Battling Starbucks

For someone who can’t drink caffeine I’m an exceptional Starbucks fan.  Caffeinated coffee gives me the jitters and slight nausea.  Nevertheless, I’ve loved Starbucks ever since Scott bought me an iced mocha early in our marriage.

When not on sabbatical as I am now, I meet students, faculty and fellow InterVarsity staff in Starbucks.  My writing group met at Starbucks every Wednesday for years.  I developed an addiction to decaf peppermint mochas a decade ago, and as pre-diabetes has developed, have morphed to a decaf skinny soy peppermint mocha with 3 pumps of peppermint after Christmas (they only have sugar free peppermint syrup for the holiday season).

I even paid $25 years ago for that special Starbucks card that got me a free drink every 10.  They changed the program, made me a Gold Card member, and I didn’t even grumble much about the 12 drinks/1 free policy change.  I hit the 30 drinks/year Gold Card status by early spring each year.

This spring, by April 30th, my birthday, I had 3 free drinks—2 earned and a birthday one.  I planned it all out—a birthday mocha, another one on May 15th and another one on May 30th when my birthday drink expired.  3 venti skinny soy peppermint mochas with 3 pumps of peppermint over one month—fancy drink heaven.

It all went awry when the barista used my free birthday drink on May 15th rather than the free drink that expired that day.  In one fell peppermint swoop I lost both my free drinks with none to look forward to for the rest of the month.

So I wrote Starbucks explaining what had gone wrong.

Starbucks wrote back politely that they were sorry I felt like I lost my drink but I was mistaken.

I wrote back telling them the information again.

They wrote back again saying they were sorry I felt frustrated, but I was wrong.

Scott said, “Please don’t tell me that you’re wasting your sabbatical fighting Starbucks for your free drink.”

I wrote them again.

They said they were sorry I felt that way.

Don’t they know that saying I’m sorry you feel that way, as my sister pointed out to me once after I said it, ISN’T AN APOLOGY!!!

I vented at dinner.

Scott:  Can I just give you $5 so I don’t have to hear about it again?

Me:  No!  It’s the justice of the matter!  I don’t want you or even you (looking at Mama who’s in town for Ling’s graduation) giving me money to cover Starbuck’s butt.  They owe me a free drink!

Scott (sensing boycott fever):  Well I don’t think they care about losing you as a customer, someone who buys a tea so she can use wifi for 6 hours on a regular basis.

Mama:  Or buys a venti, drinks half of it and puts it in the refrigerator for the next week.

A Kid:  Or buys a venti frappucino for our special treat and asks for 3 tall glasses and splits it between us.

To Starbucks credit, they never refused that request and even put whipped cream on all 3 drinks.

The next day I wrote one last email to Starbucks, citing my long history of patronage and restating my case.  If nothing else they should just to make a committed customer happy.

The next day, they wrote back and said as a courtesy, they were giving me a free drink, expiring July 11th.

As I sit in Starbucks, iced decaf coffee with Splenda and a lot of cinnamon in hand, using their wifi to post this blog, all I can say is:

Thanks Starbucks.

I needed the justice of my free drink.

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  • Jessie

    Wow, I thought our family was the only one to split the 1 drink we order for the kids. We actually just tell them to split it for us in 3 cups, and they all get their own whipped cream!

    • mactuan

      In the days when the kids were really little, they sure didn’t need a tall and this made a frappucino an affordable treat!


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