Looking the gift horse straight down the throat

Monday, October 19, 2009

I’ve been lucky enough to be able to win some stuff on twitter lately, and/or to to be able to try some stuff for free through this blog.

Free blog stuff generally has a ‘cost’ – the writing of a review.

On twitter, the receipt of ‘stuff’ normally involves re-tweeting something someone wrote, or sending an email, or following a certain account to be considered an entry in a contest.  So I’ve got tickets, gift cards, CDs, all sorts of fun stuff — much of it I have passed on to other people.

About 10 days ago, I learned of a new corporate twitter account set up for @TassimoCanada, through someone I follow. Or actually several people I follow since everyone was curious how this first person ended up a with a free coffee maker.

The account said to send a direct message (like a twitter email) to be considered for receiving a machine. And that you must have ‘loads of [twitter] followers’.

Next, the account said you had to have more than 500 followers to be considered.

Well, I thought, that’s rather confusing.  The little angel that sits on my shoulder thought that contests should be fair, that rules shouldn’t be made up arbitrarily, PLUS you can only direct message between you and someone who is following you.  Which I pointed out.  And, what’s the catch here?  Am I selling my soul to a coffee machine maker?   Am I going to have to tweet about it all day? Do I even need a coffee machine?  I already have one.

The little devil that sits on my other should was kicking me in the head going DUDE FREE COFFEE MACHINE.  CONTEST FOR CANADIANS, THAT NEVER HAPPENS!  FREE APPLIANCE.  WORTH LOTS OF MONEY.  GET ONE! GET ONE!

I showed interest in receiving a coffee machine.  But, I also read my computer screen with a furrowed brow.  And felt simultaneously disgusted and empathetic at people literally BEGGING for Tassimo machines but not really getting a clear response.

Then someone I follow, who works in PR, wrote a blog post outlining her concerns, which echoed some of my concerns.  I tweeted that I hoped the company read it.

Suddenly I had an email in my inbox offering me a machine.  And an explanation of how the twitter selection process was working.

To quote:

We used a Social Media research tool called Radian6, to identify the top 300 most active Social Media enthusiasts in Canada discussing coffee and relevant social activities.
That was our starting point, and the goal was to give 300 machines for a simple reason, we believe that our “Product is our best Ad”. So we wanted to put in the hands of those people to experience it, and IF they like it, share their experience.

My first thought was (a) so companies are now analyzing twitter for where users are and what they are talking about, not really surprising and (b) what about all the people who still say they are in Tehran?


Back to ME.  I’m feeling weird. I just complained about a contest and now I’m being offered a machine.  But, I did ask for one.  And I’ve got that damn devil literally kicking me in the head saying YOU WANT FREE STUFF, GREEDY PANTS.

So I accept the offer.  And I’m feeling like a cool kid of the internet.  This doesn’t happen often.  I have, like, 10 readers.

While I’m waiting for my machine, people are still begging for them.  BEGGING.  I begin to hate to see the word Tassimo in my twitter stream.  I begin to consider unfollowing people that I normally quite like to follow.

Last week, the machine arrived.  My husband was excited and opened the box before I got home.  He called me to say just how generous the company had been with samples of their coffee T-discs.

I came home from work, and set up the machine.

It’s wondeful how much coffee and tea they sent .  But. I can’t believe how much packaging there is.  There’s boxes of T-discs in foil wrappers.  The discs themselves are plastic and foil.  There’s water filters wrapped in plastic.  There’s none of this stuff if I just make a pot of coffee. Or even froth some hot milk.

The wasted pods after making three drinks.

The wasted pods after making three drinks.

I try a chai latte.  It’s okay.  Too sweet, actually.  I wouldn’t add sugar if I made it or bought it myself.  Oh look, sugar in the package ingredients.  And some weird other chemical sounding things.

The next day I try a regular latte.  It’s not really good.  And not really latte like.  And hey look more weird ingredients.  I guess that’s what you get when you can store milk discs on the shelf.

I look into the price of the replacement T-discs.  They run around $5-$10 for 10-16 cups of coffee. WHAT?!  If you are like me and not buying coffee at Starbucks everyday, that is insanely expensive.

I can spend up to $15 on a package of coffee, from run of the mill boring stuff to exceptionally good fair trade stuff and still come up WAY WAY less than that in cost.  That package or tin of coffee can make so many more cups of coffee than one Tassimo package.  And of course to make my own coffee means I am controlling what’s in it.  Everyday, I take a large flask of coffee to work that probably costs me about 50 cents to make.  Maybe less.  That includes flask, mug, coffee, cream and sugar.

If I want a specialty coffee, which I don’t have that often, the Second Cup makes a great latte.  Greater than the one I made, for sure.


  1. Weird contest that wasn’t really a contest
  2. Too much packaging
  3. Strange ingredients
  4. Expensive coffee
  5. Doesn’t taste that great

Sorry, you’re out.  I decided I needed to give this machine to someone else.  Someone who will appreciate it.  Luckily I have a good real life friend who also asked @TassimoCanada for a machine.  I hope that in her situation, they will get way more use out of it.

I saw Tassimo t-discs at the grocery store the other night and they made me scowl.  I follow someone else who said this today, and I totally grinned.

For me, this PR exercise has been sort of a disaster.  But I’m just me.  On a larger scale, this is an interesting experiment that has probably worked.  I mean, the fact that people are talking about Tassimo so much that other people want to block them means they are getting word of mouth.  And it sounds like other people like the coffee/tea.  Good.  Just not me.

