Up for discussion: Free tall beverage when buying Starbucks whole bean coffee.(New packaging causing a problem?)

by Melody on November 26, 2011

Are you getting your free tall ANY beverage with the purchase of a pound of whole bean or half pound of Reserve™ Coffee?  Starbucks clearly promises in their MyStarbucksRewards program that the customer may receive ANY tall size beverage free when buying a pound of whole bean coffee, or when buying a half pound of Reserve™ coffee.

** Please jump now to the very bottom of this article and take a look at the receipt where the register did not give the perk.  Is this happening in your area too?   Is there a wide-spread register problem?**

Just to be clear, here is exactly what the perk is:

  • Any beverage (literally any tall beverage) free when buying a pound of whole bean coffee OR a half-pound of Reserve™ Coffee.
  • This is a “green” level perk – The card must be registered and have been used five times.
  • The card must be used as the form of payment : There must be money on the card that is used to pay for the whole bean coffee.
  • Though not in writing, I’ve always assumed that Smoothies are excluded since they are only available in the “grande” size.
  • The customer may not take the price of a tall beverage and use it towards a larger size (and higher priced) beverage.

There are definite perks to Starbucks by having this program.  One perk is that it creates loyalty, and especially so  in a time of a recession.  At this point, nearly one in every four transactions at the register involves a Starbucks card.  A registered card with money on it creates a strong incentive to come back to the store.  It creates a database of email addresses to send card-related promotional and advertising information.  It creates a database to help learn about customer buying habits.  And customers load a billion dollars onto registered cards.  In the most recent investor relations quarterly conference call, Starbucks reported that in fiscal 2010, customers loaded nearly a BILLION dollars on registered cards.  That’s a lot of money that Starbucks gets on cards.  All of the above things are valuable to Starbucks.  And the fact of the matter is that free syrups like vanilla are not so expensive.  Even a free tall beverage WITH a pound of beans is not terribly expensive to the business. Starbucks loses a lot more in drink remakes, partners giving out free drinks to friends, and other operational waste.

All of the above sounds good, so where is the problem?

It does look as if there is a problem.   I hope that in the comments, I will be proven wrong.  The problems seem to be as follows:

  • Many partners erroneously think this perk is a gold-level benefit.
  • Many partners don’t know this perk exists at all.
  • Many partners think that the perk is a free brewed coffee – not ANY tall beverage.
  • And I’ve heard of some partners saying that it must be a coffee-related beverage, not ANY beverage.

So why is this important?

The “Starbucks experience” relies on baristas delivering great conversations.  Let’s face it, customers don’t have feelings for registers.  They like talking to people.  And it is totally human nature to have a conversation about a free perk.  Totally normal.  I guarantee that in every area of retail this happens.  Customers walk up to employees and say things like, “are these socks really 3 for $15?” “Is the denim included in the 40% off sale?”  “Is the dinner salad included in that daily dinner special deal?”  “Is it an all-you-can-eat salad bar?”  “You’ve got all the soda machines in the eating area.  Can I refill my cup with either iced tea, diet coke, or lemonade?”  “Will my Vanilla syrup be free in my latte?” I’ve pulled examples from all kinds of retail business, and the point is, these conversations will happen.  These conversations are important.

If baristas deliver the wrong information to a customer, an awkward moment happens.  It’s doesn’t matter that the register will get it right.  The register can’t speak up.  Some customers will feel let down: they were sure that they were entitled to that benefit, and now they won’t get that tall drink at all.  This is terrible for the experience!  Some customers might be angry.  True, some customers won’t care, but the fact of the matter is that a large number of customers are on a tight budget and will care whether the beverage is free or not.  You can’t be angry at people for having a budget.  Welcome to the recession.

