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Trader Joe's warning - and request

I went to Trader Joe's for the first time two days ago, and it's a testament to my food dorkery that it was the highlight of my week... that place is a lot of fun and everything looks so great but you really have no way of knowing.

For example, I bought some frozen cioppino that sounded really great from reading the ingredients list (nothing artificial, all things I would put in my own seafood stew), but the fish pieces ended up being nasty fibrous cubes, and the huge mussels came with all of their massive beards intact.

So, I don't recommend the cioppino. But can Chowhounders tell me what IS safe to buy at TJ's?

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  1. I love TJ chocolate tea. Put a little milk in there, oh yum!

    Their frozen cherries have no taste. Blech.

    1. Don't forget, you can return anything you don't like and they are terrific about it.

      7 Replies
      1. re: GretchenS

        Return it and they'll give you your money back on anything...even if you open a bottle of wine and take a swig and don't like it. They want you to be happy.

        1. re: monku

          This is NOT true in NYC. Just a FYI. If the wine is corked, meaning the wine is spoiled due to cork taint, they'll give you a replacement bottle of the same. You cannot return wine that is unopened because they don't know of the environment where its been (read too hot or too cold). Be aware of this especially if you like purchasing your wine by the case [in NYC]. I'm not sure if TJ's wants us to be UNhappy or if they are just abiding by New York City liquor laws. I think it's the latter.

          1. re: Cheese Boy

            Is that what NYC TJ's said?

            *Our Product Guarantee: We tried it! We liked it! If you don’t, bring it back for a full refund, no questions asked.

            1. re: monku

              Really? I was told they'd have to open a bottle and if it was fine with them, then it's fine 'period'. Who are we to question the tastes of the TJ wine Gods?!?!?

              No lie. That's what I was told. I was also told if the wine is corked, they expect you to bring the bottle with the wine still in it for an even "exchange". NO REFUNDS. Apparently, too many people were taking advantage of their refund policy and drinking free wine essentially .

              1. re: Cheese Boy

                I never had to return a bottle of wine to them. But one day I was looking at a bottle and that's what the employee told me. I didn't like it for any reason they'd take it back and give me a refund.

                1. re: Cheese Boy

                  It does depend on who you talk to. There are usually 4 people in upper management at any one store. Talk to a Merchant or Captain, not one of the crew members.

                  I've had them open up the store an hour earlier for me because I was on my to a client's and needed something that morning before I went. I have always gotten to know the Captain's at all my stores, given them my card, and then been able to get special treatment.

                  I guess when you are spending $200-300 a week there, they will go out of their way. They also compete between stores for sales, so they all want your business.

                  1. re: personalcheffie

                    I went to their web site and posted a question and was called by the Northeast regional manager, very nice customer service. He told me that TJ has an absolutely no questions asked return policy. I would just speak with the manager if you get any hassle or send an email via the TJ web site.

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          1. I love the haricots vert, the tiny skinny green beans.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Candy

              Thanks all. I should be more specific: I am most interested in hearing recommendations for prepared food items.

              1. re: frenetica

                They all pretty much suck. How can such highly processed, mass produced food have any life or truly delicious flavor in it?(even if it looks cute in it's wrapping). I buy Greek yogurt, jarred Morello cherries (great deal), nuts,organic cherry preserves,crackers,oils, vinegar,s mustard and that's about it at TJ's. I have tasted several prepared items when they are being sampled and NEVER tasted anything I would eat again.

                1. re: missclaudy

                  I agree with criticism of prepared foods. they all pretty much suck. just because they don't have a lot of artificial this or that, they are mass produced, prepared long ago and far away. why buy crap like that.

            2. i get the following from trader joe's almost weekly!

              pork and vegetable gyozas
              tuna and potato curry (comes in a single serving pouch for $1.39 and is
              perfect for a portable lunch)
              chicken drumettes
              fire roasted vegetables (frozen section)