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So much for Starbucks

August 7, 2005

Well, I managed to break my Starbucks’ Barista Aroma.

The “pour” button on the thermal carafe (which never went down terribly far anyway, making pouring a relatively slow experience) gave up the ghost; the top of the carafe lid came away from the bottom, and as a result, the button lost all of the spring tension.

Since this also causes the “carafe is in place” button to not stick up properly, the whole thing announced itself early this morning by the coffee maker determining that the carafe was not in place, filling the grounds basket with hot water, and then proceeding to flood the kitchen counter with hot water and coffee grounds…

Grrrr…

Oh well, s*it happens.

When I purchased the coffee maker (along with its two year warranty) last April, the Starbucks employee who sold it to me included in the pitch that I could always bring it back to the store if I had trouble, and they’d get me taken care of ASAP. This was somewhat in response to my concerns about the reliability of their Barista Burr Grinder, which I bought at the same time, but she specifically mentioned it about the coffee maker also, as I had some concerns about brewing temperature.

At the time, it struck me as unusual that they’d handle warranty complaints there, but I figured maybe it was a policy meant to help sell their (somewhat expensive) equipment line.

So, I wander into the store this afternoon like a schmuck, with my broken carafe in hand. I didn’t want to hold up anybody in the drink line, so I stood down at the bean counter, while the employees would keep glancing at me and the carafe like I was slowly growing a second head, one which probably didn’t drink coffee.

Finally the manager came over, and after about ten seconds of hearing my story she informed me that they could do absolutely nothing for me at the store, I had to call or write their warranty department. I asked if this was a new policy (nope), and if it applied to the burr grinder also (yep), and left.

Okay, so I have to call corporate (which was open on Sundays, but closed by the time I got home.)

Not a big deal, except as regards setting expectations.

There was no reason for the person who sold me the stuff to tell me I could bring it back there — to put it bluntly, she obviously lied to me in order to get the sale. I’d have probably bought the stuff anyway, but even if it was a deal breaker there was no excuse for lying to me.

I have no idea whether the employee made a commission or got a perk for selling extra equipment, but the fact is that Starbucks made money from me that day, at the expense of never selling me another piece of equipment again.

I spend money on coffee stuff. I do it fairly regularly, and one of the few things I can say nice about Starbucks is that I like their coffee makers. But hell will now freeze over before I buy another one — just because I don’t like to be lied to.

Follow-up

The support rep. on Starbucks’ warranty line couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful; I wasn’t on the line with him for two minutes before he told me he had a new carafe lid on its way to me, and that it should be here by the middle or end of the week (at no charge). When I asked him a follow-up question about settings on the burr grinder, we were accidentally disconnected, and he called me back (at the number he’d taken when getting the address to send the carafe lid) to finish answering my question.

It still doesn’t make me happier about being lied to at the store of course, but it was a nice experience for a customer service call.

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