So the real question is why is there a problem?  Here are some possible reasons:

  • Long ago, before the 2008 addition of registered card benefits, there was a perk of free tall coffee – that previous history gets confused with current perks.
  • There is a separate perk that allows customers to buy a pound of beans in grocery stores and come into the stores and get a free tall coffee – that perk gets confused with current MyStarbucksRewards perks.
  • It doesn’t come up as an issue all that frequently:  Starbucks reports that about 4% of sales are whole bean sales.  And only one in four customers is paying with a Starbucks card.  That means that the issue only comes up possibly a handful of times a day.  There’s no doubt, if Starbucks sold more whole bean, partners would face this issue more often.  Though at the scale of 60 MILLION customers a week cycling through Starbucks, that still means that there will be  a lot of opportunity for partners to talk to customers about this perk.
  • Partners are trained incorrectly.  It could be that one partner who doesn’t know the perk tells other partners wrong information, perpetuating a problem.
  • Signage perpetuates wrong information:  I have seen stores with chalkboard signs that say that you get any tall beverage with a gold card.  This perpetuates the wrong information that somehow you need to have a gold card to get this perk.
  • The registers somehow mess this up – I am totally baffled why this would happen, but I hear about this often.  If the registers don’t give a free drink when it is a perk, the barista who thought she knew the benefits will likely be left doubting herself!
  • Starbucks does a poor job of getting updated information to the stores.  It was just this year that Starbucks added the perk that you now get a tall any beverage free with the purchase of  Starbucks Reserve™  Coffee.  They’ve never bothered to update their website.  How can I possibly expect the store partners to know perks if Starbucks doesn’t even bother to update their website:

A good friend in Illinois sent me this receipt.  I know this person, and I know he’s been a registered card holder for years and years.  I know he’s been at the gold level for a long time, and every year since MyStarbucksRewards began.  I am baffled, but the register just didn’t give the perk:

The problem can be the register too.

Please stay civil in the comments.  If you write in all caps, your comment will not be approved.  Do not attack.  If there is ANY personal attack in your comment, it will be deleted.  Discussions end where personalization and attacks begin.  Do not use the insulting expression, “you people …”  And please make a suggestion on how Starbucks could improve this experience, if you can.  Suggestions for improvement are a great idea.

What have your experiences been when it comes to receiving this MyStarbucksRewards perk?  Are the registers a problem in your area?

Lastly, keep in mind that this blog post only pertains to the U.S. and Canada version of MyStarbucksRewards.  I have heard that there are international programs (e.g. China) with completely different benefits, and this blog post does not address those international programs.

*** EDIT:  Take a look at the comments below.  It seems as though the new whole bean packaging is causing a problem when ringing up this perk.  I assume this will be fixed, but at the moment it’s causing problems.***

 

 

Post to Twitter

{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy in Boston November 26, 2011 at 9:17 am

I always get my free drink but sometimes when I see a new partner they get confused. I asked yesterday for a free gingerbread latte and she said,”You can only get brewed coffee,” and when I told her that is not true she talked to another partner and was clarified in the policy.

I thought that when you get a pound of coffee and then buy a drink, the drink should come off automatically, but apparently that didn’t happen with the example that you used.

Chris W. November 26, 2011 at 9:26 am

Interesting issue with the above receipt. I wonder if there is an error in the system since we took the ‘Flavorlock’ button off the POS. That is supposed to force partners into scanning bags of coffee as all the SKU’s change to reflect the new packaging. (Old bag of Espresso has a different SKU than the bag of Espresso in the new packaging.)
Too many changes even for partners! I go out of my way to try to get customers to get and register Starbucks cards so they can enjoy the benefits, if the registers won’t give them, it makes us look silly.
Thanks Melody!

Melody November 26, 2011 at 9:28 am

@ChrisW – That is a great comment! Thank you. I wonder if the Illinois receipt was for coffee in the new packaging?? It really makes me wonder if there is a SKU problem with new packages of coffee. I may have to test that out today! Thank you Chris.

