In addition to being a technology writer, I sometimes consult with clients on marketing and communications. Today I had an experience that I sincerely hope no other firm ever emulates because it would mean that my input is no longer needed. To be truthful, I wish that every company I’ve ever dealt with as a consumer or an adviser would take this approach.
Here’s the back story: Several months ago, I bought a coffee grinder that I use at the office. This morning I decided to clean it but when I took it apart I discovered that one of the parts had broken. The manual that came with the grinder provided an e-mail address for support.
Time: About 6:10 am. I wrote:
I purchased one of your Maestro grinders about 6 or 8 months ago. When it was empty today, I decided to disassemble it and clean it. The plastic piece that encircles the ring burr is cracked into two pieces and, from the looks of the surfaces of the breaks, it appears to have been broken for a long time. What do I need to do to obtain a replacement part?
The company (baratza.com) is in Bellevue, Washington. At 12:15 my time (or 9:15 in Washington), Pierce Jens replied:
What is a good mailing address? Your grinder is young enough, I would like to send you the part for free.
3923 120th Ave SE
Bellevue, WA 98006
I replied with my mailing address and 6 minutes later (SIX MINUTES LATER!), I received a reply:
En route today. Let me know if you have any further questions or issues.
3923 120th Ave SE
Bellevue, WA 98006
The coffee grinder isn’t a high-priced unit. As I recall, I paid about $100 for it. It would have been more cost effective (or apparently so) to just ignore my request or to tell me that a replacement part would cost $25 plus a $15 shipping fee. But the company clearly stands by its products and is sending the replacement part I need without request for proof of purchase (which I could easily have provided).
It’s a mystery to me why more companies don’t operate this way and the only conclusion I have been able to reach is that most companies are run by short-sighted fools. Fortunately, Baratza’s owners have empowered its employees to do the right thing.
What a novel concept!
Over 6 months ago, I had a Vario with a defective motor and Baratza sent me a new motor (to Quebec, Canada) free of charge even though my grinder was out of warranty.
During this down time I realized how important having a good grinder really is, and just how good the Vario is, cause my department store brand grinder that I took out of retirement during that time was an unacceptable compromise. I’m writing to you now because I finally put my appreciation of the Baratza experience into action, and to avoid ever being without a good grinder by buying a new Vario-W. Some might say having 2 Vario grinders in the same house overkill, but you started this first!!!
You really lived up to your reputation in customer service. What’s ironic is that I never felt like a customer, but more like a member of an elite club cause I was not forced to send it in for repair, you allowed me to fix it myself. Thanks again
I had a piece of wood in my beans and stripped the gear in my Virtuoso grinder on Thanksgiving morning ( Bummer had to find a backup blade grinder to make do for the Holidays !).
Your website gave me the correct information about the problem, helped me order the correct part (which was reasonably priced), and got it shipped to me in 2 business days. The instructions on your website were outstanding, and allowed me to repair my grinder in a very short time. I had a few questions but every one of them was answered by the instructions laid out in your support page.
This was the best customer service experience I have had in a long time. Thanks for the excellent support ! I will be heavily inclined to purchase your products in the future and will recommend them to my friends !
I would like to commend Pierce Jens for his wonderful customer service. I don’t expect perfection from the products I purchase, but I do hope that the company will back up what it sells, and Baratza obviously has a commitment to doing so as demonstrated by the exchanges I have had with Pierce. He has been both gracious and helpful (and very non-judgmental considering at least some of the problems I experienced were due to my own clumsiness). He responds promptly to my questions and concerns and provides the appropriate information. It has been a pleasure to deal with him and is a wonderful reflection on your company.
Wow. I have to say that you’ve all impressed me with the customer service. I can understand a malfunctioning product, it’s what a company does when it happens that counts and you’ve exceeded my wildest expectations.
I’m super happy with the Vario. It seriously is like a revelation. I see why it’s such an impressive home espresso grinder — I’ve had some amazing shots from it just in the first day, and the timer has allowed me to grind to within 0.1 grams every time.
I just installed the new gear and ground an ounce of beans. The replacement process went exactly as described in your support document, and the grinder is working again.I want to thank you for your prompt service and great support. I’m very impressed and I’ll be happy to buy another of your products when it’s time to upgrade.
I felt it was important to respond to you on my coffee grinder repair. I called on Monday to ask for info. I got a real person and not a computer-Surprising! When I talked to you, you understood the problem and the fix-Amazing! You sent instructions on the repair immediately and parts were shipped within two hours(free!!)-Unbelievable!!!
I got the parts in two days and have repaired the grinder. I just wanted you to know that I truly appreciate your help. It is so unusual these days to deal with a company that provides the response you did.
I recently had a problem with my Maestro Plus coffee grinder. Youresponded to my email amazingly quickly and were tremendously helpful. I am very impressed with the level of customer service you provide. Quality and customer service are the two most important factors in any purchase I make–much more important than cost. No question that my next grinder will be from Baratza.
Thanks for all your wonderful help.
Thank you for your pleasant, prompt and informative help on the phone earlier this morning. My Maestro is now cleaned, back together and working as well as it always has. I can be a hard person to please (expecting at least ‘reasonable’ support) – your support line provided a ‘far exceeds’ performance this morning in helping me with my problem. I continue to be a very pleased customer who will provide strong encouragement to anyone I know to purchase Baratza products when in the market for a coffee grinder.
Thanks again for starting my new year out on a positive note… hope your new year will be a great one also.