The Extra Fiber In Quaker Natural Granola: Chunks Of Wood

James’ seven-year-old daughter was happily noshing on her Quaker Natural Granola when she came across this chunk of wood. Quaker was quick to send James a coupon so he could buy more woody granola from Costco, but then offered a refund when reminded that the bulk warehouse doesn’t accept manufacturer’s coupons.

James sent us his correspondence with Quaker.

He first wrote:

My 7 year old pulled a 2 inch sliver of WOOD out of her bowl yesterday morning, which I am very glad did not end up in her mouth. This would be the very first time we have tried this product, from this months Costco coupon, and now I have 4 pounds of Granola that no one wants to go near. How can I get a replacement or a refund? How would have this gotten in to the bag? Are there wood mixing paddles in the process anywhere? This is all too bad because they really liked the taste until she found the wood.


James:

We’re very sorry about the experience your daughter had with our Natural Granola Oats, Honey & Raisins cereal and understand your concern. Your family’s well-being is very important to us and we’re relieved to learn that your daughter wasn’t injured by the object she found in her bowl.

To begin, we’re sending full value coupons to replace your purchase; they should arrive in about a week. Also, we’re sharing your report with our quality assurance team. However, we need to request additional information from the package; please e-mail the additional code information following the Best Before Date found on the bottom of bag (in fold).

Next, be assured that many safeguards are in place in our plants to prevent foreign materials from coming into contact with the product. Screening equipment and inspection procedures should prevent an occurrence such as you reported.

Finally, James, we hope you’ll accept our apologies, again—as well as our thanks for the chance to respond to the situation. Hopefully we’ve done so in a way that satisfies your concerns and questions, and allows us to keep you as a valued consumer. We know you have a choice of brands and always appreciate your choosing ours.

Geri
Quaker Consumer Relations

He responded:

Hello-

The (see attached) Best before date:
Aug 30 09 A(or R)B BB

I don’t think Costco accepts coupons so I am not sure what good that would do me there.

Thanks-James

James:

Thank you for contacting us. We are sorry to hear that you were not satisfied with the response to your previous contact regarding Quaker Natural Granola Oats, Honey & Raisins.

We always try to understand each consumer’s concern, and then provide high quality service. It appears that in your case, your concerns and expectations were not completely understood. We appreciate that you let us know, so that we can further improve our service in the future.

An adjustment for any product that does not meet our high standards of quality is usually made in the form of a coupon of equivalent or greater value for another product. Thus, coupon value to replace the product was previously included with additional value to compensate for your inconvenience. Since this form of compensation was not to your satisfaction, we are enclosing a refund for your purchase in the interest of good consumer relations. Additionally, we are sending a special gift for your 7 year old.

Mr. _____, we hope you’ll accept our apologies, again—as well as our thanks for the chance to respond to the situation. Hopefully we’ve done so in a way that satisfies your concerns, and allows us to keep you as a valued consumer. We know you have a choice of brands and always appreciate your choosing ours.

Peggy
Supervisor
Quaker Consumer Relations

Comments

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  1. Steeldrumhero says:

    What’s the gift?

  2. nagumi says:

    Well, it sounds like Quaker did right by the customer. Sounds like good customer relations. Mistakes inevitably happen – what differentiates companies is how they respond to their own mistakes.

    Also, what was the special gift for the 7 year old???

  3. Liv Hood says:

    Sounds like pretty good customer relations to me.

    I have nine horses who constantly are trying to steal any kind of granola from me. I propose they send the little girl a pony, he would probably like the stuff more than she does.

  4. Slottsherre says:

    I hope James keep in contact with The Consumerist to tell what the special gift for his daughter was. I hope it’s something good, and not some crappy sticker or anything.

  5. Judge_Smails says:

    The gift?

    I think it was a chainsaw. Or a Bag O’ Glass…

  6. paulrules says:

    Watch the gift be a wooden plank with a piece cut out.

  7. veg-o-matic says:

    This is great, but that second letter is a little weird, no?

    “Peggy, Supervisor” doesn’t actually acknowledge that, in fact, a coupon does him no good at Costco, just that their first offer was not “to his satisfaction.” The letter just makes him sound extra picky about his compensation.

    Oh well, it’s all taken care of.. and free pony!

    .. right?!?!

    • RandomHookup says:

      @veg-o-matic: At first, I was going to complain that he could simply take the coupon to another store. But, since he got the 4 pounder at Costco, there aren’t any other places to get that much with one coupon.

    • mythago says:

      @veg-o-matic: It’s probably a form response. They did the right thing so it hardly matters.

    • TheObserver says:

      @veg-o-matic: Hey at least it’s not like they’re going to sue Quaker for a gazillion dollars as per usual in these cases….right?

  8. chgoeditor says:

    Costco will accept returns on almost anything without question. (There are a few limits for computers and other electronics.) James should take the granola back for a full refund at Costco, then buy a replacement box from Costco. (Maybe he should check the manufacturing codes before he buys a box to ensure that it comes from a different run.) He’ll still have a coupon, which he can use at a regular grocery store for an additional (yet smaller) box of granola. It seems like a pretty easy problem to solve.

    • kmw2 says:

      @chgoeditor: That all assumes that he wants more granola though. I’m not sure I would.

      • chgoeditor says:

        @kmw2: I disagree. So he returns the 4-pound box to Costco and gets a refund. Who’s forcing him to buy a replacement box? No one. He’s out nothing and his daughter wasn’t hurt. So, yeah, he has a coupon for a free box. He can pick it up at his local grocery store and donate it to a food bank if he really doesn’t want to eat it.