Dorothy Stewart November 26, 2011 at 9:39 am

Melody,

Thanks for bringing this issue up. I actually thought that Starbucks still gave you a free cup with every pound (Peet’s does). And, although I’m a Rewards Member I didn’t know you had to be to get your free beverage. However, this has happened to me on more than one occasion in California stores. No mention of having a free cup and sometimes when I’ve asked, they response has been, “I can go ahead and give you a cup.” ;0

What’s up with that?

theatrenut November 26, 2011 at 9:56 am

I take advantage of this perk frequently. I used to think it was a tall coffee, which is what I ordered. Once I realized it was any tall beverage, I order something “fancier.” I’ve never had a problem having this item ring up as free.

purple1 November 26, 2011 at 9:57 am

Melody – this blog post so successfully captured the issues raised in the earlier post re this matter and thank you for doing this. I sort of believe that as new or transferred partners come into a store there is not uniform training so of course the rewards perks are not always discussed or explained. Also, perhaps there are different strategies and rules in each district so what one district might do does not mean another district does. I think the training program needs to be updated. I also agree perhaps the new coffee packaging with the SKU numbers might be an issue.

rainbow fruits & nuts November 26, 2011 at 10:14 am

I have to wonder… Does the beverage being a promotional featured item not count? Promotional beverages are often tracked to see how well they are doing, maybe that effects the discount. I assume that it could just be coding in the pos symphony program, one that may have been missed with the update in the new promotion, I think originally the system forgot to take peppermint off peppermint mochas, but that has since been fixed, so hopefully they will update the system. Many things to ponder!

Jess November 26, 2011 at 10:15 am

I make a point to tell people about the benefit, when I give them the spiel about registering the Starbucks card. Stores in my area will still give a free tall drip with a pound of beans, which makes things very confusing. If someone asks about their “free tall drink” before they pull out their form of payment and I can see that they have a gold card (or other Starbucks card, but unfortunately, there’s no way for us to tell if a card is at the green level, just if it’s registered, before they pay), it’s very confusing to have to explain that I’ll give them a tall coffee however they pay but the free talk whatever drink is only if they have a registered starbucks card they’ve used at least 5 times. *sigh* When I see they have an eligible card, I tell them next time they buy a pound of beans, just order the drink and don’t ask the barista about it. It will come off automatically, we don’t do anything. This is also why we can’t make an exception for a grande or venti or “charge the difference.”

….Except that lately, it hasn’t been working consistently. I do think it has to do with the new packaging. When that’s happened and I know someone is eligible, I just refund them the cost of the drink and then “right now recovery” it. It’s a pain and adds more confusion to what should be a fairly straightforward benefit. I really hope they straighten this out soon.

CD November 26, 2011 at 10:19 am

The coffee I purchased was in the new packaging. I bought a pound in the new packaging last week too but didn’t get a receipt and the “Transaction History” on my card only goes back a couple of days (I go to Starbucks a lot…) so I don’t know if I was charged correctly or not for that purchase (yes Steve, I should get a receipt every time). Ironically, for last week’s purchase I avoided buying a pound in the old packaging and waited until I was in a store with the new packaging.

It could very well be the SKU that’s causing this.

P.S. I do want to say again that the Lake Zurich store is amazing and the partners are fantastic – they truly do represent the best of Starbucks and they make everyone feel very welcome. This is a Starbucks issue, not a specific partner or store issue.

Melody November 26, 2011 at 10:20 am

All the comments above are so great. How interesting – I think we may have solved the mystery why there is a sudden rash of problems – new packaging. ?? Thank you Jess for weighing in. Well, and thank you for being legendary!

CD November 26, 2011 at 10:31 am

Melody – remember the conversation a week or so ago where DadCooks and others said Starbucks should pay you for this blog? I understand your position (and agree with it) as to why you don’t think compensation from Starbucks is the right thing to do, but I want to point out how you and your community have potentially solved something in a matter of minutes that would have take Starbucks considerably more time to uncover.

Hopefully someone in the SSC is reading this thread and will get confirm it’s the new SKUs that are causing the problem and get the POS updated quickly.

Melody November 26, 2011 at 10:34 am

@CD – I see what you’re saying. The blog is the communication vehicle. Thank you to really amazing SMs like @ChrisW and partners like @Jess who had already figured out what the problem was.

