14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 28 January 2023 — No customer dared to pay this weekend the more than three MLC (freely convertible currency) that a bottle of Suchel cologne costs at the La Filosofía store in Centro Habana. “They got out of hand with the alcohol,” warned one of the sales clerks as she discouraged shoppers from taking a “fragrance-free” product.
“You have to take care of your customers’ pockets,” she explained, in a display of good faith, but later, with less honesty, she qualified: “I have to avoid the paperwork for the return.” According to the worker, the Suchel company had sent the entire batch damaged. “Most likely, the same thing is happening in other stores,” she assumed.
The employee invited customers to check the problem themselves. She would offer them the bottle, she would uncover it and then, satisfied, she would ask: “Tell me if they are not just alcohol?” A girl raised the vial to her nose and nodded.
“Whoever wants to take them is at their own risk,” insisted the worker. “I am alerting you now. Later I am not going to return the money to anyone.” Nor does Suchel, she clarifies, accept the return of the product. “They will stay there forever,” she said, with the recommendation to ask, in other establishments, if the colognes had been affected by the same situation.
“I don’t like to sell things that don’t work,” she said, but she is aware that other stores do not have the same sales “policy” and do not want a discussion with Suchel representatives. According to the clerk, the company always wants everything to be sold, even if the product is deficient.
The company, associated with the Dutch giant Unilever, has had a long-standing reputation for failing to meet quality standards. Adulteration, theft, corruption, delays and substitution of compounds are some of the factors that characterize its operation.
It is not strange to find in the informal market, or in advertisements of online sales sites, the same essences that La Filosofía lacks. The same thing happens with the components of the detergent manufactured by the company, the shavings with which the soap is made and flavorings in which the fragrances taken from the Suchel warehouses are dissolved.
Given the mistrust generated by these products, Cubans usually look for imported perfumes, shampoos, hygiene products and cosmetics. Even if they are of the worst quality or from a brand they do not know, the purchase will not have the same risk as trusting Suchel.
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