Consumerist reader C. had a problem of a well, rather delicate nature. She writes that after receiving a SodaStream for Christmas, she was beyond excited to try it out, using a few of the company’s flavored syrups to make her own carbonated beverages at home. That excitement waned when she started experiencing an — how shall we say it? — ill health effect that sent her running for the bathroom every time she drank the stuff.
After trying various non-diet syrups (she adds she never drinks diet soda because she doesn’t like the taste of artificial sweeteners) and waiting a week or so in between trials to make sure it was the SodaStream syrups causing the bathroom trips, she decided to write to the company and see if others were having a similar problem.
She says hesitated to reveal the nature of her problem, but figured if the syrups were contaminated with bacteria or something else, the company should know.
Using the customer service email from on SodaStream’s site, C. wrote the following description and sent it in:
“Hi there. I was given a Sodastream for Christmas, and boy was I excited. However, every time I have used it, and drank my soda — I have the worst diarrhea I have ever had in my life. Almost instantaneously. Have you had others with this issue?? Is it the carbonation, the citric acid?? What do you suggest?”
Why beat around the bush, right? And while she realizes it might be a humorous situation for someone not in extreme pain and confined to her apartment in the throes of abdominal cramping, she was shocked to receive a forwarded reply, apparently mistakenly sent to her when a customer service rep sent her ticket elsewhere within the customer service machine.
At the top of the email was a standard reply, asking C. to contact the customer support line and advising her to use a certain ticket number. But below that was a string of messages from within the company.
The first, likely a rep passing her email on from the pool of submitted forms, noting: “Maybe an allergy to splenda. She should refer to her physician.” This, despite the fact that she did not believe she had consumed a syrup with Splenda.* (see note at bottom)
And then as it was passed on once again, a CSR or someone else within the company wrote: “Well, she’s not shy, is she?!”
Why, those soda jerks! Why should she be shy when asking about something that was affecting her health? C. adds that she’s worked in customer service for her entire career and thus, was duly shocked.
She sent the following reply in response to what she calls a “giant customer service faux pas.”
1) I was not drinking the diet mixes. I tried the Natural Ginger Ale, the regular lemon-lime, and the regular root beer.
2) I hesitated contacting SodaStream on this, because, frankly, it is pretty embarrassing. So no, I am not shy about it and so sorry if it offended someone in the email chain’s sensibilities. Really?? You might want to scroll down before forwarding things.
3) I have contacted my physician, who said to stop using the machine and suggested I contact you to find out if others had reported this issue.
4) Please use the wonder of email to contact me, now that I have been made to feel sufficiently uncomfortable about asking this question.
In lieu of any kind of apology for CSRs poking fun at her situation, C. replied the below response:
We have not had this issue. We can inform you that we use Splenda in our Sodamixes. Our SodaStream diet flavors are sweetened with a blend of acesulfame K and sucralose, also known as Splenda®. SodaStream flavors contain no aspartame. SodaStream regular sodamix flavors contain sugar (sucrose), not high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). The exception to this is Energy Drink, which indeed does contain fructose and dextrose, in addition to sucrose. In addition to sugar (sucrose), regular sodamix flavors contain sucralose (Splenda® brand) and some also contain acesulfame potassium. Sparkling Natural flavors are sweetened exclusively with cane sugar. If you have dietary concerns, please read the label of every SodaStream product before purchasing, available by clicking the sodamix images on the Flavors page of this website. When in doubt, consult with your physician. If you have any questions please contact our customer support line at 1-800.763.2258, representatives are available to assist you 24/7.
Now that she’s well-versed on SodaStream’s syrup ingredients, C. is fed up with the treatment she received.
“So, if a Sodastream product makes you really sick — too bad for you, but at least it will provide some good email chuckles for the folks in their ‘customer service’ department… and if they get busted at it —forget an apology or concern of any kind, or even recognition that they f****d up.”
She adds, ” I have since purchased syrups from alternate sources. Sodastream will never get another dime from me!”
We reached out to SodaStream area regarding C’s unfortunate customer service experience and have yet to hear back.
NOTE: The original post missed the portion of the e-mail in which the SodaStream rep explains that Splenda is indeed present in both diet and non-diet formulations of their syrup. We apologize for any confusion this has caused. The point of the post is that the SodaStream rep should not only have refrained from mocking the customer in an e-mail chain, but the other CSR should have been more careful about what she forwarded to the customer.