True though, I hope someone at the SSC reads this. It’s a problem that will continue to cause confusion if not the registers aren’t quickly fixed.

purple1 November 26, 2011 at 10:42 am

Have to agree with CD’s latest comment. Isn’t that interesting! Pat yourself on the back Melody.

Marc November 26, 2011 at 10:57 am

I used to ask the barista if I had a free coffee, but this brought a lot of confusion, so nowadays when I get the pound of coffee I just order any tall beverage as if I were to pay it, and when they swipe the card it gets discounted automatically.

One problem I am having now in the rewards program is that my stars are not adding up, I have talked to Sbux but they haven’t fix it

Blakeco123 November 26, 2011 at 12:08 pm

I haven’t ever bought coffee beans from Starbucks (im more of a tea person), but I have gotten several of those receipts where if you fill out a survey online you get a free tall drink, its a nice surprise and it can get people to take the survey because they get a reward. However (back on topic) I have seen some one bring up the whole “I get a free tall drink, right?” thing, and one barista was very uninformed about the policy while another was. I think if you buy beans you should just order your drink and have it discounted automatically without bringing the baristas attention to it, its less confusing and doesn’t slow the line down.

Melody November 26, 2011 at 12:28 pm

@Blakeco123 – Totally agree it works better when you say nothing at all about the free drink, but that is not going to stop those conversations. 60 million customers a week. Many of those folks maybe new to the rewards programs. Those people who are new to MyStarbucksRewards are most likely to be confused, and unsure, and ask for clarification. Not good when they get wrong info. That’s where have knowledgeable store partners is great!

denise r November 26, 2011 at 1:48 pm

@Melody: I’m glad you put this up as an entire thread. You mentioned about CD and I knowing how to “push all your buttons”???? Sbux has pushed all mine this past week! and before I forget, yes, that was a new package(ing) of Verona that I bought yesterday….for a total of $18.88 since it only took off my syrup. Sorry I didn’t take a pic of my receipt for you….but my phone!!!! is all messed up (the new one….. the one with the peppermint mocha in it might have done better)

I’m glad you have this forum where one can bring up this incidents….I’m glad I posted the incident. the one that started this conversation. (with just more bad luck this week)
My sm is on this with IT, he said. In the meantime, I copied my receipt and gave to him so HOPEFULLY when any one in this store rings up a # that deserves a free tall drink, they’ll automatically comp them. I don’t know. but I really do feel: shame on Sbux. They should be better than all this! (and my sm told me of other problems they’ve had with their POS in recent days….so, I will definitely be getting a receipt, always. For those of you with $$$ to blow, I guess it won’t matter. )

denise r November 26, 2011 at 1:51 pm

ps: @CD: apparently Melody doesn’t have these problems in Seattle. so, I guess it’s lucky that we can alert her to the rest of the country’s Sbux “issues”. and hopefully someone at SSC.

Melody November 26, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Denise – wow. Yours was the new packaing too! It IS good that we can uncover this problem! I am putting up a second (and much shorter) thread just to spotlight the issue. I think that partners would need to know where there is a register glitch! When we talked before, I didn’t get it, but now we know!

Melody November 26, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Denise – I am about to walk to a Starbucks store here in downtown and buy a pound in the new packaging to see what happens. And one thing is true: There are a few SSC partners who read this. I gather that there are a couple of Starbucks blogs and sites that are well-read by SSC partners. This (obviously) isn’t the biggest but one of three or four blogs that SSC partners look at, as far as I know. Some of this is me making an educated guess, but I do really think that at least a few SSC partners are really reading this site.

Melody November 26, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Denise – It IS the new packaging!! Just tested this problem. I wonder how long this has been going on?! Hasn’t the new packaging been out for almost 2 weeks? Eee gads, how many customers missed getting a free drink?

