Ill-Advised Exports of the Month

Finger-hungry bean grinders and face-plant prone bikes.

By Karen Quinn July 15, 2009 Published in the August 2009 issue of Seattle Met

SEATTLE KEEPS THE planet rolling in coffee (Starbucks) and outdoor gear (REI), but when you’re dishing out a galactic supply of those goods, eventually something’s likely to come back and bite you—or one of your customers.

In the case of ’Bucks, that problem came courtesy of the Barista Blade Grinder, which threatened to divide users from their fingers. In June, the caffeine purveyor recalled 530,000 grinders, because, according to a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission report, the apparatus switches on and off of its own accord, and, in three cases, still-sleepy consumers lacerated their hands while trying to clean the machine. A few of the 176 customer complaints even cited machines that gave off sparks.

The brass at REI, meanwhile, shuddered through descriptions of the carnage reaped by Novara Trionfo bicycles: fractured clavicles, broken teeth, facial damage, and head injuries caused when the bikes’ forks gave way and sent riders tumbling.

The reaction from the companies was swift—REI offered replacement parts and free repairs on 260 defective models—and snarky. The woman who answered the Barista Blade Grinder Hotline told us with a chuckle, “You would think everybody would unplug it before cleaning it, right?”

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