If you’ve been tempted by Facebook ads promising cheap “introductory” offers from Seattle Coffee Direct or World Bean Cafe, located in the world coffee capital of Evanston, Illinois, readers Adam and Ivan say, “don’t do it!” The ads promise t-shirts or a free coffee grinder as an incentive to sign up, or tempting introductory offers. But you’re really signing up for a coffee delivery service for close to $80 per month. Or more, as reader Ivan learned. He says that the company accidentally billed him for, and sent, two bags of coffee per day.
A few months ago, Adam was drawn in by a Facebook ad promising five North Face t-shirts for $5.
I signed up for a $5 introductory offer from Seattle Coffee Direct. I thought, “Why not?” Well the coffee arrives and I notice on my bank statement a charge for $28.10, not $5. Then I notice two charges three days apart for $38.95. When I finally call, things really get interesting. When I first get Mike from CS on the line, I don’t even give him my name, acct number or anything, and he’s already saying he can close the account and refund the money, two things I had yet to even ASK for. Obviously, they have to do a lot of this. What I come to find out is that by (stupidly) giving them my information, they had signed me up for twice-weekly coffee shipments, at a cost of $38.95 per week. Unbelievable.
Meanwhile, a few weeks ago, Ivan shared with us his sad story of a World Bean Cafe order turned into an epic saga in search of his refund.
Please warn your readers about this company or companies. It sells coffee beans and I was sucked in via a Facebook ad. Yes, I know, or at least I should have known better. Against my better judgment I went ahead and ordered from them back in May of this year. It has been a nightmare since.
I received my initial shipment. The week following this I received another order of coffee. I thought this was odd so I checked my credit card online system. There were 7 charges from World Bean Café at $38.95 a pop! I called them immediately and they cancelled any further orders. The representative gave me a lame excuse of not specifying a shipment frequency (there was no way to specify a frequency on the order form) and that it defaulted to two bags of coffee ordered every day. Huh?
According to my credit card company all the transactions were manually entered into a POS system so that excuse is pretty iffy. She then said I should send the coffee back and I should get the credit within 60 days. Ugh! That week the orders of coffee started to come in. I refused them. >
I waited for the credits which should have been done in the beginning of August. No credits. I called again and was told it would be at least another 30 days. No credits in the beginning of September. I called on 9/17 and was apologized to and they said it would be 5-7 business days before I received my credit. Now it is October 1 with no credits. I call again and speak to a representative named “Ralph” and he gives me the same 5-7 day spiel. Not happy with the answer, I ask to speak to a manager. I was connected to “Lucy” who says she is going to manually enter the credits into her system and gives me the 5-7 day speech. I wait. October 12 rolls around and still no credits. I checked this morning and no credits have posted to my account. All this time I have been paying interest on these transactions and am fed up. I have started the charge back procedures with my credit card company. Hopefully that will be the end of it.
Lesson learned and all I can say is, “Never Again!”
The coffee subscription scheme has been around for a long time—look at Gevalia—but the Facebook ads seem to be a new phenomenon. Let this serve as a lesson to Adam, Ivan, and all of our readers: always scroll down and make sure to read all of the fine print.
What the company actually promises (or maybe “threatens”) is to ship two bags of coffee to subscribers every two weeks.
Semimonthly Program: Twice a month you will receive a package with 2 bags of coffee and will be billed $12.90 per bag of coffee, plus $6.95 per bag for shipping and handling.
So they’re charging for shipping alone a bit less than you might pay for a pound of mediocre coffee on sale.
Speaking of pounds, though, there is no mention on the site of how big a bag is. Forget the grocery shrink ray that puts 12-ounce bags of coffee on store shelves—the packets pictured on the site look smaller than a pound.
(Photo: Matthew Oliphant)