My Starbucks Experience

My friend (who also happens to be my co-worker), Angela, was really craving some Starbucks last Friday, but she had a meeting she had to prepare for. I told her that was unfortunate. She bribed me to go get her some coffee by offering to pay for mine, too. That’s what I’m talking about. I didn’t eat breakfast that morning because our milk had expired and all I had was cereal, so I told her I was going to get the Breakfast Pairing (a tall latte and my choice of one of three pastries). She complained, “That’s like $4.00!” Not a problem. I’ll pay the $0.70 difference. Excited about my meal, I went to the closest Starbucks with a drive-thru and this is what happened next…

Starbucks Barista (SB): Welcome to Starbucks! Would you like to try a Caramel Frappuccino today?
Me: No, but thank you for asking. I’d actually like to try two other drinks this morning.
SB: What can I start you off with?
Me: For the first drink, may I have a tall soy toffee nut latte?
SB: You bet! And for your other drink?
Me: For the second drink, I’d like to do the pairing. To drink may I have a tall white chocolate mocha with…
SB: (Interrupting) Actually, ma’am that drink is not included in the pairing.
Me: (Confused because I’ve gotten this combination before for $3.95) Hmm, okay… why not?
SB: Well, the drink has to be a latte, which is milk and espresso.
Me: Okay, but I thought the white chocolate mocha had milk and espresso in it?
SB: It does, but the white chocolate mocha has extra flavors in it, so it’s not included. It has to be a latte, espresso and milk.
Me: Okay… well… (Looking at the menu, I spy the words “Vanilla Latte.“) I’ll go with a tall vanilla latte, instead.
SB: Okay, that’s actually not going to be included in the pairing either.
Me: WHAT?!
SB: Yes, in order to be part of the pairing, it has to be a latte – espresso and milk.
Me: But that is a latte, it says vanilla LATTE on the menu!
SB: Yes, but it has a flavor in it and in order to be part of the pairing, it has to be a plain latte, just espresso and milk.
Me: Okay… that’s interesting. Well you’re making this way more complicated than I thought it would be, so let’s just drop the pairing all together. I’ll just take a tall vanilla latte with non fat milk.
SB: Okay, sounds good.

I realize that I was abrupt and I truly am sorry SB, but I think you would be a little frustrated, too. Please keep in mind that the menu did not say “latte*” with the option to add vanilla syrup for $0.30 more underneath it. The menu said, “Vanilla Latte.” I searched for the fine print and I couldn’t find anything that said,”Must be espresso and milk only to qualify for the Breakfast Pairing.” I was pretty frustrated. So frustrated that I got back to work and submitted a concern to Starbucks Customer Care. I basically stated the conversation above and ended my post with, “There seems to be some inconsistency in what is covered in the pairing and what is not. Can you please set the record straight and let me know the drinks I can order with the pairing? Thanks!”

I received a response today:

Hello Brittany,

I would first like to apologize for my delay in getting back to you. I truly appreciate your patience.

Thank you so much for taking the time to write to us.

I am truly sorry that you had such a disappointing visit because of the lack of knowledge in regards of the Breakfast Pairings. This is obviously not the experience we want you to have at our stores.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the pairings, substitutions are not available. You can, however, modify your beverage (i.e. add syrup or an espresso shot, order soymilk, get a larger size) at the standard price.

I want you to know that we take your concerns seriously and that I will share this not only with departments here in our corporate office, but also with the manager and district manager of the *I’M PROTECTING THE IDENTITY OF THE STORE* store to address this.

We have made a promise to our customers to provide outstanding service. I know that this is a primary reason why you visit Starbucks and I understand how disappointing it is when we let you down.

We pride ourselves on great service and I would love to invite you back into our stores for the chance to make up for a visit that you did not enjoy. What I will do is mail you some beverage coupons so that your next drink will be on us.

Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to fix something that is wrong. I assure you that we will take this as an opportunity to improve and that we understand that you have come to expect fantastic service from Starbucks.

If there are any questions or concerns that I have not been able to address, please don’t hesitate to call us at 800 23-LATTE (235-2883), we are here Monday through Friday from 5:00 AM to 6:00 PM (PST).

Thank you again,

I was really pleased with the response I received. Although my question was not answered directly and this is most likely a standard e-mail with fill-in-the-blanks, I was happy to see that someone made me feel special and wrote me back in a timely manner. I forgive you Starbucks. Although I won’t order the pairing again, I will give you another opportunity to serve me.


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