Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Tale of Three Sippy Cups

Happy St. Patrick's Day! My theme today is cups. Not cups that hold Beer, but cups that hold juice and milk.

A few years ago, I lamented about not being able to buy just the part I want for certain products. Now, I am further lamenting that even when it is possible, buying just the part I want is often difficult and expensive.

My Goal: Revive 3 Sippy/Straw Cups that have had just one part wear out on each of them. I don't want to toss them and get new ones. I just want to replace the broken parts.

The slightly worn Frog Cup
Nuby Flip-It Insulated Cup

My son chewed through the straw on this in a few weeks.  Tracking down this product was actually a bit difficult, as I bought it under the brand 'Cottontails.' But eventually the Internet led me to 'Nuby' and photos proved it was the same cup.

That tip then led me to Nuby's incomprehensible site. I just had no idea at all where to go after reading this wackiness, so I went to Amazon and found the Nuby Replacement Straw Kit for cups. The photo shows 3 lids, but it actually only includes one. The reviews are deservedly scathing: twice the price of a whole new cup just for a replacement straw, plus shipping??? It's one thing to reuse and replace, but it's another to get totally screwed while doing it.  After hunting around on Amazon a little more, I found another replacement straw kit that is a better deal, but still very close to the cost of a whole new cup. I thought about writing Nuby to complain, but the incomprehensible website (see above) had no way to Contact them that I could find. That's a little scary if I had actually had a serious issue with the cup.

The Dino Cup
Playtex Insulated Twist 'n Click Straw Cup 

My darling son chewed through the straw of this one in 2 days. So, I'm barely motivated to get a new one only to see it munched through again. You need to read essays of text to figure out which type of replacement straw you need, but they do have some pretty good photos and lots of big red warnings that warn you of common mistakes.  Same basic pricing issue as the Nuby cup: I can get a 2-pack of new cups for the same cost as 3 replacement straws plus shipping. I'm not sure that is worth it.
Playtex actually had a 'contact us' section on their website, so I wrote them about my frustrations in trying to replace the straw at a reasonable price.
It's frustrating that the straw wears out so quickly on this cup (My son chewed through it after two uses) but it is difficult and expensive to buy replacement parts. (You can buy the new cups in stores, but need to pay shipping for the replacement parts.) Have you considered packaging extra straws in with the cup and charging $1-$2 more? I don't think I'll bother with a new straw, but I am wondering if the cup is recyclable or if I have to trash it. It has no recycling symbol on it, but isn't polypropylene recyclable? 
 They wrote back within 48 hours. 

Thank you for contacting us regarding the Playtex® Insulator® Straw Cups. To answer your question, these cups have a recycle code of 5. Please contact your local recycling facility to verify they recycle this type of plastic. In appreciation for your feedback we are sending you two coupons that we encourage you to use towards any Playtex Infant Feeding products.
Well, maybe I'll try getting those replacement straws, after all! (Then, if he chews through the first in two days. I'll pack up the cup and give it as a gift to someone else.) 

Take & Toss

So Simple. So colorful.
These cups have been our all-around favorite cups, with the sippy cup lids rather than the straw lids. (Note: They are our favorites after you make the holes larger with an ice pick. This is an important detail as so many reviews of these have parents saying "We can't get a drop of liquid out through these lids!")

But our son chomps on these lids, too, and eventually they need to be replaced. The CUPS last forever; all we need are LIDS. But the only place to get lids is online and they cost of the lids is just about the same as the lid + cup, plus I need to pay shipping. Why is it so much more expensive to just get the lids? I pay it as a contribution to the environment (why buy more cups I don't need), but it is frustrating. I wrote to them about this ...

We like your sippy cups very much. For something supposedly designed to be tossed away, they are nearly indestructible. The lids, however, are more destructible. It is great that you sell replacement lids, but you only do it on your main site. Have you ever considered making these replacement parts more widely available? Have you ever considered packaging the cups with an extra lid and then just charging an extra dollar? Either of these would be helpful.

They wrote me back almost immediately, saying that they'd definitely pass along my ideas to their product department. Whether that actually happens or not, it was nice to get a response.

But one thing I'll say about Take & Toss... once the lids wear out you can definitely toss them in the recycling bin. There are just simple plastic, #5 recycling. (At least where we live, we can recycle these). That's nice. The other cups are too complex and I'm not sure they are really recyclable. I just made an order for more lids and more bowls. These things are great.


Are other folks having the same experience? That just one or two parts of these cups wear out and then you're stuck? 


hkj*324 said...

I, too, have the same issues with all infant/toddler cups. These are above ALL my favorites, especiallh with the spout top. Like you, I'm one to write companies to praise OR complain. It has taken the toddlers I watch 3 YEARS to finally bite through the spout, with almost daily use AND I find thwt they really are able to be tossed with liquid in them without a drop leaking out. Many things in life just don't make any sense and having to purchase extra straws or spouts via on-line only is just a given. I hope one day these companies will just finally 'get it' and run a lot or two of tne straws and spouts and package them alone, at any reasonable price. Makes good sense only to use sensible Moms!

hkj*324 said...

It seems to me after 40 years of caring for kids, that unless a company's CEO is a Mom, things that are sensible just make NO sense. I use these Take & Toss cups witn tne spouts excusively! Once you learn how to 'snap' them closed thney just do NOT leak. I've seen tne spout lid last almost 3 years with daily use by a busy toddler, but finding the same replacement lid or the straws, without buy mor cups seems to take an act of Congress. As much as moms & dads slend on such supplies it should just be a given to walk into a big box store and buy the replacement lids/straws and at a reasonable price. All I can figure about the companies that make these parts is that they just are not rujn by women.

EF said...

I found this thread as I was searching for replacement parts for our Nuby straw cups. I'm sure it is more profitable for them to just sell a new cup, but like you, it feels environmentally irresponsible to me to guy another cup when all I need is the straw. It has been enough to get me to switch brands. I recently go the Oxo straw cup and ordered the 3-pack of replacement straws on Amazon. You almost have to factor in the cost & trouble of replacing straws into the original decision of which cup to go with. Oxo thinks of everything.

sheknapps said...

About two weeks ago I tried to contact The First Years about buying 100 lids from them. We use these cups in our church nursery and playgroup. Still no response. I am about to contact them again before I start writing unsavory internet reviews about the company. Being a church and all, they could even donate them for a lovely tax write-off!

On another note, I finally bought Nalgene water bottles with the sippy lid for my kids. They have lasted six years. In fact, my kids are too old to use the cups anymore, but then I went and had another kid who now uses the cup. I don't have a dishwasher so most cups I won't buy because I can't get the nooks and crannies clean enough by hand.

hkj*324 said...

Just a thought, as I have no dishwasher, either. One set of bottle brushes PLUS a capful of bleach to your dish water cleans kidlet cups REALLY clean!