I recently discovered that a Starbucks grinder was the subject of a recall. Actually, I stumbled across the recall notice when scrounging for repair information. I googled. Health Canada had a recall notice. Strange, I thought. I read the information at Health Canada. Then I sent an email to the public relations address at Starbucks asking where to send or drop off my grinder for a new one. I explained about my malfunctioning grinder, Health Canada’s website, and that I live near Montreal. Then I asked:

grinder recall information from the Health Canada website
grinder recall information from the Health Canada website

Please let me know where and how I can return my grinder for a replacement.

Back-tracking, I finally found the recall information at the Starbucks website. The information mirrored that at Health Canada. There was the same 1-866 phone number, but also seemed to suggest that if I had questions feel free to call or email Customer Relations.

I have a pre-paid cell phone. No land line. It costs me a lot to make calls especially when calling some of these 1-8xx numbers. It’s can be really expensive if trapped in voice mail hell. I once spent $25 trying to reach my own cell phone provider (Virgin) on a recall of my cell phone.

The point of my emailed question was to get the Customer Relations person at Starbucks to email back an postal address and any requirements to meet any conditions for the recall. I did not want to waste air time on my cell phone. This is what I got back:

Thank you for contacting Starbucks Coffee Company.

Starbucks is conducting a voluntary product recall of the Starbucks Barista® Blade Grinder that was sold in eight colors in our company-operated and licensed store locations throughout the United States, Canada and many international markets from March 2002 through March 2009. We are conducting this voluntary product recall in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Please discontinue use of the grinder immediately. The button which starts the grinder may become stuck in the on position, causing the blades to spin.

The grinders included in this recall were produced in a variety of colors including: stainless steel, green, pink, orange, teal, cranberry, olive and black.

If you own, or think you may own, one of the Starbucks Barista® Blade Grinders, please call (866) 276-2950 for return and exchange instructions. The grinder must be returned in order to obtain an exchange for a new, black Blade Grinder.  If you have purchased one of these grinders in the last 60 days, you may return it, with a receipt, to a company operated Starbucks store.

If you have any further questions or concerns that I was unable to address, please feel free to let us know.

Thanks again,

Not a single bit of information that I hadn’t already read at the Health Canada or Starbucks websites.  Nor did the reply answer my question. So I expanded my question back to Starbucks Customer Relations thus:

I knew about the recall, as my previous email noted. That’s why I sent it.

I stopped using my grinder after I experienced trouble with it. Which is why I began to search for product information, and stumbled upon the recall information at a Canadian government website, also noted in my previous email.

I saw the toll-free phone number (again, and below in your reply) but decided to ask for return instructions by email, so I would have the address and instructions in text.

So your reply gives me no more information than I had before, and fails to answer the question I asked:

What do I need to do to return my grinder?

Please include a Canadian address, as I live in Canada.

Thanks in advance,

This is what I got back within an hour:

In regards to the Starbucks Barista® Blade Grinder Recall, please call (866) 276-2950 for return and exchange instructions, including address. This recall is being handled solely by this hotline and Customer Relations is not processing any returns related to this recall. As you have indicated that you would like the instructions emailed to you, I suggest that you make that request when you call the recall hotline.

My first instinct was to reply with a great big F*ck YOU! Instead, I chose these words:

Just exactly the opposite of helpful.

Tally: one lost customer.

Have a nice day.

No wonder the company is in trouble. It actually believes that people like being treated like crap. Now I can say it:

F**K you, Starbucks.