Sunday, May 28, 2023

It Was Not Amazing

["Let Inga Tell You," La Jolla Light, published May 29, 2023] ©2023

 When you think of all the amazing gains in technology, one can only wonder why one of them isn't inventing stickers that are easy to remove from glassware. I mean, we've put a vehicle on Mars.  So you wouldn't think the sticker situation would be that big a problem. 

Believe me, it is.  I'm talking about a company I'll call Glassware Guys. 

Don't get me wrong. Probably 90% of the glassware and acrylicware in my home comes from them.  Great selection. Good prices. Attractive. Durable. 

Frankly, I haven't bought much in the way of beverage ware all that recently since we're in the downsizing rather than accumulating mode of our lives.  But the acrylic glasses are perfect for taking an adult beverage down to watch the sunset in glass-prohibited areas.  Which is pretty much everywhere along the coast, even on cliffs.  Our acrylicware was suffering from Chardonnay fatigue.

Fortunately, the type we like was still in stock.  But my happiness was short lived when both the sides and bottoms had stickers on them that appeared to have been baked into the plastic itself. 

Now, I’m no virgin where it comes to sticker removal.  Over the years, I’ve used hair dryers, nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol, Goo-Be-Gone, pre-wash spray, 409, baby oil, peanut butter, corn meal, talcum powder, and plain old hot water.

But these suckers, er, stickers, especially the ones on the bottoms, weren’t budging. Especially the sticky residue underneath. 

One has to ask oneself: is there a reason they need to use industrial-strength super glue on glass or plastic ware to attach a sticker that has a 100% probability of needing to be removed?  It’s not like these stickers need to be able to stay stuck into the next millennium for purposes of post-apocalyptic identification. 

So, I decided to see what the “Glassware Guys” themselves might recommend.  In fact, I was sure that when I searched “How to remove stickers from glassware” on their site, the link would pop right up.  But it didn’t.  So, I decided to try Chat.

Here’s a partial transcript of this 30+ minute conversation:

Glassware Guys: Tell us in your own words [who else’s words were they thinking of?] how we can best help you.

7:12 p.m. Inga:  I just got my acrylicware and can’t get the stickers off the sides and bottom. Help?

(7:15) Hi, my name is Jeffrey H., thank you for contacting Glassware Guys! I’ll be happy to assist you! 

(7:16) Inga:  I just received my 15-ounce acrylic glassware and love it but am having trouble removing stickers from both sides and bottom of glasses.  Don’t want to scratch it.

(7:20) Jeffrey H: Oh, I’m sorry to hear that you are having trouble with your amazing glassware.


(7:25) Jeffrey H:  Oh, I’m sorry about this situation. 

(7:27) Jeffrey H: Let me check if I can find useful information for your issue.

(7:27) Inga [getting impatient and surly.  Why is each non-helpful reply taking 4-5 minutes?  Is he playing Fortnite between replies?]  I can’t believe you don’t get this question 100 times per day! 

(7:28) Jeffrey H: Just to confirm, is for the amazing Acrylic Drinkware, correct? 

(7:28) Inga: YES!!!

(7:34) Jeffrey H: I just sent you an email with all the details we have for this amazing item 

(7:34) [Email has full description of the acrylicware, including its construction and dimensions. But nothing about stickers.]

(7:38) Inga:  Just got your email with absolutely no information about how to remove stickers.  Officially giving up.

(7:39) Jeffrey H:  I’m truly and genuine [sic] sorry for this situation. 

(7:40) Jeffrey H: If you want to know how to get sticker residue off plastic, wood, or glass, rubbing alcohol is an effective solvent that’s safe for most surfaces.

(7:40) Inga: That’s what I was asking a half hour ago!  And yes, I’ve tried that!  

(7:41) Jeffrey H: Thanks for chatting, Inga! If you have more questions, please chat again to pick up where we left off.  

(7:45) Inga: Why on God's green earth would I do that?????  Goodnight! Gaaaaahhhhh! 

It was clear to me that “Jeffrey H.” was a bot whose developer had failed AI 101.  So, imagine my surprise to get an email shortly thereafter from Glassware Guys with a smiling photo of Jeffrey H. and his dog.  “Jeffrey is proud to be a part of the Glassware Guys family.  His goal is to always provide a seamless and excellent experience. How satisfied are you with the service you received from Jeffrey H. today?”

Um, needs a new occupation?

Honestly, if I were Glassware Guys, I’d be selling my own brand of sticker removal prominently on the website.  Or I’d be contacting 3M whose amazing but now-deceased chemist Spencer Silver created Post-it Notes (my column June 2, 2021).  These folks know glue. Because no one should have to work that hard to remove stickers from glassware or anything else.

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