As regular readers of this blog will know, I sometimes have a problem dealing with stress. It takes me a while to process difficult issues or situations and the resulting stress manifests in a number of ways physically on my body: eczema, migraines, coldsores, back seizing up, and ulcers to name the top five.
When these things occur I have to fight both the cause of the stress and the manifestation, and so over the years I’ve collected an arsenal of tablets, potions and creams in my medicine cabinet to help me attack each specific symptom.
My system has been working perfectly… until recently. I developed a bad mouth ulcer over the last couple of weeks (hope this isn’t grossing anyone out, by the way). When I reached for my trusty bottle of Applicaine Solution ™, which I’ve been using to successfully treat mouth ulcers for over ten years, I discovered the little bottle was completely dry.
No problem, I thought, I’ll just go to the chemist and get another one. But I tried several chemists and no one seemed to stock it. When I took my old bottle to one chemist to show them, they took a quick look and said, “You realise it expired in March 2007? Maybe they don’t make it any more. It’s probably discontinued.”
Discontinued. The very word fills me with dread. I don’t know about you but whenever I find out my favourite products are discontinued I feel as though my life will never be the same again.
Back at the chemist, I was devastated. Applicaine Solution has always been my go-to always-works answer to mouth ulcers. What do they mean they don’t make it any more? They have to make it! I need them to make it!
I was offered options. I bought a new liquid solution that not only tastes awful, it looks disgusting. It’s a grainy brown liquid, which tends to dribble down my chin when being applied. Applicaine Solution never tasted awful. It never dribbled.
The whole episode has made me think of other times in my life when an item that I know and love and trust to be always available to me has been discontinued and how devastated I’ve been.
There was the famous Poppy lipstick incident of the 1990s, for example. In my 20s I wore lipstick all the time. My favourite lipstick, which became synonymous with my look (such that I had one), was a Poppy lipstick in a shade called “Fantasy”. I loved that lipstick shade so much that on an occasion when they were on sale I took the opportunity to stock up and bought about six or seven of them.
Needless to say, they lasted several years. When they finally ran out, I went to Myer to buy more.
“Sorry,” I was told, “they’re out of stock.”
“Out of stock? When are you getting more?”
“Never. I meant to say they’re discontinued. Poppy went out of business.”
“Three years ago.”
I was gutted. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever recovered. I never found a shade to replace it and I stopped wearing lipstick except for very rare occasions. It was life changing.
More recently, there was the Tetley orange and cinnamon tea drama. I love herbal teas and in autumn this year I discovered an orange and cinnamon flavoured tea that was just magnificent. The perfect accompaniment to sitting by the fire with a good book on a cold winter’s day (not that I have a fire to sit by, of course, but you get the gist).
I’d only been drinking it for about two months when it suddenly disappeared from the supermarket shelves. I was mortified. I couldn’t believe it was happening again.
After a month of trying various supermarkets I’d given up. It was a short-lived love affair, I decided, but no less passionate for that. Then about a week later I walked into the one local supermarket I hadn’t tried and was elated to discover they still had several packs of the tea.
I bought ten boxes.
When I got home I immediately opened one to make a cup of tea (I’d been craving it all month) and discovered a little note from the fine people at Tetley that said they were changing the packaging of the tea and to look out for new packaging on the supermarket shelves soon.
Yes, it turns out that the tea was not disappearing forever, it was merely out of stock while they sorted out the new packaging. It wasn’t discontinued after all. Praise be to the Gods.
It’s funny that so much work and money goes into researching and achieving brand loyalty these days. My message to companies on this matter is quite simple: if you don’t discontinue my favourite products, I won’t discontinue my brand loyalty.
Meanwhile, wish me luck in applying a dribbly, brown liquid to my ulcers.