Dear Starbucks Peppermint Barons

Dear Starbucks,

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)

Advertisements

About Barb

I escaped from a hardscrabble farm in Oklahoma. I'm not sure why people think I have an accent. I miss the sunshine, but not the fried foods.
This entry was posted in Choices, Humor, Satire, Smiles and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

52 Responses to Dear Starbucks Peppermint Barons

  1. Pingback: Maybe I Remember Pong. Who’s Asking? | Before Morning Breaks

  2. Angela Young says:

    I have never been to Starbucks or had a Starbucks coffee. If I drink coffee, I get a McDonalds one, and I am perfectly happy. I appreciate you letting consumers know about this, however. I am personally so tired of the little hidden gouges almost all places are giving us – making things smaller, shorter, less dense, adding hidden fees…. They think we are blind, and it makes me mad. I wish everyone would stand up to them, so they wouldn’t get away with it. I have been trying to complain at fast food places…. I pay for good (questionable, I know:) fresh, hot food. What I get is often not even close. We should get what we pay for, right? hmmmmmmm Ok, rant over:)

    Like

  3. Starbucks in general is expensive. Why people would pay almost 4 dollars for a latte or flavored expresso is beyond me. 2 big cups is equivalent of buying a 1 pack coffee that will last you a month. In my case , 2 weeks. Usually if I’m too sleepy and need a caffeine boost , i just buy the regular brew which too is expensive but not that much different that Mcdonald’s or Dunkin dougnut. What I usually do since I love peppermint mocha, I buy a coffee mate peppermint mocha add that with regular home made brewed coffee then top with whipped cream. Same festive flavor. A very enjoyable post. Thank you. Happy holidays.

    Like

  4. yen says:

    🙂 Here in the Philippines, the Christmas drinks are indeed more expensive than the regular ones. I don’t know if you guys have this promo there but Starbucks has a Christmas planner promo where customers need to fill up their card with stickers to redeem their planner. Before you can fill it up, you need to buy at least 6 – 8 Christmas drinks.:) One cup of peppermint mocha here costs from 145-165 pesos. 🙂 It’s almost half a day’s worth of wages here in the Philippines.:)

    Like

    • Barb says:

      AAAAAAAhhhrgh!!! But here’s the thing….as long as people keep bellying up to the bar and paying these kinds of prices….why would Starbucks change?
      Thanks for reporting what’s happening in your part of the world. We need a way to compare notes and know what the global peppermint situation is.
      We don’t have the sticker cards (that I’ve heard of)….yet. Thanks,Yen for the update.

      Like

  5. digipicsphotography says:

    Drinking my plain ol’ Maxwell House right now. ummm ummm! Good! 😀

    Like

  6. Damn, girlfriend. Good for you. Fortunately, I live in a Starbucks-free small town where all the coffee joints are locally owned by neighbors who would never rip off one of their own. But when I visit San Francisco over the holidays, you can bet the farm I won’t be visiting any Starbucks. Thanks for the heads up.

    Like

    • Barb says:

      Ahhh…small town life. Where they know what you want to drink even before you do. Keep them guessing…order a triple shot of peppermint. Probably you can even get a shot of Bailey’s in your town.

      Like

  7. digipicsphotography says:

    I hate Starbucks! Their coffee is terrible! Give me plain ol’ Maxwell House any day. If I want peppermint in it, I’ll buy a candy cane. 😀

    Like

  8. jamieahughes says:

    I hate stuff like this. I used to have Starbucks once or twice a week in college, but I’m tired of paying $5 for a cup of coffee and have since switched to Dunkin Donuts, which is cheaper and a lot better. Seriously. Great coffee there…and donuts. As the name cleverly suggests, I suppose.

    They’re getting an overinflated sense of themselves, and that’ll hurt them in the end. Thanks for posting about this with both humor and style!

    Like

    • Barb says:

      And Dunkin’ Donuts have those itty bitty doughnuts. Whenever I ask at a grocery store bakery they tell me “We don’t have donut holes any more.”
      Gad. What do they do with the holes? i SHUDDER to think. Thanks for dropping by.

      Like

  9. Carole says:

    Hi Barb, thanks for visiting, nice to meet another cranky old dame, we have to stick together.
    PS I’m a tea drinker from Oz as well and it really annoys me that we are treated with such contempt when they leave the bag in the cup while coffee drinkers get a whole Broadway production (and art) and we get a flaccid teabag that looks like something the cat sicked up.
    Carole

    Like

    • Barb says:

      Surely in Oz you have a shoppe which serves loose leaf tea? Of course that looks like a bush used your cup for a toilet…which is probably the reason they invented reading tea leaves as a distraction from the goop in the cup.

      Like

  10. totsymae1011 says:

    Oh, forget them. They’ve always been overpriced and the people who go there are wanna-bees. They sit leisurely with laptops, pretending to be entrepreneurs who can work anywhere but actually play on the internet for 4 hours. You don’t wanna keep that kinda company.

    Like

  11. souldipper says:

    I feel so much better in a world where people speak up about this type of nonsense. Thanks, Barb.

    Like

  12. momaescriva says:

    Right on, Detective Barb! Usually I don’t any fancy dancy drinks at Starbucks only coffee and an occasional hot chocolate. So, when they see me coming, they know I’m not the big time drink buyer. I think frequenting the smaller places would be the thing to do, sort of like going on a scavenger hot drink game.

    Like

    • Barb says:

      You’re right Moma. My car was trained to stop at Starbucks like a kid braking for the candy aisle in the grocery store. But with minimal effort I’ve found lots of fun, quirky, mom & pops coffee shops and met some wildly interesting people. Here’s a mocha toast to “Exploring!!”

