NutriSystem Relents, Offers Refunds to Sickened Customers
Peanut butter granola bars among hundreds of food products recalled
A Virginia woman says she became “deathly ill” after eating some of NutriSystem’s peanut butter granola bars. Those granola bars are included in the massive recall of peanut butter products that contain ingredients made by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA). That company is the focus of an investigation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) into the nationwide salmonella outbreak, which has sickened more than 470 people in 43 states and may be linked the deaths of six others.
“I was so sick,” Sandra M. of Salem, Virginia, told us. “I had probably eaten about 15 to 20 of those granola bars over a three-week period.”
Sandra says she had cramping, abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea, and blood in her stools – symptoms that health officials say are consistent with salmonella poisoning. When Sandra contacted NutriSystems about a refund, though, the company refused. “They said we only give replacement bars – not refunds. I told them I don’t want any replacements. Think about it. Why would I want replacement bars? Those products made me sick.” Sandra’s husband confirmed his wife’s illness — and NutriSystem’s refusal to refund the couple’s money.
“She had a headache, diarrhea, blood in her stools and abdominal pains,” Howard M. told us. “She really got sick. I didn’t get sick, but I didn’t eat as many of those granola bars.” NutriSystem, he says, didn’t seem interested in listening to their concerns. “They asked us why she kept eating them if they made her sick,” he says, adding his wife’s illness started before the company recalled the granola bars on January 19. “When she first got sick, we didn’t know the granola bars were a problem. She finally got better when she stopped eating them.”
How did the company respond when they asked for their money back? “NutriSystem wouldn’t give us a refund,” Howard says, adding each bar cost $2.75. “They said they would only send up replacement bars. We don’t want those. I wouldn’t eat their food for nothing anymore. “They were not very nice.”
Consumer_Affairs.com called NutriSystem’s toll-free number and asked about refunds on the recalled granola bars. A representative told them the company would only issue replacement bars – not refunds.
When we sent an e-mail to NutriSytem’s public relations office, however, we received a different response.
“It is absolutely our policy to grant a refund any time that a substitution is not acceptable to one of our clients,” Sheri Keiles, NutriSytem’s vice-president of public relations, told us. “Due to your e-mail, we will be issuing a reminder to all of our customer service representatives that our base policy certainly applies to the Peanut Butter Bar. Thank you so much for your feedback.”
The company’s director of customer service, John Calabrese, told us he would personally contact Howard and Sandra and process their refund.
“I sincerely apologize and will contact our clients today as well as address the service provided,” he said.
Howard and Sandra are grateful someone finally listened to their concerns.
“We called the company and got no satisfaction,” Sandra said. “I couldn’t get my money back.” Howard added: “I thank you very much.”
NutriSystem customers who would like a refund on the recalled granola bars can contact the company at 1-866-491-6425.