One Christmas morning I looked at the gift I was handed and turned over the gift tag.
With all my love
I love you from here to….
I carefully removed the gift wrap and discovered the missing word:
It was exactly what I wanted. A Bottle of Eternity Perfume, my favourite.
Only that morning I had squeezed the last dregs from the old bottle. With excited hands I opened the box to have another extravagant spray. Well, it was Christmas day after all! I sprayed and it might as well have been tap water! Plenty of liquid but no perfume! I was so disappointed. I ran and got the empty bottle I had discarded earlier and the scent from it was still so strong after months of use, yet the new one had none.
I asked Jack where he had purchased it. Boots, Donegal Place,” he said (that’s in Belfast).
My next question was “Do you have the receipt?” Alas, Jack was not good at keeping that kind of receipt. “No” he said “But I do have the cheque book stub!”
For several months that year in the run up to Christmas, it was not possible to listen to the Radio or watch TV without hearing warnings about purchasing Perfumes from reputable Dealers. ‘Perfume Shops’ were springing up all over the place and stories bandied about of counterfeit goods being traded. Jack had gone to a reputable dealer and paid full price for the goods. There was no way I would be fobbed off.
Early on the morning of 27th December armed with the perfume, cheque book and an Elly who was tightly holding Book Tokens for a promised visit to Crane’s Bookshop the Grannymar Clan set off for Belfast to do battle with the Big Boys. The Sales started that day so the streets were thronged with bargain hunters. We made our way to Boots and the Perfumery Dept was almost empty. Now we all know that most Cosmetics manufacturers depend on the three weeks before Christmas to provide them with their profits for the year. Once Christmas is passed the sales slump until Mother’s day in March. The empty Cosmetic shelves in front of us that day were more than proof. Eventually a young lady stopped chatting to come and see to us.
Firstly I asked if she had a sampler bottle of Eternity for me to try. She had, and I did. I was satisfied that it smelt as it should. I then produced my problem bottle and said how disappointed I was and indeed my husband was that the gift he bought for me was not up to the usual standard. I apologised that we did not have the receipt but was able to tell her exactly the day it was bought and showed the check stub. I asked her to try the offending bottle to see if she could smell the difference. The main problem that day was that this sales lady was a temporary employee and the usual Calvin Kline representative was away until after 2nd January.
I said that with all the publicity that year about counterfeit goods, we had listened and purchased from a reputable supplier. I queried if the goods ordered and paid for by Boots were not the goods supplied. I requested that ‘my’ bottle of perfume be sent back to the manufacturers for testing. I said “I know accidents can happen on conveyor belts” and that I wanted an explanation for the lack of scent in the bottle my husband purchased. I told the young lady that I knew that in no way was she responsible for the problem. My gripe was with her employers or Calvin Kline.
She did take the bottle, my details and phone number. Elly was becoming restless so we headed for Cranes and the wonderland of books. An hour at the book shelves and a refreshing cup of coffee later we were ready for home. We needed to be home at lunchtime as Elly was bound for a party in the afternoon.
During the afternoon I realised I had a dilemma! In my haste to have the Eternity problem sorted I had handed over my evidence and my details but had not received a receipt for it. I located the phone number for the Boots branch that we visited and asked to speak to the Manager. I was told he was on holiday. Worried that my ‘bottle’ might find its way to the garbage bin and my evidence with it, I then phoned the Head Office in Bangor, Co Down. Once again I asked to speak to the Manager but only got as far as his PA. She listened to my tale in full and assured me that she would pass on the information before the close of business that day. Again she took my phone number and said they would call me back.
At 5p.m. that day I had a call from Boots in Bangor. They had checked with the Belfast Store and had requested that the perfume I left would be forwarded to them. I received an apology for my disappointment and for the fact they did not have a replacement for me that day. New stock was not due until after the 6th January. I was promised a call as soon as it was back in stock. I assured them that my gripe was not with Boots but with Calvin Kline.
2nd January dawned and my phone began to ring. It was a call from Calvin Kline in London. They wanted to check the details provided to them by Boots. Once again I told my story. By this time I knew it by rote. Never once in all these conversations did I raise my voice. The apologies came my way once more and I kept stressing that I was not on the make but wanted the product sold tested!
On 6th January I had a call from Boots in Bangor to say the perfume order had arrived and a bottle was set aside with my name on it, in the Belfast branch. The manager in Belfast phoned later in the day to say the same thing and I arranged a suitable time to collect my perfume.
Two weeks later a parcel arrived in the post from Calvin Kline in London with a complimentary replacement bottle of Eternity. Later still near the end of the month when I had forgotten about the episode a third bottle arrived from Calvin Kline USA with their compliments. I never did discover what exactly was wrong with the first bottle, but the three replacements were all as they should be.
I still like Eternity and use it at every opportunity.