      Like

  13. winsomebella says:

    Waiting breathlessly for someone to post a copycat recipe. Till then, I may succumb to the marketing gods only because the peppermint latte is so good. No willpower.

    Like

  14. curm says:

    Boy! Now we know what gets you riled up. They really hit close to home. I quit drinking coffee a while back. Quitting almost killed me. If you want to know what life without coffee is like, sit at your desk and stare at your screen. After the first five hours you will get the Idea. I bought my own not too expensive cappuccino machine and found out with the right coffee and syrups, there was not too much I couldn’t do that Starbucks did. For me, it paid for itself in the first week.

    Like

    • Barb says:

      Okay…everybody…. we’re all going over to Curm’s for our party, but we need to hurry. He’s worn out the spitter in his fancy pants machine and he’s only had it a five weeks. Bring beer in case his espresso is finicky. (It goes better with his super-sonic secret chili recipe.)

      (You’re right Curm. Homemade is the way to go)

      Like

  15. Margie says:

    While we have Starbucks here in Canada, Tim Horton’s is the place for coffee and donuts. I’m not a coffee drinker, but a Timmies Iced Capp is a drink I love! But if you make it an Iced Capp Supreme, expect to pay more for the privilege of some flavorful whipped calories!

    Like

  16. katecrimmins says:

    Awwww! I reply as I sit here with my Starbucks mocha latte! Actually there is something addictive about it. I crave it when I don’t get it and am already fearing Christmas as they as they are closed. Micky D’s is too sweet and they don’t make decaf! Of course, if I took a shot of peppermint, I would be mifffed too. Fun post. I love ballsy women!

    Like

  17. Geez Barb, Scrooge is alive and well and living at corporate Starbucks. Who knew? You could probably fix it at home for under a $1. I’m sensing a recipe for homestyle will be shortly following. Merry Christmas.

    Like

  18. Julie says:

    Did you have to pick on peppermint hot chocolate? Couldn’t you have gone after your local butcher who’s hiking up the price of liver? Oh well, there’s always peppermint hot chocolate at Mickey D’s!
    BTW, I love your snow!

    Like

    • Barb says:

      Julie, who would hike up the price of liver? In my family, the butcher would have to pay me to take it off his hands. Blah! It’s been years since I had liver and I can still taste it. Excuse me…I need to get to Micky D’s and try their peppermint hot chocolate to get this taste out of my mouth.
      The snow if free…no holiday upcharge by WordPress. Thank you very much.

      Like

  19. A cup of tea for $2? I wish. Tea here (made with tea bags is $3.50 in the cheap places. And it goes up to $5 or more if a place actually uses real tea. Guess who doesn’t go out for a cuppa often?

    Like

    • Barb says:

      Hokey smokes!! Oz is a huge continent. Don’t they grow their own tea leaves? How much does a whole box of tea cost? Do you keep tea bags in a lock box along with your will and gold coins?

      Like

  20. Beth says:

    Actually Chantelle makes the art with foam, not whipped cream. It’s even harder. I tried it, and even though I am an artist, it was darn hard.
    Coffee art @ Coffee Rush. Downtown Oregon City.

    Like

  21. Roxie Matthews says:

    I am so impressed by you! I would have just groused and bitched and let it go. You talked to managers and even district managers. You are awesome sauce! And Starbucks can bite ME, too! Let’s support the teashops!

    Like

  22. Lisa Nowak says:

    They must be taking lessons from Amazon.

    Like

    • Barb says:

      Well, it’s most surprising because Starbucks just posted large profits from the last quarter. And I know coffee beans have gone up, but this is hot chocolate. I don’t know why Amazon is sticking it to indie authors and squeezing out competition.

      Like

    • Beth says:

      Yeah. I have now officially bought my LAST item from Amazon. Too bad I bought it two days ago, before I read the article.

      Like

  23. I’ve never been in a Starbucks before, and after reading this, I’ll make sure I never am. What a bunch of crooks! (and fools) As a tea drinker, my pet peeve is how one can get complimentary coffee with meals in many restaurants, but have to PAY for a cup of tea! Almost two bucks? Ridiculous. I keep a stash of bags in my purse … So far, hot water’s still free.

    Like

  24. magsx2 says:

    Hi,
    it is surprising how often this happens, the price is dearer for the same thing in the holidays, it really should not be allowed. Good on you for trying to change this ridiculous idea.

    I love the art in the coffee cup that is brilliant. 🙂

    Like

  25. If you cannot take advantage of those in the festive spirit, what is the point of being in business, eh? *Shakes head* No wonder I drink coffee at home.
    Red.

    Like

    • Barb says:

      Oh, I’m tossing grains of sand at Goliath. Most folks don’t even notice the up charge, but you’d think it would be like turkeys for Thanksgiving. Everyone puts them on sale.

      Like

  26. Good for you trying your best to right the wrong! That is ridiculous. Oh well, that sweet barista at the local coffee shop with the quick trigger finger who creates adorable whipped cream art rocks, and probably makes a better hot chocolate anyway. Margie

    Like

  27. Oh no! No way, no how! Thank you for bringing this to our attention before we stuff our stockings with those holiday cards.

    Like

    • Barb says:

      Yes, give them the Barb Blog Gift Card. It costs nothing to tune in to the craziness here. Or how about the Georgette Blog Gift Card…which is totally worth it because it has saved countless marriages with its secret “Turns-Out-Perfect” gravy recipe. I’ll take 10 of your cards.

      Like

Tell Me All About It.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s