I’m excited to tell you how your unique marketing program has made us expand our beverage horizons. For the past four years from Canada to Texas, my husband and I had bellied up to the bar at Starbucks—quite a feat because neither of us are coffee drinkers.
It was a wet and cold Wednesday last year when I got this wild hair and decided to order a shot of peppermint in my usual hot chocolate. So, imagine my surprise, when I discovered I was privileged to pay even more for it than usual. The main hoodwinking came from the “Holiday Drink List.” In this interesting corporate program, humble drinks, which can be ordered 11 months out of the year, at the regular price, are suddenly goosed-up with mysterious holiday fees.
In other words, Starbucks charges more for beverages (including lattes and mochas) with peppermint during the Christmas season. Throughout the year I usually order a flavored syrup to spice up my drink, but the wide-eyed clerk at the register explained she couldn’t ring it up the usual way. The way it’s done the other 11 months of the year: As a hot chocolate with an additive. She was under orders to push the very special HOLIDAY DRINK button on the till.
Well, no problem. Sometimes folks miss a day of training. I paid for the drink and asked to speak with the manager, who, with great pride—like a cat laying a mouse on the corporate doorstep—told me it was company policy.
Such anti-customer thinking couldn’t possibly be correct, could it? Stockholders wouldn’t want this negative marketing:
Headline: Starbucks Sticks it To Customers For the Holidays. No special ingredients. Nothing different except a few sprinkles on top—but customers get to pay more. Happy Holidays!
No, sir. How’s about we call the district manager and get this straightened out?
At this point Ms. Manager offered to “re-ring” my drink, with the enthusiasm of someone about to undertake filling out their tax return, adding, “We’re not supposed to do it like this.”
I declined her offer to re-calculate my drink and called the District Manager while I was still in the store. He was sympathetic. But confirmed the company policy.
Now let me get this straight? Doesn’t anyone at corporate talk to each other? What genius set up a pricing structure that cancels the heavy marketing Starbucks does to push the registered, pre-loaded cards? You know the ones…the special cards that give your most loyal, and frequent customers perks—like free-syrups!
Due to this seasonal pricing rookery…
you need to notify your accounting department, who no doubt has been scratching their heads, wondering where my $5-$10 weekly contribution has gone. But your mission statement has inspired us to try other beverages—“one cup, one person, one neighborhood at a time.” Like the wonderful Coffee Rush where friendly barista, Chantelle, does amazing art with whipped cream.
Thanks for the nudge to rediscover other places.
Happiest of Holidays-(no seasonal upcharge included)