We're Too Cheap To Let You Grab Your Own Toilet Paper

from the this-was-inevitable dept

You knew it was coming: the infrared automatic toilet paper dispenser (via Boing Boing). Given the proliferation of similar devices for paper towels in restrooms, this isn't particularly surprising. What's slightly more amusing here, though, is that the company making the device, TP giant Kimberley-Clark, isn't even trying to pitch the device on environmental or other grounds: no, it just wants to save companies money by dispensing less toilet paper, since a company exec says "People generally in life will take what you give them." Apparently the company's research has shown that the optimal amount of toilet paper -- presumably from a financial aspect, and not a user-experience one -- is 20 inches' worth, or 5 standard-length sheets, so it's preset the device to dispense that amount. For generous bathroom providers, the device can be set to dispense 24 inches; cheapskates can set it to only deliver 16. Of course, they seem to be ignoring the fact that users could simply just wait for the device's timer to reset and get another 20 inches of paper, either because they need it, or just out of spite. Every industry feels the need for innovation to grow sales; whether it's actually needed or not is a wholly different matter.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    BadMan, Jul 11th, 2007 @ 9:29pm

    My solution

    Just piss on the roll and ruin it for everyone...

     

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  2.  
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    Coward Anonymous, Jul 11th, 2007 @ 10:16pm

    Nice to see....

    That the money they saved by outsourcing their IT department has been put to such novel uses.

     

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  3.  
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    stghm, Jul 11th, 2007 @ 10:28pm

    Obviously they wouldn't use environmental reasons seeing as how they clear cut ancient forests to make their stuff in the first place.

    In public places however, many places buy recycled tp.

     

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  4.  
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    gregory, Jul 11th, 2007 @ 10:40pm

    Cynicism on top of the usual cynicism?

    Awww, cmon now. This is taking the (welcomed, and insightful) usual cynicism of Techdirt, and taking it to a level of sillyness.

    I think it has been well established by Mike that profit drives organisation activity. As such, getting an organisation to purchase this premium product is going to require you explain an economic reason for that much higher financial outlay. To pretend otherwise is absurd.

    What a lot of economically minded people that fail to appreciate the value of sustainable living dont see that that it provides a new business pressure to optimise your energy usage and reduce waste; which opens up a plethora of new business models and activities that otherwise may not have occured - such as this very idea.

     

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  5.  
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    balebond, Jul 11th, 2007 @ 10:50pm

    brilliant...

    Any cheapskate company that buys into this to save on "tp" overhead is going to lose WAY more in lost productivity by employees because I'm not bringing my own stash and I ain't getting off the can until the job is completely finished. :P I have a feeling that I wouldn't be the only one.

     

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  6.  
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    Slartibartfast, Jul 11th, 2007 @ 10:51pm

    "Of course, they seem to be ignoring the fact that users could simply just wait for the device's timer to reset and get another 20 inches of paper....."

    Or simply take a small pry bar in there and "adjust" the device and take as much as you want!

     

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  7.  
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    GoblinJuice, Jul 11th, 2007 @ 11:07pm

    Re:

    Ancient forests? I'll assume that was a lame joke. (Maybe it was funny? I've got a toothache and I'm tired.)

    As for "recycled toilet paper", I think you mean toilet paper made from post consumer materials. Best example is Seventh Generation.

    I've tried using 7G's toilet paper - it's simply unacceptable. I'd rather not get into the icky, sicky details... but, yeah, they need to improve their product.

    As for the, er, device mentioned in the summary.... If you ever see or hear of a company using it, stay the fuck away from them. They obviously have problems.... Deep, deep problems.

    Let your employees shit and piss in peace. =)

     

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  8.  
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    Dave, Jul 11th, 2007 @ 11:18pm

    Re: Nice to see....

    Did they patent it yet! ;)

    BTW was waiting to see you give this too an outsourcing twist!

     

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  9.  
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    yossi, Jul 11th, 2007 @ 11:37pm

    Re:

    umm, they use trees that are grown for the sole purpose of turning into paper. just like the bread you eat is made of wheat planted for that purpose, not wheat that was just growing there.

    ever buy a christmas tree? those are specially grown on tree farms and cut when they are 3-4 years old. paper producers simply plant trees and grow them for a longer time.

    the chemicals used to 'clean' (bleach) recycled paper, are whats bad for the environment, not the use of purpose grown trees.

