Unilever's Insensitive Solutions For Customers With Sensitive Skin

Unilever is a massive conglomerate that sells a huge variety of products, but you can’t get that big and successful without listening to your customers’ needs. Right? Alissa tells Consumerist that she recently learned how close attention the company pays to customer complaints when she complained about the sudden addition of fragrance to a product marketed to people with sensitive skin. The company took two days to send a response that might as well have been written by a robot, and made it clear that no one even read her complaint–let alone cared about it.

I have been a Consumerist reader for quite some time but this is the first time I’ve been motivated to write about a bad experience with a company. Thankfully, this isn’t a situation that cost me a large amount of money or a lot of inconvenience. However, I still think it’s worth shining the light on a company that doesn’t actually listen to their customers.

I have used Dove deodorant for sensitive skin for the last few years. I use it because it is free of dye and perfumes and my dermatologist recommended it to me because of my sensitive skin. A few weeks ago, I purchased the Dove Deodorant Sensitive Skin and when I opened it at home I detected the distinct scent of melon. I was reluctant to use it because the smell indicated that it must contain some perfume or artificial scent. I purchased a replacement product that day and e-mailed Unilever to alert them to what was probably a production/packaging problem.

I received a response 2 days later (pasted below).

Hello MS. ALISSA [LASTNAME],

Thanks for writing!

We apologize that you were unhappy with the fragrance of the Dove Anti-Perspirant/Deodorant. We realize that fragrance preference is highly individual. This product is available in several fragrances.

Thank you for providing your complete address, as we are sending you a coupon to try another variety of the Dove Anti-Perspirant/Deodorant. In addition, we intend to share your comments with the Brand Manager.

Thanks for your interest!
Your friends at Dove

As you will notice, they didn’t admit any mistakes and only promised to notify the brand manager as a corrective action. Fast forward a week and I receive an envelope in the mail from Unilever. Guess what they sent me: a coupon for a free Degree deodorant. I was actually speechless. A coupon for a scented deodorant not made for sensitive skin is actually as useless as the original purchase.

The main reason this situation irritated me was because I could have had a bad reaction to the product had I not noticed the scent, and Unilever sends back a form letter e-mail with a useless coupon as a response. Not only that, if there are production problems, I have no confidence that Unilever has done anything to correct them, potentially putting others at risk. Thanks for listening.

Calling the customer service number might have yielded a better result…but maybe that line is also staffed by robots that listen for keywords, as well. We’d recommend taking the product back to the store. Notifying Unilever was the correct thing to be…or have been, if the company actually cared.