Who could know that buying the wrong toilet paper could have such disastrous consequences? When Brian Legget’s wife accidentally picked up a pack of Charmin Basic, little did she realise that it would cost her her life.1 If only she had bought the Ultra Strong as she usually did….. This letter is not for the squeamish.
Submitted via the Contact Form on the Charmin website:
Dear Customer Relations,
I am a big fan of your Ultra Strong toilet paper, have been for years.
I am what some people might call “robust” in size, and this TP2 meets my needs. We have chili every Thursday night, and come Friday morning your product has never let me down. Which is saying a lot, because I can destroy most toilets with my chili shits.
That being said, my wife recently purchased some Charmin Basic by mistake, and it lead to a series of unfortunate events.
I had just gotten out of bed and was getting ready for work and had the urge to take care of some backdoor business if you catch my drift. I was reading my ‘Field & Stream’3 as I normally do and when I went to do my “paperwork” things took a turn for the worse. I was unaware that my regular TP had been replaced with your one ply version (which should be renamed John Wayne TP, since it is rough, tough, and doesn’t take shit off of nobody).
In the heat of the moment a tear developed in the middle of the piece I was using.
Unfortunately my middle, and longest, finger broke through like a torpedo breaching the hull of a submarine, and fully penetrated my anus. I’m not talking just barely broke the plane, like a running back diving for the end zone, I mean full on, second knuckle deep penetration.
In all of the excitement I jumped up and hit my head on my toilet rack (it’s real nice, made out of bamboo, got it from the Fingerhut)4 and then tripped on the bathmat and fell into the tub5 and as a result blew out my disc between my L4 and L5 vertebrae.6
During the commotion the shampoo also got knocked over and spilled all over the bathroom floor. All of the racket startled my wife of 27 years from her sleep. She came running in to check on me and slipped on the shampoo on the floor and hit her head on the counter and, bless her soul, passed away as a result.
It took me two hours to get out of that god-forsaken tub and to my wife’s side. Unfortunately the last thing she saw was her husband with his pants around his ankles, in the bathtub, holding up an outstretched, poo-covered finger.
It haunts me every day.
I am also no longer able to go down the toiletry aisle in the local Walmart7 as it brings back too many traumatic memories. All of this could have been avoided if you would
a) better differentiate your packaging and
b) make a one ply toilet paper with more tensile strength than wet tissue paper.
I sincerely hope that you will fix these issues, or give me $100,000 for compensation.
So, the good folks at Proctor and Gamble North America (manufacturers of Charmin) were faced with a dilemma. Should they take Brian’s complaint at face value or dismiss it as a hoax? Could Brian’s dear wife have really passed away beside the bathtub in such traumatic circumstances? They decided to play it safe:
From: “P&G North America” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, Oct 4, 2013 at 12:40 PM
Subject: Thank you for contacting Charmin. [ ref:_00D70JViV._50070WJLly:ref ]
To: Brian Leggett
Thanks for contacting us about Charmin Basic, Brian.
I’m so very sorry to hear about your recent experience, and I’ve shared your report with our Health & Safety Team and others within P&G. Please accept our sincere condolences on the passing of your wife.
After reading your message, I think it would be best if we talked with you to get more details. Please reply to this message with your complete name and postal address, as well as your phone number and the best time to call you between 9am and 6pm EST.
It’s important to know our products and packages are thoroughly evaluated to be safe when used as directed. Additionally, we maintain an ongoing safety monitoring program to assure the highest standards of safety and quality.
As for our bathroom tissue products, we appreciate your loyalty to our 2-ply Charmin Ultra Strong. I’m glad it suits your needs, and I regret you’re not equally pleased with Charmin Basic as it’s designed to have just the right balance of softness and strength. It’s white and unscented, like our other bathroom tissue versions, but Basic is our only 1-ply tissue. Charmin Ultra Strong’s package features bold, red highlights, while our Charmin Basic wrapper has orangish-yellow graphics and pink lettering. I’m letting our Charmin Team know you’d like to see additional package differentiation between versions.
Please save any remaining unused Charmin Basic product and its package in case we need to retrieve them. Meanwhile, we recommend you contact your doctor who will be able to give you the best advice.
Hope to hear from you again soon.
Sadly for Brian, there was no sign of the $100,000 dollars compensation but if there are further developments, they will no doubt appear here soon. Thanks to Brian for sharing this with DCR.
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Not really, at least we don’t think so ↩
Brian likes his toilet paper so much he knows it affectionately by its initials ↩
For UK readers: ‘Field and Stream’ is a magazine for people who, basically, like to hunt and fish. It includes truly fascinating articles including ‘How to De-Bone a Deer in 8 Minutes’, ‘How to Cook Black Bear Porchetta’ and ‘Everyday Adaptions of the AR15 Assault Rifle’. There are also photographs of scantily-clad young ladies with impressively large fish. Yes, fish ↩
For UK readers: Fingerhut has nothing to do with fingers or huts and is in fact a catalogue and online retailer founded in 1948 by William Fingerhut and his brother Manny (though it wasn’t online then, obviously). All it sold was seat covers. This didn’t have huge growth potential so in 1952, the business re-positioned itself to a mail order catalog company and diversified its goods to include towels, dishes, and tools. It is presently headquartered in Minneapolis. Basically, it is a buy now, pay later retailer selling cheap crap. Think Poundstretcher meets Argos on tick ↩
For UK readers: Tub is American for bath ↩
L4 and L5: The fourth and fifth lumbar vertabrae. The fifth lumbar vertebra is characterised by its body being much deeper in front than behind, which accords with the prominence of the sacrovertebral articulation; by the smaller size of its spinous process; by the wide interval between the inferior articular processes, and by the thickness of its transverse processes, which spring from the body as well as from the pedicles. The fifth lumbar vertebra is by far the most common site of spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis. But you knew that didn’t you ↩
For UK readers: Of course, Walmart is the US equivalent to ASDA. In fact, they now own ASDA ↩