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Cup controversy at Tim Hortons


A St. John's man steaming mad over a Tim Hortons coffee he recently bought may be the latest Atlantic Canadian caught in a cup controversy over the chain's Roll up the Rim to Win contest. Complaints continue to come in from eastern Canadians who think Tim Hortons staff are rolling up the rim to check for winners first, then passing off losing cups. Bernard Delaney thinks that's what happened to him March 13 when he bought his usual coffee while on his way to work.

Bernard Delaney of St. John's bought a coffee at the Water Street west location and says it looked to him like an employee had already tried to Roll up the Rim to Win. Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

A St. John's man steaming mad over a Tim Hortons coffee he recently bought may be the latest Atlantic Canadian caught in a cup controversy over the chain's Roll up the Rim to Win contest. Complaints continue to come in from eastern Canadians who think Tim Hortons staff are rolling up the rim to check for winners first, then passing off losing cups.

Bernard Delaney thinks that's what happened to him March 13 when he bought his usual coffee while on his way to work.

"I stopped that morning for my coffee and drank my French vanilla and when I opened it up to roll the rim, it was already rolled and basically I almost threw up my guts," Delaney told The Telegram.

Delaney saw what he believes were tooth marks on the rim made by an employee who was checking for a winner.

"It just turned my stomach," said Delaney, who isn't looking for compensation, but did complain to the owners.

Michael Van De Weil co-owns two Tim Hortons locations in St. John's, including one on Water Street west where Delaney bought his controversial cup. Van de Weil reviewed security video tape from the store in question.

"We watched his cup go out of the store. We saw it. Nobody touched his cup with their teeth, we're quite convinced of that. If we did, we'd have one less employee," said Van De Weil.

Van De Weil says the problem could be with his store's spring-loaded cup dispenser, which sometimes pulls too hard on the rim of the last few cups in a stack. Or, he says, the problem could be one that is proving to be a headache for him and other Tim Hortons store owners in Atlantic Canada.

Van De Weil says Tim Hortons' cup manufacturer made some contest cups this year that look like they've already been rolled up.

"Apparently there was an issue with the machine that rolls down the lids - but you need to talk to corporate (head office) about that."

Rachel Douglas, Tim Hortons director of public affairs, confirmed there's a problem.

"Tim Hortons became aware of a manufacturing issue with a small number of Roll Up the Rim to Win cups in Atlantic Canada. Because of this minor issue customers may have obtained a cup that appears to be rolled up or puckered along the rim," Douglas said in a statement to The Telegram.

Douglas said the issue is a potential problem only for smaller prizes of free donuts and coffee. Cups announcing major prizes of cars, boats, global positioning systems and $50 voucher cards were inspected by hand before being distributed.

"We have taken steps to remedy this situation. This minor issue has not impacted the odds of winning a prize. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused," said Douglas, who did not respond to follow up questions about how many puckered cups are still in Atlantic Canada.

Meanwhile, Van De Weil is getting an earful from some of his caffeinated customers.

"We did have a few more complaints this year but we do know what the problem is," said Van De Weil.

While faulty cups have been identified as a problem, Van De Weil expects more complaints as they use up their supply of contest cups.

"It's difficult on our staff. They're the ones on the front lines hearing the complaints."

He says most complaining customers are satisfied when they hear about the puckered problem and "go on their way."

Not Delaney.

Despite learning about the problem cups and receiving a personal visit at work from the owners presenting him with another contest cup and the results of their video review, Delaney is still convinced an employee sank their teeth into his French vanilla rim.

"We did try to talk and explain what happened, but some people you can't talk with," said Van De Weil. "You can see how serious people take the roll-up cups."

pwalsh@thetelegram.com

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