DadCooks November 26, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Here is my interpretation as to why the new packaging and SKU got to be part of the problem,

IIRC Starbucks is planning to put more of the Starbucks Store Only Coffees into other retail locations. Starbucks right hand (i.e., Store) does not know what its left hand (i.e., Retail) is doing and that is why the new SKUs did not get the flag that would allow the purchase to to trigger the free tall beverage; from examples problems described in this post that is why only the modifier discount was applied.

This is an indicator that Starbucks has too many departments that are not communicating with each other and no one is doing a real final Quality Control verification before software and product get into the field. It is not a good sign when a business uses its customers and in-the-trenches employees to do that final check not just for excellence, but the basic functionality.

Melody, thanks for doggedly following through on this issue.

Now when can we expect Starbucks to correct the root causes of this so it does not happen again?

Melody November 26, 2011 at 6:31 pm

@DadCooks – You’re good. +1

DadCooks November 26, 2011 at 6:47 pm

@Melody — thank you very much, you made my day :-)

I had the following comment too, but hit the submit button scrolling around checking what I had already written.

From my perspective Starbucks is relying too much on software at the POS to make up for Partner training and communication. This is really very dangerous for a company as their resource of experienced employees becomes less and less. The last thing a customer wants to hear is that the “computer” is at fault. Well it takes a human to write that computer program and if that programmer has no concept of how the process and interface works in real life, then you have garbage. An International Company cannot afford this lack of attention to detail.

I hope my addition does not take away my +1 ;-)

kara86ster November 26, 2011 at 7:01 pm

A good topic, Melody. I think we’ve this kind of promo (shortly) during the “Casi Cielo” as promotional coffee last year, but its only written on the shelf. We still don’t have cards at that time. But still I didn’t notice it, and the partners don’t know it too. When I come again & ask, they said only can get free tall COW, well, until I showed them the promo. Hope partners will get better info about free drinks with whole bean purchase. I think there’re still partners that don’t know about the free tall COW too… =)

denise r November 27, 2011 at 6:42 am

@DadC…..as usual your analysis makes perfect sense! @Melody: I really don’t mean this is a smart ass way BUT, your purchase with the new pckging in SEATTLE proves that (at least in this case) even Seattle is messed up.

I am really ….annoyed…. as Melody referenced, at how many people have NOT gotten their free tall ANY drink and never even knew it? for how long? I gave a copy of my receipt to my store in the hopes that they could ALL be aware of this and make sure that whenever anyone buys a # (apparently in the new pckging?) they at least get comped. I am sad to say that with alll the new hires recently, I’m not sure how concerned they are. I think usually they’re glad just to get it done…. whatever it is. They absolutely do NOT get the training that they need, or else the people being hired just don’t have the same mindset as previous (eons ago) yrs.

and, while we’re on this, being as ……. whatever I am at Sbux right now, I would like to once again point out, I brought this issue to the attention of Melody’s blog! so, (being very sad anyway) someone thank me! (or would we even be talking about this???) on Melody’s blog.

hayley November 27, 2011 at 8:11 am

Thank you!! :) Hopefully this experience, post, and the closed thread will shed some light on the consistency of knowledge to those stores or that Starbucks will fix their communication stream so that we’re all on the same page!!

purple1 November 27, 2011 at 9:05 am

Denise thanks for the info and your followup. I think it is lucky that SB has customers like you that keep people aware of errors or such that need to be corrected.

Cd November 27, 2011 at 9:17 am

Thank you Denise for raising this issue. And thank you ChrisW for unraveling the mystery. It’s unfortunate this came to light over a long holiday weekend. I’m sure SBUX will fix this as soon as they can but having it come to light on an extended weekend that many SSC employees travel on is unfortunate.

DadCooks, you are right that silos in big organizations lead to mistakes like this. But those can be rectified. The reality is Starbucks has the data and therefore knows who got charged for what should have been a free tall beverage, so they can proactively follow up with those customers and make this right.

Mistakes happen. That’s life. Following up and making it right – that’s what makes Starbucks Starbucks.

Melody November 27, 2011 at 9:17 am

Denise – Thanks for pointing out the register problem! Hopefully the SSC will move quickly on fixing it.