     

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  10.  
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    suv4x4, Jul 11th, 2007 @ 11:43pm

    Best they could do

    They wouldn't sell one single unit if they pitched it for "environmental" reasons. They're trying to hit their prospects where it hurts: expenses.

    Whether toilet paper is such an expense is another question, and whether this device works yet another, but they just went for the BETTER way to pitch their toilet paper device.

    If it still seems a poor pitch, it's because it's a poor device (I bet the cost of those is more than what you'd save in paper).

     

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  11.  
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    The Swiss Cheese Monster, Jul 11th, 2007 @ 11:51pm

    Damnit!

    Can't they let me decide how much TP it takes to clean my ass? Micromanages are ruining the world.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 1:35am

    The potential savings are probably offset by the batteries used in these devices.

    For those who are too lazy to RTFA, here's the summary...

    "The machine isn't completely automated. Each also comes with a suite of "security" features in case the machine malfunctions.

    There's an emergency feed button, and a manual feed roller lets the users pull the roll around if the motor breaks down or the four D-size batteries run out. There's also an option for a "rescue roll" on one side of the machine just in case the old-fashioned way is preferred.

    The devices cost about $30 apiece for the plastic variety, and $55 if cased in stainless steel."

     

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  13.  
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    jackie113, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 2:20am

    60606

    If you don’t have a PS3 compatible-video file, you could download the PS3 Video Converter or DVD to PS3 Converter from www.mp4-converter.net and convert your un-compatible video files to PS3 MP4 video

    www.mp4-converter.net/ps3-converter/

     

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  14.  
    icon
    Peet McKimmie (profile), Jul 12th, 2007 @ 2:58am

    Re: Recycled tp

    Try ShitBegone for all your recycled tp needs...

     

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  15.  
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    inc, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 4:08am

    Re:

    I agree, save a few pennies on some TP then lose a ton of money on broken dispensers from pissed people with dirty asses. Oh ya... then lose those pennies you might have saved.

     

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  16.  
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    TPman, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 5:11am

    Bad for business

    Lets not forget that selling MORE TP is how they make their money, why on earth would you make a device that makes people use less TP? Now you have to go and find more customers to replace the rolls that people are going to save.

     

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  17.  
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    Pixel Rider, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 5:29am

    Could be worse

    They could have just opted for a coin operated machine that only dispenses one sheet at a time.

     

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  18.  
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    Mark, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 5:40am

    Amazing

    Save the environment from a few million pounds of biodegradable paper, and replace it with tens of thousands of Batteries.

    Terrible. F.

     

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  19.  
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    The CMAN, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 5:41am

    Crapology

    I never understood the electronic plethora of bathroom appliances. Are people to lazy to pull out a paper towel or turn on a faucet? Now I do not have to even pull down the TP? No wonder the US public is obese!

     

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  20.  
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    wnyght, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 6:21am

    Re: Crapology

    "Are people to lazy to pull out a paper towel or turn on a faucet?"

    not that i don't agree with you on the over use of electronic devises in bathrooms, but it's not about lazyness, it's about sanitary reasons, not having to touch something that other people touched.

     

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  21.  
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    ReallyEvilCanine, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 6:30am

    Have none of you worked in a restaurant?

    The cost savings intended by this isn't the $0.40 or so that the extra paper usage costs, it's the $50-300/week costs of additional maintenance required due to damage caused by vandals (and by certain women like my ex- who truly believe they need to bunch up half a roll to pat a single drop of urine). It thwarts a number of behaviours that, unfortunately, too many people exhibit when using public toilets.

    The default length sounds fairly generous, actually. With about a five-second delay between dispensing, paper is available quickly enough for those who need it yet slowly enough to put off most attempts at vandalism. I expect it's also a sealed unit to prevent anyone pissing on the entire roll.

    CMAN: It's all about perceived hygiene and costs. If you don't have to touch it, there's no chance of getting someone else's germs. The water faucets and IR-activated flushes cut watesr usage in half. I can't wait to get one of these installed.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 6:33am

    I'm sure this will be popular among those companies that currently restrict things like pens and paperclips to save money and then turn around to fly the entire executive staff to some popular location for a "meeting" to congratulate themselves for saving money.

     

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  23.  
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    Overcast, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 6:33am

    I'm sure soon enough it will be part of the environmental cause and 'mandatory' for all of us plebs.. errr, citizens.

