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.

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Companies: kimberley-clark

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Comments on “We're Too Cheap To Let You Grab Your Own Toilet Paper”

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38 Comments
GoblinJuice says:

Re: 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. =)

yossi says:

Re: 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.

gregory says:

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.

suv4x4 says:

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).

Anonymous Coward says:

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.”

cdwatters says:

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.

ReallyEvilCanine (profile) says:

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.

The spuzz says:

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.

slartibartfast says:

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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