I wish some those people who write twitter replies to me would come post here – One partner in Ohio said that their store quickly discovered the problem, and that partners are just instructed to still give a free tall beverage. Makes me wonder if they contacted the SSC? I would say that most partners don’t know – as is what I experienced buying my pound of House Blend – Which I am drinking right now. I actually do like House as a change of pace now and then. :)

Melody November 27, 2011 at 9:20 am

I realize now it would have made more sense for me to open up comments on the new thread. I learn the hard way only.

@CD – The first thing they should do is make sure every store knows so that partners are instructed to give a free tall beverage while the registers are fixed. I wish Amazonv were in this thread – She knows a ton about registers. :)

purple1 November 27, 2011 at 9:25 am

There are too many new partners at my store and I think the training is somewhat rushed so I fear that this problem probably exists there. I also agree with DadCooks analysis of the situation in terms of the size of SB and the various departments. I also think as I said that districts do not speak with each other as often as they should.

Melody November 27, 2011 at 9:33 am

@DadCooks – By the way, you’re second comment is right on the money. When it comes to the rewards, since the registers do the work, Starbucks seems to think it doesn’t matter if this is a training focus for new partners. I see new partners learning diligently about how to mark drink cups, what are the drink recipes, but MSR training gets skipped. I’ve walked in on a lot of in-store training, from coffee tastings, and how to make a french press, to those fun looking dice that you roll to learn how to mark drink cups, but MSR training looks skipped. And you’re right, that’s just not good for the company.

DadCooks November 27, 2011 at 11:01 am

@Denise — I got so caught up in the passion of the problem you brought to light that I forgot to say thanks. Please excuse me.

I wonder, is the SSC even still directly connected to Starbucks home office hierarchy?

I am beginning to doubt it, just from some anecdotal stories from experienced Baristas and that also the DMs are not escalating concerns/problems. Just like, IMHO, the mistake Starbucks made when they job-shopped-out their customer service email and phone.

The number of experienced (more than 4-years) Baristas in my area has drastically decreased in the past year. All the Starbucks here are lucky if they have 3 experienced Baristas and my favorite is down to 2 experienced from 10 a year ago (normal store compliment is 12 employees, they have been operating at 7 for the last 2-months).

purple1 November 27, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Dad Cooks it seems that on any given shift the mix of experienced vs. new partners has changed around here as well. It seems it is harder and harder for SB to keep the experienced partners for whatever reason and some of it might not totally be caused by them. I wonder if they do exit interviews or have any other means to determine why partners are leaving.

Dave Wakeman November 27, 2011 at 8:39 pm

In light of seeing this post, I knew that I needed to get some fresh coffee for home and since I don’t drink a lot of milk, except usually on a Saturday or Sunday, I decided that I would buy whole bean coffee today so that I could get a latte of some sort, since I hadn’t drank any milk in a few weeks.

Unfortunately I ran into the problem discussed in the post. But it was much worse as the partner told me that I needed to have a gold card to get a free tall drip coffee and that since I was paying with my phone it wasn’t offered.

She did decide to take pity on me and let me have a cup of drip coffee. Despite the fact that the last time I checked, I had bought over 100 drinks since my gold status had been renewed….which I’m fairly certain makes me a gold card member, even if I pay with my phone.

Melody November 27, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Dave, that is painful to hear. It makes me so crazy when Starbucks misses their mark. And partners know an inadequate amount about the rewards. Please please complain to Customer Service – Or better yet, try to get the DM’s information and complain to him or her. What store were you at? Get as much info as possible. If I can help you get in contact with someone who can help you, I will. Did you see this post before or after going into the store? You could say, ‘it’s the packaging’ though I know lots of partners would look at you like you have two heads. I have found that a certain percentage of partners simply always believe that customers don’t know anything since they don’t work there – thankfully a small percentage – But it’s a horrible assumption to make for obvious reasons. Good luck! I hope you’ll follow up!

