Brewer's Droop #247

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Please Note: You are just about to read some words with no racism, no snide remarks about our glorious leaders, no jokes about Parliament, no moans about the currency and nothing sarcastic about any of our popular national food dishes. There are no swear words and no animals were harmed in the writing of this either.

However, I’m sure that someone, somewhere, will be offended about something.


This is a true story, told to me by a very good friend.

He, like most of us, uses a PO Box number so off he went one day to empty his box.

Funny. The key didn’t seem to work. After several attempts and convincing himself that he hadn’t yet lost all his marbles and was trying the wrong box, he came to the inevitable conclusion that the lock must have been changed.

So he went into the Post Office and stood in a queue (and read “War & Peace” while he waited).

Eventually it was his turn and he told the chap behind the desk what his problem was. He said “hmm” as he tapped on his computer keyboard. After some time he looked up from the computer screen and said “you haven’t renewed your box rental.”

“Well, I didn’t know when it was due” said my friend in his defence.

“Well, the rental hasn’t been paid so we’ve barred entry to the box.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“We did sir. We wrote to you and told you that we were blocking your box.”

My friend isn’t stupid and he quickly concluded what had happened, replying “where did you post the letter?”

“To your box address sir.”


Our taxes go towards funding the Post Office you know – good value isn’t it?


My personal gripe is not with the Post Office but rather with manufacturers who simply change their products without (apparently) any real reason. And then, to add insult to injury, when you complain, the furthest you get is to talk to someone with an IQ lower than their age.

I’ve been drinking diet coke since, well, I can’t honestly remember. Since before my memory began to fade, then.

It was always the sugar-free coca-cola for me (not caffeine-free though otherwise you lose the taste altogether). But then in South Africa, for some inexplicable reason, a product manager decided to change the recipe. The result was horrible.

Curiously, they never changed the taste in America or Britain, so whenever I was on holiday it was like going back to a favourite pair of slippers.

But back in SA I had to find an alternative, and I found one in the Woolworths Diet Cola but it proved to be difficult to get as supplies were unreliable.

Then there was the Pick n Pay Diet Cola, which was great. But it came in big 2 litre bottles and getting rid of the empties became a problem.

Three years ago, I discovered SodaStream and it was even better than the original Diet Coke! Also, no big bottles to lug around and environmentally friendly. And at a much lower cost!

Okay, stocks were a bit erratic, but I used to buy as many of the syrup bottles as I could find (I like having “stocks” of things).

Lately it’s been impossible to find any – until two months ago when they launched their new packaging.

Happily, I mixed up a bottle and savoured the first sip.

Yuk! And I spat it out. It really does taste disgusting (to me at any rate). The new blend also often leaves a scummy residue on the side of the drinking glass (double yuk).

I tried phoning and emailing but no luck. Then I found they had a Facebook page. So I posted a message – to which they replied. These are the messages in the thread…


Why, oh why, did you have to change the recipe for the diet cola syrup? You had the best one of them all – better than Coke, Pepsi or any house brand.

I know this because I’ve tried them all. And I eventually found THE BEST – and that was SodaStream.

Note the word “was” because now you’ve plummeted in the rankings. Your cola is just so ordinary and way, way, too sweet. In fact it’s horrible.

Okay the new packaging is good – but why mess with the product? Why?

When you have the winning formula why change it? Has the Product Manager had a breakdown of some kind?

Anyway, you’ve just lost me as a customer.


Sodastream South Africa Hi Chris. Yes, unfortunately we have changed the ingredients on all the new syrups we make, some of them are much better now. We are sad to hear that the cola is worse.

Perhaps try the Zero Lime / Zero Orange Mango as these are our new favourites.


Cola. I only drink diet cola. That’s what I’m writing about – cola! Is that clear? Why would I want Lime or Mango instead – and how do you know they’re favourites if they’re new??? Don’t treat your customers like morons or lie to them because they’ll desert you – as I have done.

And that was the end of that – and I’m back drinking Pick n Pay diet cola again.

Obviously SodaStream is so successful that it doesn’t need me as a customer.

Shame really. It was a good product.


I just have to share a couple of extracts from a book called “Very British Problems” (by Rob Temple, published by Sphere – and you can follow him on Twitter: @soverybritish).

“Telling someone you’re speaking to them ‘with all due respect’ to indicate you disagree with their point of view entirely.”

“Saying, ‘correct me if I’m wrong’ to indicate that you know you’re right and do not wish to be contradicted.”

I could go on – it’s an hysterical book – correct me if I’m wrong but you’ll love it.


By the way, you should definitely check out To quote my friend and colleague, Chris Moerdyk, “A growing number of chief executives and members of corporate boards in South Africa are becoming alarmed at the amount of money their companies are wasting every year through bad marketing. The average wastage on marketing budgets for corporate South Africa runs at about 25 per cent.

Figures of as much as R50 billion a year have been bandied about over the past few years.“

Take a look. It’s only available to corporate boards, is confidential and free.


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  1. Wow! I feel exactly the same about Soda Stream. They’ve ruined some perfectly good products – and cheated their customers at the same time. Shame on them.

    • I doubt they’ll take much notice Molly but I agree – shame on them.

  2. Well said squire! I was thinking about a Soda Stream but think I’ll try another product instead.

    LOVED the Post Office story!

  3. Hear Hear! Like many other companies do, they’ve reduced the size of product and kept the price the same. Rip Off!!!!!

    I’ve stopped buying their products now since the changed the recipe – just use it to make soda then mix it with Rose’s lime or Campari or just with whiskey.

    • Good idea Ewan!

      I’m going to source some other products that produce carbonated water so when you S.Stream breaks you can replace with that (it’s what I’m going to do).

  4. Chris, I fully endorse your endorsement of Rob Temple’s “Very British Problems” – AWfully funny and typically understated. Totally incomprehensible to Australians and Americans.

  5. I managed to get my postbox renewal notice before they locked me out of the box — which they did anyhow since every time I tried to pay, their systems were down. Eventually I paid online, which didn’t open sesame because no-one notified my post office it was paid. The best was the ‘renewal notice’ though. Hand scribbled on the back of a torn-out used piece of paper. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. I laughed, but it’s not really that funny.

  6. I have had that exact same Post Office story play out – not once, not twice, but 3 years in a row now. I thought the Post Office had gone mad, then I realised I am the fool who still pays for a post box that only gets filled with marketing blurb I didn’t subscribe to, traffic fines I didn’t want and post office stuffed pamphlets and flyers (to help subsidize their dismal revenue).


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