     

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  24.  
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    cdwatters, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 6:49am

    Re: Crapology

    The problem is perceived risk. People have germs on their hands. People touch the controls for the toilet, faucet and paper towel dispenser. Thus the risk of transference, which is blown out of proportion by sensationalist media.

    So we have sensor driven faucets, toilets, soap dispensers, and paper towel dispensers. Where I work (a Medical Center) this is actually a good thing, since *our* customer base is typically people with things you really don't want tranference on.

    You also have a problem (in the US) with people like #1, who mentions intentionally contaminating the TP - or putting a whole roll in the toilet because they don't have to clean up the resulting mess. Or breaking off the handles on the faucets because they can. Vandalism is a problem in public facilities.

     

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  25.  
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    The spuzz, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 7:35am

    What will they think of next???

    Bad enough you go into a stall now and its out of paper...or even worse you realize just a little too late that the roll at hand will not suffice.
    Now they are going to trust this job to a digital device.
    What happens if the darn thing malfunctions?
    I can see all the shit stains on it now from people trying to access its contents in a panic.
    Pardon the pun, but what a shitty idea.

     

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  26.  
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    Bob, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 7:45am

    What they should have been inventing is a TV that installs in the stall door so you can watch TV while you do your business

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Urza, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 7:57am

    Re: Re:

    Some companies grow their own trees. Some cut down the hundreds of acres around my house instead. Bastards.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Urza, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 7:57am

    Re: Re:

    Some companies grow their own trees. Some cut down the thousands of acres around my house instead. Bastards.

     

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  29.  
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    Lucky, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 8:08am

    WTG Kimberly Clark

    Talk about creating a product to fix a problem that doesn't even exist!

     

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  30.  
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    Ajax 4Hire, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 8:20am

    Re: TP made from Pine trees

    the weed of the tree group.
    Not Clear Cut Ancient Forest.

    Wood from clear cut Ancient Forest is reserved for pallets sent to Europe (cannot use Pine Wood for shipment to Europe). Apparently Europeans are afraid of pine.

     

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  31.  
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    DOO DOO, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 9:53am

    Re: many places buy recycled tp

    stghm wrote In public places however, many places buy recycled tp.

    One should think before one types...ewwww, recycled TP? Now that's probably NOT what you meant but the very thought is, well....ewwwww.

     

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  32.  
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    Dookie Howitzer, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 9:57am

    Shake only the right hand

    Like most technological advances this will at some point lock up or break and leave you there using your hand. You'll just have to hope that there is paper at the sink and not one of those push butt and rub hands under arm machines...

     

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  33.  
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    Shalkar, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 10:37am

    Since the previous user(s) of the toilet touch only what they are taking of the tp, how are they contaminating the remaining roll? Wait---Maybe I really don't want to know.

     

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  34.  
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    Jamfish, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 12:52pm

    What? No Cheryl Crow setting? (1 square per 'sitting')

     

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  35.  
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    slartibartfast, Jul 12th, 2007 @ 3:55pm

    I can remember being in Europe somwhere, can't recall where it was, and when you went into the crapper there was a woman sitting there and you paid her 50,000,000 of the local currency, (which = about $0.25), and you got 4, yep, count 'em, 4 sheets of shiny paper. (This stuff seemed to be designed to smear rather than wipe but that's another story). On the positive side if you bribed her a little, maybe 250,000,000 you could have a few more sheets to enable a more comprehensive smearing.

    A much better system IMHO. Not only was the amount of TP controlled but it produced extra employment for the locals.

     

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  36.  
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    jumpie, Jul 13th, 2007 @ 11:03am

    What a bunch of shit!




    / :)
    // thank you, I'm here all week
    /// try the roast beef

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    bob, Jul 14th, 2007 @ 10:41am

    toilet paper

    hey, go to Russia, visit Catherine's Palace or the Mermitage in St Petersburg.....But you better bring you own toilet paper !!!! There ain't non in the toilets!!

     

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  38.  
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    Gareth, Jan 6th, 2013 @ 4:14am

    Toilet paper

    well its been a long time since the last time this post was visited and it appears the rise of the infrared toilet paper dispenser hasnt come about within the last 5 years!!
    checking around on many sites like this one here and i havent seen a single one, but if you want infrared paper towel dispensers there are hundreds!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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