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Energizer Public Relations

(Or How NOT to Relate to Customers)


The last time I went grocery shoping I stopped at the battery shelf and found that Energizer has made some a new range of alkaline batteries it says use "Titanium Technology," whatever that may be. They were quite a bit more expensive than their normal alkaline batteries, so I didn't buy any. However, each packet mentioned a web site, so I checked it out: www.energizer-e2.com. Update: The site no longer works! It just has a log-in screen for... well... something.

I didn't find any particularly good technical information there, but did find out that the battery range had apparently been released only a few days earlier. Instead, this answer from their FAQ, if anything, bugged me.

Q. How does this compare to regular Energizer batteries? Which should I buy?

A. Energizer e2 is specifically designed for people who want the assurance that they are getting the most from a battery, beyond even superior performance. Energizer® is the long-lasting battery that keeps going and going, offering consumers good performance for a good price. The products are designed to meet the different wants and needs of battery buyers.

Not getting the information I wanted, I did a bit of searching and eventually found an email address. So I wrote to it.

So... umm... how _does_ this compare to regular Energizer batteries? Which _should_ I buy?

Your answer is really just sales waffle and doesn't answer either question. The last sentence even raises another question - HOW do they meet the different wants and needs of battery buyers? (Incidently, I think this is known as begging the question.)

Also, I'd like to know how they compare to lithium batteries.

Thanks very much.

To her credit, the lady has always been very prompt in replying, as she was this first time.

Dear Ian,

Thank you for visiting Energizer's Web site and also for your inquiry.

Because this is not an issue that can be easily addressed via e-mail, we would recommend that you call 1-800-383-7323 and speak directly to one of our representatives.

Once again, thank you for contacting Energizer.

[Name removed.]
Energizer Consumer Relations

This, obviously, didn't satisfy my thirst for knowledge at all. I wrote back. (Isn't email wonderful?)

If this is not an issue easily addressed via email, or, it would seem, by your web site, I fail to see how a telephone call would actually help very much. Also, you may have noticed that I live in New Zealand, from where 1-800 numbers are not particularly easy to call. If it helps I can give you my mailing address. Do you actually have information comparing battery types?

A discussion with a friend at this stage confirmed my thoughts that the answer given in the FAQ may well be enough to satisfy most people who don't think very much about what they actually need, but doesn't really say anything useful. The conclusion of our just slightly cynical discussion was that her wanting to get me to talk to a representative is probably because the rep will give me a sales spiel repeating the non-information on the web site, and thereby convince me of the need for me to buy these more expensive batteries.

Anyway, my email got the following prompt reply.

Dear Ian,

Thank you for contacting us once again.

To assist you, I have provided you with the information that you will need in order to contact our affiliate office in New Zealand. Please contact:

Eveready New Zealand, Ltd.
8 Gabador Place, Mt. Wellington
Auckland, New Zealand

Telephone: 64-9-5731830
Facsimile: 64-9-5731840

Once again, thank you for contacting Energizer.

[Name removed.]
Energizer Consumer Relations

How nice. What's wrong with email anyway?

Thank you for the information, but it still does not answer my question. How do your standard alkaline batteries compare to your alkaline batteries with "titanium technology" for power output, and how do both of those compare to lithium batteries?

Nominal figures in units of milliampere hours at various current draws for the three types of batteries will do nicely.

Thank you again.

There. Nice and clearly I set out exactly the information I would like. So what does the dear lady do?

Dear Ian,

Thank you for contacting us once again.

To obtain assistance, please contact our affiliate office in New Zealand.

Once again, thank you for contacting Energizer.

[Name removed.]
Energizer Consumer Relations

Since this is now getting so ridiculous I've posted this in my humour section and I'm heading off to the competitor's web site.


Straight away (one click), here's more info than anywhere on the other guys' site or written in all those emails from them:

Which DURACELL® battery is best for your device?

My own separate research has indicated that in low/lowish drain devices (smoke detectors, handheld computer games, cellphones on standby) alkaline batteries are great, while for high drain devices (shavers, cellphones in use) you might like to consider lithium batteries - or, it would seem, Duracell Ultra. This is because normal alkaline batteries just can't provide the same number of ampere-hours when used hard as they do when used gently due to increasing internal resistance of the battery. Update: I now have a much more in-depth article about battery types online.

So I emailed them...

This website is absolutely brilliant compared to Energizer's. In just one click here I was able to get basic information on which battery is best for which device, and one more click got me to more technical info in the FAQ about what you've done to improve performance in the Ultra. Just the sort of thing I would expect, rather than the useless sales waffle in the Energizer FAQ.

In several emails to Energizer I was unable to get any more information out of them, other than "phone the help line." But you guys have the basic info I want right on your web site.

Well done. Even your feedback page was easy to find.

FWIW, the emails can be read at [the page you are reading]. Enjoy.

Ian.
8 )

... and sent a copy to the lady at Energizer. I finished with:

Thank you for your time. I will be buying Duracell batteries from now on.

She must be working late. Or perhaps it's just an auto-answer computer, which would explain why she doesn't have any info and is always so quick in replying.

Dear Ian,

Thank you for contacting us once again.

A copy of your message has been forwarded to the appropriate department. In the meantime, if you need information that is not made available on our site, please contact our affiliate office in New Zealand.

Once again, thank you for contacting Energizer.

[Name removed.]
Energizer Consumer Relations

Update: Duracell has since added a 212kB Flash presentation to the home page of their web site that they seem to think people want to download before progressing to their web site. NO, Duracell, NO! Duracell's web site can now be accessed through www.duracell.com/landing.asp.



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