Kool Derby

While attending a professional development session in Dallas, I decided to buy a Grande Pike Place at a shop that sold Starbucks coffee. This was not an official Starbucks store, but the signage indicated I could find the popular beverage there.

The shop was about a block from my hotel room, so I made the walk around 6:30 a.m. When I arrived, I noticed the lights out and a small sign stating working hours began at 7:30 a.m. The opening time is unusual because most Starbucks are off-and-running around 5 a.m. in San Antonio, but this shop had its own hours. I suppose this is a supply-and-demand concept that was covered in one of my Economics and Marketing courses while attending undergraduate school at St. Mary’s University. I need to take better notes!

7:30 a.m. Arrives

I went back to my room to review emails. Around 7:25, I walked back to the coffee shop to purchase my hot drink. I even have the Starbucks app on my iPhone, so making purchases is quite easy. However, I know that most of these independent shops do not accept the Starbucks card or app, so I brought 10 bucks with me.

At exactly 7:30 a.m., I was in line and prepared to order my Starbucks coffee. There were two men leaning against the counter, and the employee was making lattes for them. It turns out she was preparing the beverages for other employees, and they walked away without paying.

I approached the counter, and conversation went something like this:

ME: Can I get a Grande Pike Place?


IDA: We’re still closed because the computer is not working.


ME: Right … but I noticed those two men were served, and it is 7:30 a.m.


IDA: Right … but they work here. For me to sell you the coffee, someone has to log me into the register. The code I put in is not allowing access. You’ll have to wait about another 15 minutes. There is another coffee place about two blocks down the street.


ME: I really don’t feel like walking to another location. I guess I will wait until the register is open.

About 10 minutes later, a manager-type person walked up, swiped a card, and entered a code. The register was unlocked, and I paid $2.34 for my Grande Pike Place.

The problem with this scenario is that a customer was denied coffee, but employees were allowed to walk away with free beverages. As a business owner for many years, I would take full accountability for poor training. You cannot allow your employees to handle situations in this way. If the customer is denied coffee, so are the employees. When you play favorites, you lose the trust of your customers.

I’ve shared this incident with a couple colleagues, and one told me that I was overreacting, and that I “should let it go.” The more I think about it, the more it bothers me. I understand that the issue was resolved in 10 minutes, but this has nothing to do with expediency. What concerns me most is the underlying current. Based on this experience, I’m certain this coffee shop has other notable customer service issues that may alienate customers.

Part of me is overreacting, and part of me is right. Go figure!