Category Archives: Starbucks

All I want for Christmas

… is a new Starbucks in Derby!

Derby's one and only Starbucks - on a good day

Email to Starbucks Customer Services – copied for the Blog in the spirit of venting/ranting

Hi,

I’m writing this from Derby’s one and only, solitary, unique, isolated, orphaned, stand-alone and — above all — over-capacity ‘real’ Starbucks.

Don’t get me wrong, Lara and her team do a great job, but they simply don’t have the tools (i.e. the right sized store) to cope with the demand for large periods of time. The recent refit has helped, but only a little. As I type, the queue is out the door and this is not peculiar to the Christmas period. How many potential customers see that and are immediately put off. It isn’t as though there aren’t enough Costa’s in close proximity for them to turn to instead.

Similarly, the ‘licensed’ Starbucks at Pride Park has reinvented itself in the last twelve months. It has gone from a potential gold mine spoiled by indifferent staff to a real treasure of a place – the staff (the same people!) are now welcoming and evidently proud of the brand. There is nothing to be critical of in respect of Pride Park – except the perennial issue of licensee branches not being able to accept Starbucks Card and its Rewards.

Returning to the issues with the Westfield Centre Starbucks. I realise that much of the problem is right there — Westfield. They are, I guess, for that reason that there is no BT Openzone free WiFi? This is something of a deal breaker for me, combined with being completely unable to get comfortable and work, sitting out in the mall as I am. I also get that, given the huge amount of footfall here, not making customers comfortable, and so having them settle for an extended period, is likely deliberate? This is an awful long way from “The Third Place” concept that Starbucks used to promote.

I have said it before, and I will continue to wish for it, but can we PLEASE have East Street back!? It is still vacant and itself will benefit from the significant upturn of pedestrian traffic there now the bus station has reopened. In its glory days (i.e. right up to the moment it suddenly closed) it was everything I would expect of a Starbucks, having sampled the brand around the world. It was the epitome of the Third Place.

Thank you.

 

Update 12DEC2012…

Well, I got a reply:-

Thank you for contacting Starbucks.

I apologise for your recent experiences with your local stores in the area. We recently announced our intent to create 5,000 new jobs in the UK over the next five years. To support our jobs creation plan, our intention is to build 200 new drive-thrus across the country over the next five years.

I appreciate your request for a Starbucks store in your area and have shared it with our Store Development Team for their consideration.

Thank you for taking the time to contact us and we look forward to welcoming you back to your local store soon.

Is it just me, or have they completely missed the point? I really wasn’t looking for an apology, but that is clearly the default position these days.

The original text of the email was in different fonts, confirming the obvious that the reply was simply two stock answers pasted into the message.

Oh well.

 

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My Kind of Station [Updated]

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Sheffield station has to be one of the better places to have to wait for a train. Not only is it home to the Sheffied Tap – a fabulous real ale pub in the Midland Railway opulence of the former refreshment room – but there is now a Starbucks kiosk on the platform. Good job there’s not one on Derby station or I may be tempted to take up train spotting. (Again!)

[Update]

Um. Having now used the Starbucks kiosk pictured above, I’m less enthused. I’d enjoyed a pint of Dark Star Milk Chocolate Stout and another of Partridge Best Bitter (no, never heard of it, either) in the Sheffield Tap. So I felt obliged to wash the beer down with a Pike Place as the 1654 Edinburgh – Plymouth Cross Country rolled in.

The telltale “we don’t take Starbucks cards here” notice (because they are a licencee, not a real Starbucks) was a bit of a warning. So I wasn’t overly surprised when the Barista told me the “filter coffee was off” and “would I like an Americano instead”. Normal practice in a real Starbucks in such cases is to charge the same as a drip coffee, but given its licencee status, I wasn’t at all surprised when I was charged for an Americano. So, it’s £2.10 rather than £1.70, but it still bugs me no end when it happens.

The licencee Starbucks at Pride Park have tried it on a few times and I’ve always challenged it, with the result that the last couple of times they’ve “run out” of fresh coffee, they’ve done the right thing. This time, two pints of fine ale to the better, I was sufficiently chilled and decided to live with it. Still think it amounts to sharp practice though.

They Giveth, and They Taketh Away

Starbucks Rewards animation

Frame from the Starbucks Rewards animation

Earlier this month, coinciding with the end of “The Holidays”, the good people at Starbucks completely revamped their Starbucks Card Rewards. For some time now, in return for paying with a Starbucks Card — and so presumably speeding up the process as well as giving them money up-front —  you were “rewarded”. These rewards took the form of things like a free extra shot, free syrups, or soy milk with the extra charge waived. Also, for people like me who drink freshly brewed coffee rather than espresso based drinks, the reward was a rather generous 50p discount.

The new system is a true loyalty programme in that for each transaction (not each drink you buy, each transaction) you earn a “star”. Get 15 stars and you are rewarded with a complimentary tall beverage.

With the new system, existing cardholders such as myself have been automatically given “Gold” status in the new rewards scheme. Mere mortals who get a Starbucks card from now on will have to use it 50 times to get Gold (as I will in a year to keep Gold). The perk of having Gold is that you are given extra rewards, such as  a free extra shot, free syrups, or soy milk with the extra charge waived. Sound familiar?

Except that anyone who drinks good old fashioned black coffee gets rock all.

So by paying £7.50 more than I used to, I get a “free” drink worth £1.10. Wow, thanks Starbucks. That’s loyalty for ya.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that the 50p discount was not only very generous, but also had to be unsustainable. I just think there is a middle ground in truly rewarding repeat customers. Even at McDonalds  it only takes SIX coffees for a freebie (Ssssh! Don’t tell anyone I drink McDonald’s coffee!).

So that’s the taking away. What Starbucks have given is a refreshed iPhone App, the killer feature being able to pay with the phone… the future has arrived.

By signing in to the App, all the Starbucks cards I’ve ever registered (complete with the not-quite-paltry sums I’ve allowed to lie dormant on some of them) are available to use at the cash register, despite the fact the cards themselves are completely lost somewhere at home**. Tapping “Touch to Pay” brings up a barcode representation of the card which you wave under the  scanner and you’re good to go.

Actually, the first time I used it, the Barista had to take the phone off me and wave it several times under the scanner before it worked, but I put that down to teething trouble. That said, it didn’t seem to have been the first time this particular Barista had accepted payment this way as she was totally unfazed by it. A colleague, however was, as they asked me what App was needed to do it. On hearing my reply a third Barista was amazed; “You mean there’s a Starbucks App? That’s great“. Maybe a bit of internal communication needed Starbucks?

So that’s the Good and the Bad. I’ve emailed Starbucks to moan, er, observe, about the Bad (with my suggestion to make it better), and as far as the Good is concerned, well, they get this blog post!

 

 

** – And by completely lost somewhere at home, I of course mean neatly preserved in my extensive collection of Starbucks cards from around the world!

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