Tag Archives: rant

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


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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Dazed and Confused – a movie as well as a state of mind

There is a movie that I have a love/hate relationship with. Dazed & Confused is set in small town Texas in 1976 and recounts a single day – the end of school when the Seniors get to “haze” the incoming Juniors. It is set in a world where kids know everything and adults are morons, dead set on disrupting the kids’ fun. So far so bad, yet the abiding theme of this piece is that anyone who is anyone is “cool” – i.e. they smoke pot and get wasted. None of which should be a shock, given that the clue is in the title. OK, from here I get to paint myself as the ultimate stuck-up square, a mantle I can easily live with. I’ll also live with the hypocrisy of happily getting pissed whilst clinging dearly to the idea that mari-ju-wana is the serum which will ultimately destroy civilisation. I exaggerate of course, but the bottom line of what I’m saying is potheads are – in my humble opinion – twats. So, back to the story: Here we’re talking about a group of 16 year olds in 1976 (i.e. pretty much the same age as my elder brother). The narrative tells of seniors openly hunting freshmen around the town in order to beat them as part of this hazing ritual. This is accepted and condoned by all, to the point that the seniors manufacture the paddles to administer the beatings in “shop class” (along with bongs!) with the teachers’ tacit approval. But here’s the thing – as much as I hate what these kids all do and stand for, absolute credit to the writers in that the characters are all sympathetic, even likeable for the most part. That’s what makes the film enjoyable – moral prejudices aside. Nevertheless, the kids are so far removed from the sort of people I remember from school, albeit maybe five years or so after this movie is set, and even further from those of the 1970’s whom most Brits experienced (and 1980’ & 1990’s for that matter). What astonishes me about this is that within the reviews on IMDB there are countless Americans lining up to tell us how accurate a portrayal of 1970’s High School life this movie is, particularly – but not exclusively – to Texas. If this is so (and I say this with a great deal of love and respect for the United States of America), given the USA’s role as the global superpower, it goes a long way to explaining what a fucked up world it is we all now inhabit. As I type this, clicking on the User Reviews tab of IMDB for Dazed and Confused singles out a piece by a guy called Mike Wells as the lead item. It’s a well written article by a clearly well educated guy, yet the point he makes is that he lived the life portrayed in D&C, and was a complete stoner in his teens. If everyone in the fictional world of the movie turned out as well as Mike seems to have done (I still don’t subscribe to his politics though), then – hey – maybe wacky-baccy ain’t all that bad? I’m just not sure that’s the entire truth of the matter though. What really made me want to write this diatribe, however, is one the supporting characters – Julie Simms. The role is pretty much incidental in that she “falls” for one of the male protagonists. I don’t intend to be sexist (the film pretty much is, and I know I almost certainly am being too) but she is one of several “eye candy” characters. The part is plated by Catherine Averill Morris. This is what IMDB says about this actor:-

Catherine Avril Morris fell into her short-lived movie career completely by accident. She worked on the documentary film ‘An Ordinary Rape’ (dir. Isabelle Coulet) in 1991, casting the high school discussion panel as well as speaking on it. In 1992 she worked for six months as the Assistant Casting Director for ‘Dazed and Confused’ and then landed a supporting role in the film. She went on to act in various friends’ short films while she herself studied Creative Writing. She is now a writer of screenplays, political articles, fiction and romance novels

“Her short-lived movie career” –  Damned by faint praise, indeed.

Catherine Avrill Morris - from Dazed and Confused

Catherine Avrill Morris – from Dazed and Confused

I should confess, perhaps perpetuating the hypocrisy, that alcohol is involved here. Having re-watched the film on a Saturday evening otherwise bereft of entertainment, and been intrigued by the “short-lived movie career” remark above, I Googled Ms. Morris. What I learnt was both heart-breaking and inspiring. I shall paraphrase here as I can’t come close to the account of events which are available on line, written by Ms. Morris herself, but in a nutshell, she suffered the terrible loss of her first child being stillborn. Google is both a blessing and a curse, and I’m not sure which is the case here as – admittedly almost in ‘stalker mode’ – I came across a blog site Catherine wrote about that terrible experience. Powerful stuff. Today, again so Google eagerly informs me, Mrs. Morris is a teacher of creative writing in Austin, Texas. Not only that but she has a blog – almost an occupational necessity for a creative writer? That, of course, is really none of my business. After all, I’m just someone who watched a DVD of a movie made in 1993 and was struck by the performance of a young lady, ‘preserved in celluloid’. However, the “wonders” of the digital world now allow me to track her down to her personal blog site, which is both amazing and slightly disturbing. As creepy as it sounds, everything considered, on being presented with the opportunity I felt compelled to say “Hi”, and duly left a message, explaining myself — not withstanding the fact that my original impetus may have had slightly murky origins . So it is I am both delighted and slightly ashamed to receive a near-instant and very kind acknowledgement of my message. I have little experience (*) of interactions with celebs (sorry, Catherine, you were in a movie, even if nearly 20 years ago, so for the purposes of this tale you remain a celeb!) so I’m touched just to get a reply. That’s it now though, stalking over. 🙂 (* – ask me about my Steve Davis, the snooker player, story one day)

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