Cd November 27, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Melody, I don’t know if you’ve had the “pleasure” of dealing with Starbucks customer NON-service but it is horrendous. I got no resolution, and worse, did not receive the return call I was promised. It truly is some if not the worst customer service experience(s) I have ever had.

I’d suggest Dave go the local route Dealing with your issue at the store/DM level seems to be the only way to go. Howard and Starbucka really should be ashamed at what has been done with their outsourced customer service. Perhaps they should “customer voice” survey some of the callers.

Melody November 27, 2011 at 10:19 pm

@Cd – I haven’t had to contact customer service in a very long time. It really is true that 90% of my starbucks visits occur within a small circle of stores, and I know a number of DMs – I would ask for help if I needed – or at least I’d be able to find someone to turn to. I haven’t had any issue worth complaining about in a long long long time. Despite having said that, I totally realize that having outsourced cust service is a problem. Everyone knows that feeling of talking with someone and feeling like ‘this person doesn’t really understand what they’re saying; it’s just a person going through the motions.’ And since the customer service reps don’t come from ANY kind of store background, I can see that as ripe for problems. But since I’ve not really dealt with except maybe once eons ago, I can’t say much.

I recall I read on MSI one time about a guy who got his bday card after the expiration date on it – He stated he reported this to customer service, and they didn’t replace it, and basically sent him a ‘you’re outta luck letter.’ Hearing stories like that, which are so far removed from the cust service of the 1990s and early 2000s, makes me worry that the current state of cust service is sub-par. But again, I don’t have a personal history of dealing with cust service. – at least in recent couple of years.

CD – From reading Dave Wakeman’s twitter bio, he’s somewhere in NY – of course that’s a big state and I have no idea where these problems are happening.

Jess November 28, 2011 at 12:10 am

If a customer receives a drink post card after the expiration date (whether it’s a bday or sweet 15), I guarantee that it will not be hard to find a store who will accept it. I’ve used plenty of them out of date and have always accepted them. Those codes never change and it’s likely no one will notice. If they do, it’s a very simple thing to just say yes to, especially in the grand scheme of absolutely ridiculous and absurd things we say yes to every day (ahem, someone coming in this week with a white cup and asking for a refill…and us giving it to them).

As far as “experienced” baristas, I don’t think that it’s fair to only consider 4++ year partners experienced. When it comes down to it, it’s a fairly menial and low wage job at the barista and shift supervisor level and 4+ years is a very long time to stay. For the most part, you should be happy for the partners who leave because they’re done with school, moved away or finally found a career track job in their field in this economy. It’s a great long term job for a lot of people (especially given the benefits) and that’s fine but it’s not a long term plan for a lot of others. You don’t need a master’s degree to make a caramel macchiato. I’ve encountered too many partners with college and graduate degrees (there was a licensed attorney working at my old store!) who can’t find another job or can only find part time work and use it as a supplement. If/when the economy gets better, that will change and it’s a good thing (it’s already been happening quite a lot in my old store, for example, and yes regulars LOVE to complain about it). It’s no mystery to me why partners are leaving as better job opportunities open up and you know what? That’s ok. That barista with a master’s in education might make you a really great mocha but she’s going to do the world a lot more good teaching your kids to read. Give the high school kid a month or two and he’ll do a good job, too.

Sorry, off soapbox. Didn’t mean to write that much.

Jess November 28, 2011 at 12:19 am

Oh and not for nothing, Melody, but when you publish receipts you should black out the partner number on top as well as the card information on the bottom. It just seems considerate. On the receipt here, it’s the number that starts with 179 next to the register/drawer number. It’s just considerate, it’s not private information, per se, but it shouldn’t be this public, either.

Also, the 179 number tells me the partner who rang up the transaction is a super noob (we don’t have anyone newer than a 177, hired in September) and maybe can be excused for not knowing all the details of MSR.

purple1 November 28, 2011 at 5:47 am

I agree that often the local route to resolve a problem is the best way,however, depending on the issue some SM and DM do not care. They yes you to death.

