The Green Lady Has Been Distracted

Ahhhh, Pike’s Place.  Tall, with a little ice, mmm, just right.  Just about every time.

Isn’t that what Starbucks is selling?  Consistent product and service no matter where you are and when.  I have been to a lot of Starbucks across the nation and through just about every government agency.  Granted, the State Department only “proudly brews” Starbucks products..sham.

Anyway,  I have been alarmed by a recent trend in declining service.   This weekend I pulled into one of my regular stops. Garbage in the parking lot, “that’s odd,” I thought.  No problem, the bubbly girl at the register reminded me where I was.  When she turned around to pour my coffee though, 50 cent shots of espresso began accumulating on my total, seemingly by themselves.  I watched the total go from $1.78 to over $6.

Cool marketing technique I thought, because now I am interested in adding a shot.  The girl noticed but was not surprised.  “Sorry about that,” she giggled.

“No problem.” I said, “Is the register broken?”

“Nope! (giggle, giggle) Its the flies.”

Wow.  What just happened?  Flies ran me up for 9 shots added to my already strong coffee?  “Disgusting,” I said trying not to be mean.

She went on to explain how they make a big effort when the customers arent around to kill and disperse the espresso adding flies.  I didnt know what to say except, “Well, good luck!”

I grabbed my coffee and left in a hurry.

Its happened a couple of times recently, maybe the garbage was over flowing in Virginia or the ladies in North Carolina were texting instead of serving.  Its alarming because the Starbucks brand is strong, very strong and each interaction like this is another chink in the armor times thousands of customers.

Does Starbucks compete?  Kind of.  They compete against your home coffee, they compete against 7-11 or the gas station, fast-food joints have joined in and they compete against your local brewer.

But take it from me, when I don’t know the area, I know Starbucks and that keeps me coming back even in the airport or at Target.  Like McDonald’s, they strive for predictability but unlike McDonald’s there is no Burger King like alternative.

McDonald’s now sells their coffee for $1.  “Would you like flies with that?”

“Two please.”

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