This isn’t about the Tassimo machine.  It’s about me. The lesson for me is to kick that devil back in the head.  Greed is not good.  Free stuff ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

(One day I will learn. I am probably not ready yet. I am still a greedy bugger.)

14 Responses to “Looking the gift horse straight down the throat”

  1. L Says:

    hey cool coffee maker! Glad you won, but yeah its an eco disaster. Neighbour has one, wanted me to be impressed, I can only be horrified at the waste.

  2. Ainse Says:

    Thank you for writing this, Emma. I didn’t know how the whole thing worked, only that every second tweet (with picture) was about someone receiving their free Tassimo. I also saw you could “win” one if you attended some coffee chat event thing downtown (during the workday, who the hell can attend that?). I feel better knowing the whole story behind it.

  3. Tatiana Says:

    I have to tell you, I HATED seeing the begging. HATED. I DM’d TassimoCanada asking them not to give machines to people who were making fools of themselves with the begging. I had no problem with people like you saying “Uh hey, you need to follow me for me to DM you”, but the ones who were tweeting @TassimoCanada constantly about how they needed the machine, how their friend needed it, how much they suddenly loved coffee, etc etc… made me want to cry.

    But I agree w/you & Yahoo Canada: hearing about the Tassimo machines is overwhelming and kind of obnoxious now. For myself, I wanted to send out a message about mine once a day, mostly to show my gratitude to them for choosing me & letting me experience their product (also because I genuinely enjoy it!), but seeing as how many people are now BLAH BLAH TASSIMO TASSIMO BLAH TASSIMO, everyone’s words have less value. People skim over tweets w/the brand name in it now. They gave away so damned many!

    I dunno. I feel like people are being very disingenuous.

    And re: the amount of “waste” — so true! I saw someone tweet TassimoCanada & ask if the discs are recyclable, but didn’t catch a reply.

    • EWiller Says:

      I think it was kellidaisy (sorry if I got her name wrong) who said yesterday you can recycle the plastic bit of the pods. It’s still sort of not enough for me – and I’m not even that green. To use a re-usable coffee filter or even a brown paper filter is a lot less wasteful.

      And Tatiana, yeah, what a mess!!

  4. urbanvox Says:

    Got one of those… never used it… LOL…
    ebay much?!?!?! 🙂

  5. Tami Says:

    For me, I don’t like to think that it was a greedy begging thing. I think I’m just pissed that because I’m not a mommy blogger or mommy twitter that I never get free stuff EVER despite how many contests I enter. I never win anything! So here Tassimo is handing out coffee makers like candy and I wanted one too. Not for me but for the BF who asked for one last xmas. I don’t even drink coffee! I only tweeted once so hopefully I’m not considered one of those greedy begger types but I guess I did kinda jump on the bandwagon. But really it was just because for once, I wanted to win something too!

    • EWiller Says:

      But it wasn’t just for moms. It was for anyone. I don’t normally enter contests just for moms! That’s not normally a requirement for any contest.
      And I’m not saying people shouldn’t have asked for them, I’m saying that the give away was sort of borked. The rules changed and were never clear. And I personally shouldn’t have asked for something that I didn’t really want. It’s about me, not about you!! 🙂

  6. Tami Says:

    I didn’t mean it lilke that! Ugh, I never write clear enough to get my point across. Sorry!

    I meant, most of the contests are for moms. So I never enter because hell, why would I need a body hammock or stroller or some type of breast suction device? But with all the other contests out there that I do enter, I never win!

    I was hoping to explain why I (like others) jumped on the bandwagon. It’s human nature. Someone is standing on a street corner giving free stuff away, of COURSE you’re going to take it! Who cares if you need it or not!

    I don’t consider myself greedy or anyone for that matter. Tassimo was offering and evidently giving lots out so why shouldn’t the rest of us put our hand out?

    • EWiller Says:

      Maybe because you aren’t following the same people as me. There are people literally begging. Do a twitter search for tassimo. See what Tatiana said too. I don’t object at all to people putting their hand out. I did too.
      It just all kind of fell down in implementation. People were confused, at first. The rules aren’t clear. I totally think people should ask. I asked for everything else I won on twitter too.
      Should they ask 50 times? I don’t know the answer to that. It’s just rubbing me the wrong way.

  7. Gabriella Says:

    Like you I NEVER win anything so when I saw this going around on Twitter I followed them and next day got an email askiing for my address and I should be getting one shortly. Pretty shocked considering I did nothing but follow. So am now waiting for my machine. It makes me laugh because I do see the tweets of people begging for one and I followed them one night and that was all.
    We’ll see how much I like the coffee..I’m pretty picky about coffee so…

  8. Lady Mama Says:

    Um, that is insane – the expense and the unnecessary packaging!? I’m happy with my espresso machine. I make a latte every single day and it tastes exactly the same as a Starbucks latte. I really don’t like the sound of those packaged ones with all the strange ingredients… I know exactly what goes into mine. Good for you for giving an honest review though. The whole thing sounded a little weird.

  9. magpie Says:

    I’ve never quite understood those machines for all of the same things you mention. That said, our office has a k-cup machine that is the bomb. We only get plain coffee or tea, none of that flavored stuff or mock latte. And yeah, the cups make a lot of trash, but in the office setting, it’s okay, because it’s so clean and tidy. No pots to wash!

  10. devin Says:

    Thanks for the help I love this monitor easy-to-use single cup coffee maker.

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