On the way to work the other day, I needed a sugar fix. I was coming up on a supermarket, so I pulled over, went in, picked up a bag of M&M’s, and walked to a cashier. He scanned the bag, and told me it cost fifty-two cents. I handed him a dollar bill. He put the M&M’s in a plastic bag, counted out my change, then handed both of them to me along with the receipt.

Now, I know that’s how a supermarket cashier is supposed to handle every transaction, but let’s break this one down.

First of all, when I’m buying M&M’s, you don’t need to put them in a bag. They’re already in a bag.

Second, I don’t need the receipt. There is exactly zero chance that I’m going to come back to the supermarket to lodge a complaint about candy and demand my money back. Even if it’s stale and tasteless, I’m going to write off the fifty two cents and go on with my day.

Have I ever returned something to a supermarket? Yes, when my wife told me I bought the wrong brand of cheddar cheese or detergent or whatever — but not because it was faulty, and not if it cost under a buck.

While I’m off on this returning-items tangent, I’ve often thought about taking cantaloupe or watermelon back once I got them home, opened them up, and found them not nearly ripe enough for consumption. But if I started doing that, I’d be at the customer service counter every day, because the produce department of supermarkets no longer sells ready-to-eat melons. They’ve all been picked-and-shipped prematurely, several days away from being close to ripe. Same thing with their bananas, which are consistently green with nary a yellow one in the bunch, as if no one could possibly want a banana now. If they sold bread the same way, you’d end up with unbaked dough every time.

Back to the M&M’s. After they fulfilled my need for a sugar buzz, I noticed two things on the package I’d never seen before. One was the apostrophe in the trademarked name — they are M&M’s, not M&Ms. Since there’s nothing possessive about the candy, and its name is not a contraction, that seems wrong.

The other thing that caught my eye, right next to the mandatory nutrition information rectangle that seems moot on a bag of candy, was the box that read:

This product should reach you in excellent condition. Satisfaction guaranteed or we will replace it.

Then it gave a phone number to call with questions or comments. What must it be like to answer the M&M’s customer service line and hear complaints like these?

  • There was only one blue M&M in the bag! You ripped me off! 
  • I found a half of an M&M in the bag along with the whole ones. Do I get a refund?
  • I put a handful of M&M’s in my mouth and almost choked to death! Where do I send the lawsuit?
  • I’m trying to limit my dextrin intake. Exactly how much is in a single M&M?
  • What’s the record for longest toss of an M&M across the room into a stoned guy’s mouth?
Again, we return to the idea of returning candy. Let’s say you were in my situation — you wanted a snack, chose M&M’s, then were dissatisfied with them for some reason. If you call to complain, you’re not going to get anything to satisfy your craving at that moment. It’s going to take a few days for them to mail you a coupon for a new bag. Meanwhile, you’re going to go somewhere else to purchase some other sugary thing to stick in your mouth, right? 
Is it worth the time? And what are the chances you still have the receipt?