I'm a bit of a fan of Starbucks coffee. Not sure why really as in terms of flavour it's not the best I've ever had. Back in the days when I owned my own coffee shop I would quite confidentially say that I served better coffee.
When Pauline and I cycled across the United States in 2011, early morning coffee was the start to every day, mostly a weak watery concoction at a local gas station. Occasionally, in larger towns, we would find a Starbucks and be very excited at finding this treat. They were few and far between in the midwest, but of course when we hit Seattle, the home of Starbucks, they were quite literally on every corner. Because of our mutual like of Starbucks we chose their very first store in Pike Place Market, downtown Seattle, as our finish line.
Maybe it's the consistency, that you can rely on getting the same thing every time, But whatever the reason I think we could be taken for loyal customers.
Well, (do you sense a rant coming here?!), just a couple of days ago I visited a Starbucks store in Edinburgh, my home city. I have a Starbucks card which I've had for going on 10 years, and though I don't use it all the time, on occasion I'll put money on it and pay for my coffee because in doing so I get a free extra shot and flavouring syrup.
Apparently, and this came as news to me, between the beginning of January 2012 and the beginning of January 2013, you had to gain "50 points" on your card, one point for every coffee bought using the card. But I don't use the card all the time, so that wasn't going to happen. Anyway, I knew nothing about this scheme. Once you reach the 50 points your card is upgraded to Gold Star standard. What does this mean? Well, quite simply it continues just as before with the same discounts.
But of course, I haven't used the card enough. So I wrote to Starbucks. Bottom line is because I hadn't gained the 50 points on the card in the year I was not considered a loyal customer and so unworthy of their Gold Star.
Considering the recent bad press they have been having over the supposed non payment of British taxes etc, you'd think they would be going all out to improve their image.
In reality, last year I did reach and surpass the required 50 points, but of course in Starbucks eyes I cannot prove this.
This is not the sort of customer service one would expect from an American company, and quite frankly I'll be looking for a different regular coffee provider from now on.