        I hate this “they owe me” mentality. They’ve apologized and given him a coupon for a free box. What more do they really owe him?

  9. Ihaveasmartpuppy says:

    Years ago I bit into a stick in a Snickers bar. It hurt. Maybe they share a manufacturing facility with Quaker granola?

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      @Ihaveasmartpuppy:

      When I was in high school, we found glass in the ketchup bottle a couple of times. I don’t know what happened there; perhaps a bottle broke on the line and it fell in and they didn’t get it all. Lucky it was in chunks and couldn’t fall out into our food and get eaten.

      My mom took the ketchups back and the store gave her a refund.

  10. Wombatish says:

    While I realize he was taken care of, and that these things do happen, it still makes me look at my food funny for the next few days.

    And I still haven’t been back to TGIF.

    • Wombatish says:

      @Wombatish: And it would have been nice had they taken the “sending this to our quality control guys” thing a little more seriously.

      Like maybe called him. Or sent him an envelope for the stick bit.

      At least they asked for the codes off the bag. A lot of times they don’t even bother with that.

      ’cause I mean, yeah, this time it’s sticks.. but next time?

  11. albokay says:

    That happened with me when I ate one of their breakfast squares. I dont think they sell them anymore but I asked them if the wood was part of the fiber.

    They sent me a coupon for another box. I used it and ate it. No wood in that one.

  12. veg-o-matic says:

    @mythago: No, I definitely agree, it’s not a big deal. It’s just something that stood out to me, that’s all.

    Carry on.

  13. morganlh85 says:

    Just take it back to Costco. All those warehouse clubs have excellent return policies (in my experience) and will give you a refund.

  14. bohemian says:

    This kind of thing is why I don’t trust manufactured food products. BTW, Alton Brown has a really good granola recipe.

  15. razremytuxbuddy says:

    I eat oatmeal almost every day (the house brand, not Quaker. An extra hull or stick in the cereal box is just NBD. This stick happened to be way larger than most, but so what? Welcome to the real world of cereal grains and where they come from. Most foods from the grocery store are so processed you might never know there was a piece of lumber in it. If the wood went through processing with the rest of the grain, it should be clean, and obviously, if it made it into my mouth I would have spit it out. Then I would have finished eating my cereal.

    I’m not usually one who thinks the consumer overreacted, but in this case I do. I don’t know what he was looking for from Quaker, but the apology, gift, and a full refund (which he apparently can get from Costco) should certainly take care of him.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      @razremytuxbuddy:

      I think that repayment was all they wanted – perhaps even just an apology. I believe the “your coupon isn’t useful at Costco” comment wasn’t *necessarily* a “send me money* statement (“WTF good is this going to do me?!”), just a statement of fact (“FYI, Costco doesn’t accept coupons”).

      Well-behaved consumer, good response from company. This is how things should work. They answered the concern (though perhaps not as effectively as one might *wish*), repaid the customer and, when informed that the form of repayment wasn’t redeemable, sent a form which was.

      I’m a bit of the opposite opinion: I think the the majority of these stories involve an overblown reaction from the consumer and/or a terrible response from the company, but this isn’t one of them.

  16. WorldHarmony says:

    Good customer service from Quaker.

  17. edwardso says:

    It looks like it could be a piece of wood splintered off from a pallet, maybe it came from the box and fell in the bowl when he was pouring it. Regardless of how it got there it seems like quaker did a good job handling the situation

  18. crutnacker says:

    Was this a high fiber granola?

  19. crutnacker says:

    Isn’t the real criminal here James, for making his kid eat raisins? Nature’s candy? More like nature’s fruity dehydrated turd.

  20. H3ion says:

    That’s why we stopped buying our granola at Home Depot.

  21. wardawg says:

    I’ve found apple stems in my Quaker oatmeal before, I didn’t find it “too” out of place as it was the Apples & Cinnamon oatmeal, but it threw me off my game for a minute.

  22. glater says:

    What tweaks me out is that they said “in the interest of good consumer relations”, and not “because you found a dirty stick in our crap and that’s screwed up, sorry”.

    In other words, “if we thought we could get away with it we’d just start selling bags of dirty sticks labelled ‘organic granola’, but since you spoke up, here’s your money, i guess”.

  23. fatcop says:

    Well wood *IS* natural…..

  24. Anonymous says:

    I once complained to Earthbound Farms about the quality (or rather, lack thereof) the baby spinach I bought at Costco. I filled out a form on their website, giving them all the information about the purchase. In the mail I received from them a Costo Cashcard worth $10 (the spinach was less than $4) plus good coupons for Earthbound products I could use at the grocery store, and a guide to which produce it’s really important to buy organic (as they absorb anything used on them and it can’t be washed off.) There was a simple note of apology and the standard line about quality and customer satisfaction being very important to them.
    I think that was a better response than James got from Quaker. Overcompensate with what can be used at the place of purchase, plus encourage further patronage of their products in that and other stores

  25. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    I don’t understand the complaint. You wanted all-natural high-fiber food and you got it. Consider the wood a bonus!

    Now everyone will want a piece of wood in their granola too.

    /snark

  26. turkeyspam says:

    Wood…the ultimate roughage.

  27. Smorgasbord says:

    We are eating more wood than we realize. I am a retired truck driver. I picked up flour at one customer in Hurricane WV several times. One time the manager or owner was talking to me as I was looking at the bills. I mentioned it said wood pulp. He very strongly said it was cellulose.

    We walked into a building and they were grinding WOOD into flour. When you see the word CELLULOSE listed in the ingredients, you are eating ground up wood.