When Consumer Complains About Sexist Socks, Don’t Question The Airflow To Her Genitals

The math-hating socks at the heart of this story.

The math-hating socks at the heart of this story.

When you own a business, especially one that sells supposedly sassy socks and other items with humorous quips on them, you have to expect the occasional complaint when an attempt at humor goes over like a lead balloon. And even though you disagree with a person’s gripe, it’s best if you don’t accidentally forward her an internal e-mail calling her a “crazy bitch” and then follow it up with a message telling her to un-bunch her panties to “get some air up there.”

But this is apparently what happened to blogger and math teacher Cindy when she complained to a company called BlueQ about a pair of their socks with a design that reads “The three things I hate the most are math.”

Cindy wrote in detail about her problems with these socks, which only appear to be targeted to females, as they seem to further the ill-informed, outdated notion that women and math don’t mix.

“I hate everything you stand for and your stupid, ugly, antifeminist, socks,” she wrote. “Especially the math one.”

BlueQ could have simply ignored this complaint or sent back a polite, “We’re sorry that you feel this way” e-mail and that probably would have been the end of it.

But the response, as documented in a follow-up post on Cindy’s blog, attempts to counter the anger in her complaint with some nastiness of its own.

“We’re always receptive to hearing our customer’s comments,” it begins, pleasantly enough. “But your venomous delivery pulls the rug out from under your arguments. -It’s hard to wade through your bile to see if there’s a valid point worth considering.

“You may need a refresher course in lightening up at your local community college.”

Even if you agree with the BlueQ owner’s position, his response only serves to heighten the tension and draw more eyes to a complaint very few people would have ever seen.

And you can’t defend his — presumably accidental — inclusion in the e-mail of an earlier message from an employee where she refers to Cindy as a “crazy bitch.”

We get it — name-calling is nothing new in intra-office customer service e-mails. Just don’t forward that name-calling on to the actual person who complained.

Not surprisingly, the BlueQ response didn’t exactly go over well with Cindy.

“You told me to ‘lighten up’ at a ‘local community college.'” she replies. “Your usage of the phrase ‘local community college’ must mean to insinuate that that is the best I could possibly hope for: acceptance to a community college. Congratulations on your failed attempt to simultaneously insult my intelligence and good institutions of higher education and all they strive to do.”

“I don’t know what fancy and expensive private college you went to,” she continues, “but I wonder if you enrolled in any business classes, because clearly, you haven’t learned a thing.”

Cindy then offers several examples of how BlueQ could have responded to her initial complaint that don’t involve calling her a crazy bitch.

Here are two examples, many of the statements actually taken from the owner’s lengthy response, Cindy gives that she feels would have been more acceptable:

“Ms. Phillips, we are sorry you found our product offensive, and not to your taste. We at BlueQ take great pride in our products and our design. Thank you for your thoughts; we will take this into consideration in the future. Blue Q is a kind company. We’re the area’s largest local employer of individuals with disabilities. We take garbage out of the waste stream and make reusable plastic bags. We donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to the environment and world health organizations. We coddle and care for our employees”

Or

“Ms. Phillips, we are sorry you found our product offensive, and not to your taste. We of course feel that math is something that young women should study and be proud to study. Blue Q is a kind company….blah, blah, blah…We coddle and care for our employees.”

To which, according to Cindy, the company’s owner replied:

Ms. Phillips,

MAN your panties are in a bunch!
Get some air up there!

Cindy tells Consumerist that his has been the end of her communications with the company.

We’ve tried reaching out to BlueQ by e-mail but have yet to hear back. If we do, we’ll update this story.

Meanwhile, the company’s Twitter account has been doing a much better job of not calling customers crazy bitches or expressing concerns about the amount of air getting to their crotches.

When one Twitter user expressed his concerns about the math-related sock, BlueQ responded that “Some women hate math. Some men hate it, too. Dumb has nothing to do with it. BlueQ is full of smart women – with a sense of humor.”

Regardless of your position on the topic, that is certainly a more measured response than any given by the company’s owner.

And even after that Twitter user continued to debate that BlueQ’s socks were contributing to the “pervasive, corrosive message in our culture that girls aren’t good at math,” the company ultimately replied with a polite “Point taken and sincerely appreciated. Thanks for fighting the good fight!”

Had the company’s Twitter account been put in charge of responding to Cindy’s initial complaint, we probably wouldn’t be discussing the company right now.