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The power

30 May 2024

There are two parts to today's column and they both involve power -- but two very different types of power.

Firstly, I read this story on the RNZ website yesterday

Well it's "IToldYaSo" time again because for a couple of decades now, I've been warning that the government has been extracting far too much in the way of dividends from its ownership of power assets. This over-payment of dividends has amounted to nothing more than an additional tax on Kiwis.

All non-governmental profit-focused businesses recognise the importance of setting aside some of their profits for maintenance and future expansion, that's how responsible and effective business management functions.

Instead of doing this, and creating a fund for future expansion, successive governments have been sucking its energy SOEs dry leaving them with nothing to spend on the inevitable capital expenditure required for future growth.

As a result of this greed, it looks as if consumers are going to be facing very significant (in the order of 15 percent) price hikes to fund that growth.

If a privately held non-monopoly business tried this they'd go broke but here we're talking about a government owned monopoly so they can dip into consumers' pockets with impunity. After all, do you see another national grid provider out there you can switch to?

Anyone who didn't see this coming was either stupid, or made the mistake of not reading this column on a regular basis (which makes them stupid anyway) :-)

So prepare for more price rises folks and perhaps I'll take a deeper look in future columns at the true cost of energy independence -- since that's just about the only way you'll be able to dodge this huge level of indirect taxation and ever-increasing prices.

Now for a different kind of power...

As part of my daily food intake I ingest a vitamin supplement.

Since Parkinson's has adversely affected my ability to swallow, I'm not a great fan of multivitamin pills because they're usually quite large and tend to cause significant issues when I try to get them down. For this reason, I've opted for a multivitamin powder in the form of a product sold under the "Clinicians" brand and manufactured by Douglas Pharmecuticals.

I've been using this stuff for years and it comes with the added benefit that even with my significantly reduced sense of taste, it provides a pleasant citrus sensation when consumed. Although they suggest it can be mixed with water or juice, the reality is that all attempts to do so end in failure -- it just creates snotty lumps and does not dissolve so instead I just take a teaspoon of it in what's called "dryscooping".

A couple of weeks ago I was nearing the end of a jar of the stuff so I ordered another from The Chemist Warehouse. When it arrived I did what I always do and poured the few grams of powder from the old jar into the newly opened one.

Hmmm... that's odd, all previous jars of this stuff were bright yellow but I noticed a distinct difference in colour as I poured the remains of the old into the new. The new jar of this powder was a much darker colour and brownish rather than yellow.

I tried a teaspoon of the stuff and... OMG! Even though (as I said) my sense of taste is significantly attenuated, this new batch was foul beyond belief. Not a fresh tangy citrus zest but a rancid burnt taste that actually lingered long after I'd spat the stuff down the sink.

Obviously a bad batch... perhaps it was over-baked during the drying process and burnt.

I contacted Chemist Warehouse and initially got no response so I also emailed Douglas Pharmeceuticals.

When Douglas resonded, I could not believe what they said.

To paraphrase "Yeah, we've had complaints but we don't care. It's because we sometimes have to use different orange flavouring. Just mix it with some fruit juice to make it less revolting. Thanks and goodbye."


Fortunately, The Chemist Warehouse finally responded and sent me a shipping label to return the faulty product with a promise of refund or replacement.

However, I was gobsmacked at the response from Douglas so I thought I'd do something I don't often do and that is -- leverage my social media clout.

I advised them that I do have quite a bit of reach on platforms such as YouTube (400+K subscribers) and that I felt their response was woefully poor. If they weren't interested in addressing the issues surrounding a really bad batch of their product and simply had a "sucks to be you" attitude then I'd make a video where I invite random people off the street to try the product, whilst I film their grimacing reaction to its taste and post it on YouTube.

Well wouldn't you know it but within a very short space of time I had a reply -- offering me a full refund of my purchase and apologising that their initial response was perhaps not all it could have been. Sorry Douglas Pharmeceuticals, you only get one chance to make a first impression and I wasn't attempting to blackmail you to get my money back, only to make you aware of how poorly you handled this.

If I was just a nobody -- I'd have been left high and dry (The Chemist Warehouse offer notwithstanding).

I do appreciate that my contract was with Chemist Warehouse so ultimately it is their responsibility to correct any defective product situation but the response of Douglas has definitely soured me to purchasing any more of their product.

On reflection, I think there's more value to be had to make my "public reacts" video than to return the product. I'll earn some coin from it and the public can be educated to the attitudes of a major pharmeceutical company when dealing with "joe average consumer".

Full marks to The Chemist Warehouse, no marks at all to Douglas Pharmeceuticals and more power to social media!

Now I have to find an alternative product from a more reliable manufacturer that recognises the importance of customer satisfaction.

Carpe Diem folks!

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