So obviously, I was still fuming about my T-zone-vanquishing cream being tampered with to the point of uselessness by those meddling morons at MAC (click here if you have no idea about my beef with MAC. Click here if you have no idea what a T-zone is – fellas, I’m looking at you).
My precious Prep + Prime Face Protect had been destroyed by a pesky ‘upgrade’ that defeated the sole purpose of me using it. Which was not for the sun-blocking capabilities (SPF 50), but for the oil-blocking capabilities (it was so good they could have added ‘OPF 50’ to the label. Except now they can’t. Because the new formulation offers about as much shine control as a can of Pledge).
As you can imagine, I wasn’t very happy. My handbag was a sea of tissues and blotting papers and powders and puffs, and my face was shining like the top of the Chrysler building. I was mad. It was time for vengeance.
First up came a snotty product review that was so expressive the original version was banned from the website (I mean come on – I added all the asterisks!!!). Which led me to take a few deep breaths and type up a new, PG-rated account of the entire catastrophe:
This appeased me for a little while, but then I realised it wasn’t enough. Heads hadn’t rolled. Nothing had changed and I was still wandering around looking like an oceanic oil spill. Does the company even bother reading these things? They needed to know my displeasure and they needed to know first-hand! So I gave them a call.
Firstly, it turns out that MAC is actually owned by Estee Lauder. And secondly, it turns out these people take customer complaints very seriously indeed.
I described the whole emotional rollercoaster to the nice lady on the phone – my joy at finding a product that actually worked and my feelings of betrayal and despair upon discovering they’d knackered it by boosting the sunblock and moisturisation properties at the expense of the mattifier. I explained that there was no sign on the packaging to indicate the formula had been changed, and that I hadn’t been informed by the assistant who fetched it for me, either. I pointed out that I could not get a refund from the retailer because I’d already opened and used the product. I inquired what steps could be taken to get the original formulation reinstated. And I asked if she was aware of any London stores that still had some bottles of the original version left.
Well, the nice lady apologised profusely for the upset caused by MAC’s interference and gave me a full refund on the spot. Just like that. She said that unfortunately, when the company rolls out a new formula, it does a product recall across all outlets – meaning the only version available in-store is the new crappy one. She said that as consumers, all we can do is complain and complain as much as possible as the company does take note of feedback, and that hopefully, if we make enough noise, they might reconsider.
And then she said: “I’m going to put you through to Michelle in our Gone But Not Forgotten department. Trust me – if there are any original versions of this primer left in the UK, she will find them for you.”
I stood there blinking while I was put on hold, assuming that I must have misheard or misunderstood. But sure enough, the voicemail message said: “Hello – you are through to Michelle at the Gone But Not Forgotten programme. I’m unable to take your call at the moment, but if you leave your name, number, the product you are looking for and the quantity you’d like to purchase, I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.” So I left a message. And two days later, to my surprise, someone called me back.
It transpires that this Narnia-like department is actually a thing, and they can have a go at finding any product under the Estee Lauder umbrella (which includes Clinique, Origins and Bobbi Brown among others, BTW) that’s been discontinued within the past two years. That amazing eyeshadow you had? That perfect lip colour that simply vanished from the shelves? You could totally get them back. I did – the nice lady took my card details and shipped my precious cargo of miracle mattifier the very same day. Now that’s customer service.
Ps – The number of the Gone But Not Forgotten department is 0370 034 2709. I know because I have it on speed dial. You’re welcome. : )