, she said they were going to send me back up bags for my milk, and additional bags, or a refund if I preferred. What they are doing is a nice thing and all you people want to do is crap on it, and I think that is a terrible thing.

    For all of those who mentioned the amount, I currently have 174 bags in my freezer; this does NOT include the few at daycare. I freeze 4.5oz per bag which translates to 783ozs total. All of the bags are from August, September, and now October.

    The sperm comment, unnecessary and gross. Grow up

    P.S. All you grammar freaks can lay off as well

  37. K-T says:

    Let me just address some issues here. First of all I really do not think that the fact that pinkie finger has a love affair with the shift key and managed to put a caps on military is of any concern to anything.

    Secondly, the cow comments are really not necessary. I started stockpiling milk while I was home on maternity leave because I was not sure how much I produce. I wanted to make sure that I had a stockpile for daycare.

    I said that I had a problem with bags leaking. I never said they all leak, and I never said that it was a majority. The way that I am storing them gives me about the fame fail rate as anyone else, obviously that isn’t the issue.

    If you actually look at the picture you will see that there are gallon sized zip top bags with dates. I write the date on the bags, I write it on a notepad that I keep in the cabinet with the bags (which is why I knew EXACTLY how many that I have), I put the small bag is a separate basket in the deep freezer, and when they freeze I put them in the dated zip top bag. I always send the earliest date to daycare.

    For those of you who obviously can’t read, she said they were going to send me back up bags for my milk, and additional bags, or a refund if I preferred. What they are doing is a nice thing and all you people want to do is crap on it, and I think that is a terrible thing.

    For all of those who mentioned the amount, I currently have 174 bags in my freezer; this does NOT include the few at daycare. I freeze 4.5oz per bag which translates to 783ozs total. All of the bags are from August, September, and now October.

    The sperm comment, unnecessary and gross. Grow up

  38. K-T says:

    Btw, I just got the shipment of bags. FYI the package does not say they need to be stored flat is says “Can be stored flat in freezer…”

  39. thalia says:

    Good on them. But seriously, how long do you have to pump to get that much milk? Yikes!

    By the way, I don’t store milk, but I have often had issues with leaky bags while storing wet foods in the freezer. I found that if you lay them flat to freeze, they are less likely to get leaks or holes punched in them (and it’s also much easier to store, since they fit in your freezer much nicer and end up leaving you more room than you thought you had!)