Monday, 08 March 2010 19:16

A Snus Horror Story

Written by Mick Hellwig
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Mick Hellwig of SnusCENTRAL.orgBeing a fan of Phantom Blue portions and loose, I had for some unexplainable reason avoided Phantom Blue White portions. I finally threw 3 cans of White in my latest SnusCentral.com order. I then promptly avoided using them for 3 more weeks.  Turns out I may be psychic.

I was not expecting what I found when I opened them. After a day of loudly complaining to my family about the lack of quality control at V2, my adoring wife suggested I do something more than gripe. I then did something I rarely do. I took her advice.

I sent an email to Patrick Vogel of V2.  Marc Vogel answered and it led to a flurry of e-mails over the space of 2 days. Patrick is primarily responsible for the business and marketing side of V2.  His partner and brother Marc is primarily responsible for the actual making of the snus.

Mick takes on V2 Tobacco:  Quality Control of their Snus

The following are the pertinent excerpts from the e-mail exchange with Marc Vogel of V2 tobacco. The only changes were correcting Marc’s grammar or spelling, English not being his native language a few mistakes are The Phantom Snus Horror Storyunderstandable.

Dear Marc,

Until my last order I had not tried the White portion version of Blue. I bought 3 cans. I am officially an unhappy customer. On opening the first can I noticed the portions seemed light and very inconsistent. Tonight I opened the other two cans a weighed each portion out on my electronic gunpowder scale. The portions weighed between .34 and .83 grams. Most were in the .5-.6 range. This was in all three cans.

Out of the 68 portions 2 were .75 or above, 11 were between .34 and .45. To me this is unacceptable. If these were mini portions I'd expect .5 grams of tobacco. The "best by" date was 9/7/10.

I had noticed slight inconsistency in recent Thunder cans, and I have avoided regular portion Oden's since I experienced several open portions in the 4 cans I bought. BUT, in almost 2 years of using Phantom I have never had these types of issues. I even liked the old portion material.

I'm writing mainly to let you know of the issues, and secondly to ask if you have or are resolving them. This is not the level of quality I have come to expect from V2, nor I suspect, the level you strive for.

What portions I have tried were great. A full portion of this may be in the running for my #1 portion snus. It would be knocking off Blue regular portions, so not much of a change for me.

Sincerely,

Mick Hellwig

Yes, I realize this might have come off a little strong, but his first reply almost pushed me over the edge:

Hi,

We have done some improvement with the Blue white if you give us your address we could send you some from the last batch. The weight per portion should be 0,8 g.

Our statistics say that there is some sort of production error on every 1 out of a 1000 cans. We are off cause sorry for that and we doing what we can to improve this.

Med venlig hilsen / Regards

V2 Tobacco A/S
Marc Vogel


I replied as nicely as I could....

Marc,

You say the statistic is 1 out of 1,000 cans. I received 3 cans in the same order that were all wrong. Hopefully that translates into 2,997 cans which were right.

Actually I was hoping for a better answer. I have read several people that have had similar issues with V2 products and was willing to come to your defense in an article in my column at SnusCENTRAL.org and put your words out for customers to see.

Most customers will not contact you about problems and just won’t buy your products any more. I really want to see V2 succeed, simply because life without Phantom Blue would not be the same.

Sincerely,

Mick Hellwig
SnusCENTRAL.org


This elicited a much better and clearer response.

I was not 100% clear. The White line of product was new to us 7 month ago and producing the Blue version gave us some challenges. The Blue flavor acted very different than the rest of Phantom flavors’. This gave us some problems with filling the portions.

We have found a solution to the problem and the Blue White will be much more consistent filled. We are in the middle of changing to a new and better packing technology in terms of making better quality. The latest Thunder is produced with this technology.

This said, I have no idea how many cans made with “old” technology is still in the pipe line but it can be many.  We have supplied buysnus, Northerner, getsnus and SnusCentral with new technology cans.

Finally when a problem happens on our production line it is likely that 2-5 cans in a row will have a quality issue until the problem is detected. Even with manual inspection it’s not always possible to detect a problem.

Our business has grown a lot the 3 years we have been in the business and we have got a lot of new people working for us and we must say that it takes time to educate them. This is not an excuse but maybe an explanation to what we are facing. Our quality gets better every day and it has our biggest attention.


My response;

Thank you for the clarification. Do you mind if I share your words with everyone through an article? I really do think people would like to see what you have to say about this.

Back to Marc;

Thanks for asking. If it's ok with you I would like to add something to the whole story. This should be the story of going from 40,000 cans a year to 4 million a year in 3 years time. This has been a dramatic process in terms of quality and finance. I have a very detailed story about this, which I could have ready by tomorrow. If you could wait for the complete story I would be happy!

Marc wrote to me the next day letting me know there were some issues with getting his story finished. I understand he has a business to run and that has a higher priority. I’m Ok with that.

First because I would be dangerously upset if the supply of Phantom Blue was interrupted, second because this column is already long enough and I probably lost readers a few paragraphs back. So what I will do is devote “part 2” of this article to Marc’s side of the story, as soon as I get it.

I have to say Phantom Blue White portion has the great flavor of Phantom Blue loose, and if the production problems are well and truly fixed it will be another wonderful product in the V2 stable. Phantom Classic Blue Loose
Furthermore I am satisfied with the level of customer service and response to my concerns shown by Marc. His first response was simply “We messed up; I’ll send you replacement cans.” Did this have anything to do with my pseudo celebrity status as a contributor at SnusCENTRAL.org?

I doubt it. V2 has always demonstrated excellent customer service and I've read comments from several other V2 snus users that received the same treatment.  I'm betting Marc had never heard of me until the first e-mail as he didn't answer my questions immediately.  He finally made clear that this was a much bigger issue than a customer receiving 3 sub-standard cans of Phantom Blue White snus.  It was a serious manufacturing and quality control issue which has hopefully been corrected.  

All manufacturers have problems and growing pains now and then. Owning up to their mistakes and taking care of the customer is what sets the great companies apart from the ones that will be consigned to the “dust bin of snus history”.

Until next time,government free tobacco disclousure

MICK HELLWIG

WHAT I THINK at SnusCENTRAL.org


Read 2983 times Last modified on Saturday, 09 November 2013 03:08

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