Sunday, February 18, 2007

A Rueful Vent:

Today I'm going to make a classical use of my blog: I'm going to vent about an unsatisfactory experience with a vendor. But my goal is not to get you to complain with me, or to shop elsewhere. I'll probably buy again from this place myself, and I've plugged them before. I'm a victim of circumstances, and I wish they'd treated me a little more kindly.

Every few months I order from Terroir Coffee. They make coffee that's expensive and exceedingly delicious. At the beginning of February, they announced something special, “Special Reserve El Injerto, from Huehuetenango, Guatema. I looked at their web page for this item. Eventually it will disappear but here it is (this is the version Google has CACHED). The fellows at Terroir think I'm a clueless newbie for believing I could buy this coffee for only $11.90, but if you look carefully at the link, you'll see that there's no price for the El Injerto. Nor does the page say “call for price.” Three coffees are offered on this page, and “11.90” appears just above and below the text for El Injerto. I've looked at a lot of coffee websites, and in my limited experience there's always a price. So I foolishly connected that $11.90 with the wrong coffee.

In any case, I had to call Terroir to reserve this coffee because (when I called) the item was not quite yet on sale. The guy I talked to is sure he told me the price, and I'm sure he didn't, because if he had, my jaw would have dropped so far open that I would have had difficulty closing it. A few days my order the arrived, and I was astounded to see that I had bought 12 ounces of coffee for $49 (plus shipping). Wow!

I knew at once that I could not return the coffee to them unopened. That would be unethical on my part, because I know Terroir sells fresh-roasted coffee, and by the time they got it back from me, they would not allow themselves to ship it to another customer. So I ground some of the beans and made myself a cup. It was delicious. In my own exprience, I can only compare Jamaican Blue, or Kona from the same coffeemeister (George Howell) in the past, to El Injerto, for sheer drinking pleasure.

After enjoying my cup, I called to complain. I talked to a fellow who was sure he had taken my order, and equally sure he had told me the price. I explained to him that their web page about El Injerto is misleading, and ought to say something about price or the lack of it. (Almost two weeks later, I believe there has been no such change.) I asked him to think about whether there was anything Terroir could do to make me feel better about this situation. I did not ask him for a snap decision, but rather made sure he had my email address, and he agreed to write to me. And I waited.

I'm still waiting. I haven't even gotten an “I'm terribly sorry, there's nothing we can do” email. Gee I wonder if his response got lost on the way. Email's not perfect...

UPDATE: I received a very kind apology from Terroir, and at this point it looks like they've done more than enough to keep me a happy customer. I believe they are also going to change their website to make clear when a price is not posted. Right now I probably feel even better than I would have, if I'd never vented!

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