When Coca-Cola (NYSE:
) decided to create Coke Freestyle, it aimed to produce the
ultimate cola machine. The company envisioned a future where
consumers could use one fountain to obtain more than one hundred
different flavors. That vision became a reality in 2009 when
Coca-Cola began to ship the first Freestyle machines.
"It (the new fountain) broadens the exposure for our brands and
gives us a chance to drive significant growth to our customers,"
Chandra Stephens-Albright, group director for marketing and
business development at Coca-Cola, told
in September 2009.
"The first time we saw Coca-Cola Freestyle, we knew it would
revolutionize the beverage industry and we welcomed a test with our
partners at Coca-Cola," Robin Sorensen, co-founder of Firehouse
Subs, said in a
. "Customers rave about Coca-Cola Freestyle. It offers an
interactive experience that when combined with our subs, is
unmatched, and has led to a substantial increase in beverage sales.
We're pumped to be the first national chain on the planet to bring
the fountain of the future to all of our loyal customers."
Coke Freestyle has earned support from a number of prominent
clients, including select AMC movie theaters, Five Guys and Burger
King. McDonald's (NYSE:
) is currently
the new format but has not committed to putting a Coke Freestyle
machine in every restaurant.
With so much support (and
) Likes), one might assume that Coke Freestyle is a unilateral hit.
Take a closer look, however, and you will find a rising number of
complaints surrounding the concept.
"…These dumb ol' Freestyle machines are so busy offering you
over 100 soda flavor combinations that they all end up tasting
wrong," CultureMap Austin's Michael Graupmann wrote in his
published a story on Coke Freestyle, readers turned to the comments
section to share their complaints.
"Neat idea, but you can't do multiple drinks at once like you
can with current machines," Jim wrote. "When the waiter gets sodas
for a table, getting four drinks is fast. This will be a lot
slower, especially if he has to hunt for the drink.
'The major problem with the new touch screen coke fountains,
while attractive, they produce bad tasting products," Anna wrote.
"The coke tastes off (strange) and flat -- even when the system is
flushed out with water. The new fountains are slow and the touch
screen is frustratingly unresponsive at times."
Another Examiner reader, Kelly, agreed. She said that she
initially thought the "horrible" taste was caused by her own error
in selecting the wrong drink. That was not the case. "Gave it a
second try and tastes even worse the second time around," she
wrote. "I guess the good news is that this machine will help me
kick my soda habit."
User complaints are not limited to the comments section of the
aforementioned article. They can also be found in the comments
section of the
Coke Freestyle review
on Esquire as well.
"I have to echo everyone's complaints and say these machines
suck," Ryan Geery wrote. "I want a separate nozzle for the coke so
it doesn't have to share w/ the other 105 flavors."
"I now avoid places installing these machines," Dawson List
added. "The last coke I got from one I had to pour out because it
was contaminated with other flavors."
"I think this invention its cool and looks futuristic but the
soda sucks [because] you still have left over flavors in the line
so [it's] like getting all flavors at once," Makayla Lackey
While Twitter is mostly filled with hype for the new machines
(particularly the technology behind Coke Freestyle), there have
been a few complaints.
"I don't want to start a twitter war, but the products in Coke
freestyle machines always taste a LITTLE watered down,"
tweeted last year.
"@thailure I've never liked the free style machines,"
replied. "The cherry coke tastes like cough syrup."
Coke Freestyle is still in beta. However, there has been no
evidence to suggest that the company has improved its machines
since they were introduced in 2009.
The complaints are so prevalent and have been so consistent that
you can even find them on
that have nothing to do with Coca-Cola.
"Some on the RCCL threads about these machines have also
complained that the flavors can cross-contaminate," cyclenut wrote.
"A simple Diet Coke can taste a little orange if the person in
front of you just used orange."
"The most common problem I run into, at least from a flavor
perspective, is that most everything picks up a cherry flavor if
many people have used cherry between thorough cleanings," mousebrat
wrote. "Running water before getting a drink does not help."
"I dislike them too," design_mom added. "I like my Coke plain
and it always seems to taste funny from the freestyle machines
(hint of lime, hint of orange, etc.). I've tried running the
machine for a bit without my cup underneath -- but that's wasteful,
and only marginally helps."
(c) 2013 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice.
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