Dave Wakeman November 28, 2011 at 5:59 am

Hi everyone:

Just to follow up, I have been in Washington DC for the last several months and the location that I had the problem at was the location on P Street NW between 14th and 15th, which in the months I have been here has been notoriously bad in regards to service, friendliness and all other aspects of the Starbucks experience.

As far as dealing with customer service, I emailed them last night and I actually had to email them one other time this week after it took me over 20 minutes to get my Clover drink. In the first instance, someone got back to me and said that they would get in touch with the store manager and the District Manager. But I don’t know if I am going to hear any resolution about the steps that they take to ensure that this stuff doesn’t happen again.

Melody November 28, 2011 at 7:00 am

@Jess Thanks for the tip. I am in a rush off to work at the moment, and have only time for one quick comment. You saw the long history that lead up to these threads: DeniseR had described problems getting her tall beverage. I started one thread, and then realized that while the issues in that thread are real, that there is a register glitch, and started a shorter thread about that.

So I was never saying that any of the Seattle partners did anything that wasn’t fabulous. Definitely not. And that partner with a 179 number is a really wonderful person, and I hope she stays for a long time. Absolutely no customer service issues – and I do think she knows the benefits. It was DeniseR’s comment conversation in the “Happy Thanksgiving Thread” about being told by partners you can get a free “coffee” that caused me to write the first article about this reward. The second article was caused by the comments in the first one about the registers not working.

Have a great day!

Melody November 28, 2011 at 7:04 am

And I still do think that there may be tons of partners who are wonderful in every single way, but somehow, across the US, being knowledgeable about MSR perks is a problem – even for partners who really deliver in every single other way, yet weak on MSR knowledge and this specific perk. With 2 million gold members, and even more registered card holders, and one in four transactions now w/ a registered card, it is an area that Starbucks really needs to improve upon – It’s relevant now to very a high percentage of the customers walking in the door.

Jess November 28, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Sorry Mel, none of my late night diatribe was aimed at you at all, I promise. There were a few commenters who seemed to not know why the long term partners were leaving and what Starbucks can do to stop it. And I think that unless they’re leaving for other similar retail or food service jobs, there isn’t much that can or should be done.

purple1 November 28, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Jess I agree if a long term partner wants to leave there is perhaps nothing that SB can do to keep them, however, I do feel that for the long term growth of SB and for the morale of partners it is important that SB look into why there is an exodus of partners if there is a major exodus in any particular district.

Ken duffield December 8, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Ok here is my issue. I spend $1200 per year on Starbucks coffee When I go to the Starbucks to purchase my coffee beans they usually ask me if I want my complimentary cup of coffee, which is nice of them to do. Sometimes they do not make the offer, if I am feeling like coffee I will ask them for a free cup, sometimes I am refused and other times I get a cup with no problem. The personnel at the store has told me I can have a free cup if I bring the bag back,others have told me to bring my receipt back. Now there is a new twist, the mgr at the valley view store in Roanoke, whose name is Gab and is a very rude person, told me I have to bring in the bag with a certain code on the side. I am starting to get very annoyed with all this discrebency in the stores over a free cup of coffee. I really don’t care if I get a free cup, I just enjoy the flavor of Starbucks coffee, BUT! This is a horrible way to treat customers, I find it humiliating when I come into the store with my empty bag and someone tells I cannot have a free cup. Well this morning takes the cake, Gab refuses to give me a cup, I told him I wanted my cup of coffee or lose me as a customer, he said I could not have the cup of coffee, I assume u do not want me as a customer. I went to another store this morning, where I usually go and they gave me a cup, cheerfully I might add. Kudos to Chris for beeping so nice, that is all Gab had to do. To make a long story short I got my coffee from Chris. I will continue to buy Starbucks coffe, but I sure wish you would get this issue straightened out, also I think Gab owes me an apology and a cup of coffee. Maybe he should call m or e mail me and invite me to his store for a cup of coffee and an apology. Ken Duffield

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: