Thursday, January 19, 2012


There are few things that Minnesota companies get right. Yes, there are a few exceptions, like The Worst Company Ever: Federated Insurance company (but I'll digress...) But for the most part, me likey companies that at least start in Minnesota. I think it's the return policies. Target, for instance, has greatest return policy on the planet. And probably on other planets. I don't know, I've never been to Saturn. I assume it's tops there too, though.

Anyway, a close second - when it comes to returns, anyway - is Caribou Coffee. (Sure, it's not technically a Minnesota company anymore, but the first location opened in my hometown, so it has always been home to me.)

Why does a COFFEE SHOP need a good return policy, you ask? Because they SUCK at labeling their products. Allow me to elaborate.

Last night, I was cranky and cold and just wanted coffee. I was out of K Cups and my veins were itchin' for a fix. So, I braved the snow and drove the 8 blocks to the Caribou for my K Cups. Quick as a cat, I located my chosen flavor and felt better already. I breezed home and ripped open the box to prepare for the morning. What the...?


Gross! When someone NEEDS coffee, there is no worse substitute than DECAF coffee. It's like trying to get a buzz on non-alcoholic beer. Gross.

I was irate at my stupidity. But I took a second look at the box. It was, like alllllll their other K Cups, a simple brown with some general coffee bean info that's the same on pretty much every box. But then I looked at the label a little closer. Here's what the REGULAR coffee looks like:

Here is what the DECAF label looks like:

Are you KIDDING me, Caribou?! Am I supposed to play Photo Hunt with these labels to find the hidden differences?! No person, who is in desperate need for coffee, will see that super tiny line that says "This is not the coffee you want". And people either REALLY NEED REGULAR COFFEE, or DEFINITELY DON'T WANT REGULAR COFFEE. There is no in-between. The decaf label should say DECAF in giant letters that are on fire or something.

So, I dramatically put the opened box in one of those fancy grocery store bags (I don't want them to think I'm a freeloader!) and headed back out to the 'Bou. Here's the conversation at the counter:

ME: Hi. I'm sorry, I'm an idiot and was in here last night for K Cups. I opened the box and discovered I got decaf. Mama don't do decaf...
GUY: Oh God, I'm sorry. That tiny line is so useless! Go grab the right one and we'll just switcheroo.
ME: Are you sure? I opened the box.
GUY: You're certainly not the first person to do, I'm assuming you didn't drink any of them. Because, you know, it's DECAF.
ME: Yay! Let's get married!

Anyway, so the guy let me make the switch. No muss, no fuss. It was all I could do to not open the K Cups and eat the coffee raw on my way home.

So that's that. A very long, drawn-out story about how Caribou ruined one day and redeemed themselves the next. So, thanks for the great Customer Service, Caribou, but seriously. RE. THINK. YOUR. LABELING.

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