“Our remarks were appropriate.” —Email to me from Don Wands
I knew this Don Wands fiasco was not over when I woke up to 16 new emails. Two bloggers, Miss KissThis and Amber of Divergent Dance, emailed Don Wands yesterday and expressed their disappointment about Don’s comment on my review of the Treeze Wave. They both received replies from Don Wands today (read about MKT’s here), as did I (I emailed them alerting them to my response post and asked for them to address this issue).
Their email to me, from someone named “Chuck,” asked me to remove my response post (um, no) and specified that their email was “off the record” and for my eyes only. As you might imagine, only a certain type of email would warrant such a clause, so I quickly went to work trying to figure out how much of the email I could legally post. D of Narration by D is a lawyer, and his thoughts on the situation were as follows:
Asking you to not print something is a request, which cannot be legally enforced. Same thing as me telling you a secret, and you telling someone else. I’ll get pissed, but can’t sue you.
Scarlet St. Syr also pointed me to this article, in which the in-house lawyer for The Guardian contends that “off the record” information can be printed “if the information disclosed is sufficiently in the public interest to warrant publication.” Considering I have received a plethora of tweets asking for updates on the situation, and considering the overwhelming response to my last post, I’d say the public interest is high. I do write a blog about sex toys after all, and this is a rather well-known sex toy manufacturer digging itself a deeper hole.
Now, before Don Wands comes to chew me out for not presenting the whole picture, I want to acknowledge that some things they have said in subsequent comments/emails seem semi-genuinely apologetic. However, these apologies are often tied up in sentences that, well, tend to invalidate them, such as: “Please accept my apologies for the poorly worded defense of our efforts to bring a new product to market for the consumer.”
Most telling, though, is that one sentence from their email to me: “Our remarks were appropriate.”
For the most part, it looks like all we’re getting is apologies with caveats. Apologies that point the finger, sometimes quite subtlely, to me and my readers. Backhanded apologies. And the people at Don Wands are using the same tropes repeatedly in their responses, which shows that they really stand behind these tropes. That is what I find scary.
Although these quotes are all representative of Don Wands, I believe they are coming from at least two people. “Don” is the one responding in the comments section; “Chuck” is the one who responded to me; and I don’t know who responded to MKT and Amber (no name was at the bottom of the emails to them).
Without further ado, the points that those at Don Wands have made repeatedly…
alphabitch started it! (The very strange assumption that the comment by alphabitch, directly under Don’s comment, was what spurred this whole thing.)
Alphabitch was incorrect in her characterization, if this is the reason, we are sorry you feel this way. — Email to MKT
Alphabitach was way over the line in her response. Her interpretation was a complete incorrect characterization of the intent of our response. It became a group think, women against a corporation. — Email to me
Yes, clearly everyone only thought your comment was rude because alphabitch said so. I don’t blame you. Women are sheep.
Epiphora’s review is to blame.
We appreciate unbiased reviews, the comments we found were rather negative for no apparent reasons. — Email response to me
The whole review is a list of reasons.
In fact, we are a very small midwest company that can be hurt by poorly worded reviews, we don’t expect lies, but words that are accurate from research are anticipated. — Email to me
Oooh, now I get it. You wanted me to conduct a full scientific study before posting my review! Then I would be qualified to write about your products.
A side note, we noticed that a competitive product was cited in our review and it is advertised on your site, this does show bias. — Email to me
I wasn’t aware that you were in charge of how I should format my reviews, so this is interesting information!
I also wasn’t aware that my job as a reviewer was to avoid bias. I’ll work on making every reviewer’s vagina or penis work in the exact same way so we can remedy this horrific situation.
We are a very small company and reviews that are unbiased mean a lot to us, this had a rather negative tone to our company . . . — Email to Amber
Oh really? My only mention of Don Wands, as a company, in the review:
Don Wands would like you to believe that this vibrator is made entirely of wood (hence “Treeze”…), but the truth is easily uncovered: it’s a wood/urethane hybrid. I’m proud of their unabashedness (the material type is not hidden in a small font or anything) . . .
So that first sentence was a playful dig, yet I went on to praise the fact that their packaging clearly states the material. Nothing else in the review even mentions the company.
Just kidding; the review is fine. We were actually responding to the backlash that hadn’t yet occured.
we were responding to the negative responses that were piled on about the company’s efforts and not the review of the features. — Email to Amber
Our remarks were in response to several negative remarks toward the company and our efforts, not the review of the features of the products. — Email to MKT
We are a manufacturer and have volunteered to have our products reviewed for their merits and faults, not to have our company’s attempts to advertise a new product put into question. — Email to me
Actually, you did. You posted your comment as a public comment on a public review on a public blog. By the way, your “attempts” wouldn’t have been questioned if they had been phrased in a nice manner.
We apologize for your reaction!
we apologize if you were offended. — Email to MKT
We regret anything that was taken as condescending. — Email to me
We regret anything that may have offended you. — Email to Amber
Please accept that nothing personal was meant by the comments and we accept responsibility for your feelings. — Comment on the response post
the fever that has ensued over a few poorly worded sentences is a bit much. —Comment on the response post
As one of my Twitter followers said, “it’s not ‘sorry we made a mistake,’ it’s ‘sorry you’re clueless!'” So much for “the customer is always right.” When you have a large group of people agreeing that what you said was rude, you should probably take responsibility for what you said. This is precisely where Don Wands veered off the path completely. I don’t care how wrong they think my readers and I were in our response — they had an opportunity to truly apologize, and they flunked.
I am not going to make a blanket statement about how my readers should react to any of this, nor am I prepared to make a decision about my future relationship with Don Wands products. If you have read this and the subsequent comments “Don” posted, I trust you to make your own decision about his and the company’s integrity.
The email to me from “Chuck” ended this way:
Simply stated, we are very sorry. If there is anything else you would like us to do to remedy this incident, we are open to your suggestion.
So, readers — do you have any ideas I should pass along? Other than, you know, “find yourself a time machine”?