Friday, April 30, 2010

Goodwill, goodbye

I am not going to be extreme and crazy saying I will never go to Starbucks again. I can't say that. For one, today is National Honesty Day and saying that would be a lie. We can’t have that! However, I can say that Starbucks has lost me as a regular morning visitor. Once, and every so often, twice, a week I would go to Starbucks before work and pick up a coffee and a breakfast sandwich. A couple months ago I noticed they were serving up a bold coffee each week and I would get a cup of that because I do like to try new coffees. Some were horrid, some were good. So my weekly routine continued throughout these weeks; trying a new coffee, a smile or a shrug, and back to my car and off to work.

Starbucks Coffee PassportThis last Sunday I was at Starbucks doing homework and I overheard one of the partners telling a customer about this coffee passport they are doing. I then heard an advertisement on Pandora Radio of the same thing. The combination of these two encounters made me nerdy-happy and I was excited for today’s visit so I could get a coffee passport and work my way through some coffees. The bonus for completing your passport is a free pound of coffee. Why shouldn’t I have been a littler nerdy-happy?

Since I am quite regular at coming, I’ve come used to the (weirdly named) pairing of the tall coffee and breakfast sandwich for $3.95. With my own cup, the total cost is $4.15 and I hand over my (registered, mind you) Starbucks card and just walk away. It is usually around 6:30am so I’m still a bit tired and not all present mentally.

That is my history. The following is my present.

Friday morning and it’s time to give myself my assigned weekly treat, Starbucks for the AM. That’s what I call it. Actually, that is what I just now called it; I’ve never referred to it that way and, come to think of it, probably never will again. So I show up and say hello to the people I see every week and they cordially say hello, making no recognition of my face or that I frequent this location on a regular and predictable basis. I have come to expect such treatment and am not too bothered because I really don’t like small talk. It would be nice to hear a “Nice to see you again,” every now and then though.

/* Begin tangent */
I used to come each Friday morning with my personal Grande tumbler and order a Grande, 2-pump, sugar-free hazelnut, non-fat latte. That is not a typical drink. Months of standing in line and watching other people order and me, as a customer, I would come to recognize regulars that come in about the same time as I do. The partners would acknowledge them and recall their drink for them by name. “Linda, are you getting your tall, vanilla chai today?” “Chris, do you want your Grande, bold coffee this morning?” Boring, normal drinks and they could recall their names and drinks. I am sure you can guess how often did they recalled my drink. Once. (No, I’m not going to exaggerate, remember, this is National Honesty Day.) There were times when I was greeting with a welcoming, knowing smile. But those are far and few between. While I do not wish to have a conversation with everyone I meet, it does go a long way to be acknowledged and that you are more than just a face in the crowd.
/* End tangent */
I order my coffee and sandwich as I normally do and hand over my Starbucks card and decline my receipt. Something pings in the back of my mind, but I’m still not fully awake and my brain may just be remembering something from 3 weeks ago I was trying to remember (that wasn’t it, but it turns out I remembered later what I was trying to remember, those dinosaur fossil roly-poly’s – anyways). I shrugged off that brief poke in my head and asked for one of those coffee passport thingies. He looks at me weird and asks someone else what I was talking about and she tells him they are out. I then proceed to tell them that I heard and advertisement for it just on Sunday. “I’m sorry. This is the last week for doing that, we are now collecting the people’s passports.” Oh, is that so? I just looked at them with a tired, blank look on my face and dully said, “That’s great, it would have been nice if someone would have mentioned it to me. I’ve only been drinking the coffee every week now.” I was offered a non-heartfelt “Sorry.” I herd myself over to the pass-counter and wait for my sandwich to be toasted. While I stand there, I decided that since I can’t do that coffee passport, I don’t want this horrid cup of Sumatra coffee I asked for and requested it be replaced with the normal Pikes Place blend. I have tried to use my skills of sleuth-ness and I have deduced her name is Jo and she is the store manager. She is always kind and was happy to trade out my coffee. (I did find it comical that she asked if it was a tall coffee when it was in their paper cup, not my personal mug.) My sandwich is passed off to me without eye contact or a thank-you, and I’m off to work with drink and food in hand. I get to the doors and that tickle in the back of my mind I ignored earlier had transitioned to a gong in my ear. I turn back and head over to the line that is formed and wait to talk to the fellow who rang me up. To my relief the friendly, probable-manager saw me come back and stand there and she asked me what was up. I told her my remembrance of being charged $5.50 something for my drink and sandwich just a few moments ago and she said they don’t ring up the pairing automatically any longer, unless we specifically request it, and that it was being phased out anyways. Well that is stupid, just stupid. My day that normally starts off as a treat has been reduced to disappointment and sour feelings of lost goodwill I once had.

I will no longer be ordering these breakfast sandwiches. I will no longer be stopping by Starbucks for a regular cup of coffee. I will be reducing my visits to special treats with the wife and daughter and a once a month, aforementioned, special latte. This kind of sucks for me too, because I really enjoyed going in the mornings, but I am going to be voicing my opinion and voting for change with my wallet.

I’m sorry, Starbucks, but you have lost a lot of my goodwill towards your company.


eighmee said...

Have you tried maybe going to a different location? I feel like there are just some stores that are better than others..