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November 19, 2005

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Me?

I'm a barista, and we always ask names at our store, since we have an advanced labeling system that prints out drinks at each bar we have. This isn't really news to me.

NY ASM

This is not a uniform, country-wide policy. Usually it's by store. Many stores around here do, but the stores I've worked at do not. I do not personally enjoy mandatory name-taking. As a customer, I don't want people to ask my name unless they genuinely care. In an atmosphere with genuine Legendary Service, the regulars will be known by name regardless. I make conversation with my regulars, they ask how my life is going, we "shoot the sh*t," if you will.

Newshift

When our store opened in April, we were trained to ask names, so it started long before september. Most of the customers seem ok with us asking their names. I did have one lady tell me that i DID NOT need to know her name. Any alias will be fine. Its also funny to see the people who look around and then tell you "im the only one in the store, why do you need my name." I find it slightly humorous.

Boston Starbucks Rebel

I always make sure to get their names. I tell them if I can have a name, not necessarily their name. If they don't give a name, then I make sure not to make their drink. When, they ask where their drink is I tell them they should've had a name on the cup. Its quite hilarious. I don't even make the attempt to write the correct drink down. I just make up another drink. Therefore, customers ahead of the line that followed Starbucks sadistic rules. I also know plenty of people's names.

Jill

Newshift is right - an alias works (and is kind of fun, too!)

the coffee geek

I am a store manager in the Northwest Region. I can see how this practice could be viewed as a shallow attempt at being "neighborly". But, hopefully I can shed a bit of light on why many of our busier stores encourage putting names on cups.

Imagine yourself in a busy Starbucks location. You just ordered your usual grande mocha and proceed to the "hand-off" area to wait for your drink. The store is very busy and after a couple of minutes the barista calls out several beverages as the drinks are placed on the hand-off plane. Just then the guy who was in line 3 people behind you walks up and swipes your mocha!

This happens more than we would like (especially during peak times). Marking cups with customer names serves the purpose of ensuring that if Michelle orders a grande mocha before Fred, she gets it before Fred because the barista said, "I have a grande mocha for Michelle"....just trying to eliminate frustration for those who do get their drinks swiped....we don't figure that our customers need to be burdened with having to pay attention to who else ordered what else in order to make sure they get their drink in the correct order.....Any alternative suggestions out there?

padner

it's not a company wide policy. and people who are going to write stories, should get their facts straight prior to doing so.

oh lord

hey folks...it's a f@#$#%&^n cup of coffee...get over it.

"But they asked my name, and now i don't know what to do...ohhhh the humanity"

-m

This is a regional initiative not a company policy.

Some people are so damn up-tight. They're just asking you for your name so you get the right drink. Stop being pricks to the people trying to make your day a little nicer.

Don't Ask, Won't Tell

Asking every customer's name is annoying. If you recognise a regular, sure, but everyone? That's just fake and creepy.

Secondly, not everyone has WASPy names like John, Bob or Chip! What happens when your name is Dzvenyslava, Eiichi or Niamh? As someone with an unusual name, I usually have to say my name three times before people "get it", then have to spell it out a couple of times as well. And as the sales person rarely makes the drink, I'd have to wait for the barista to call out some mangled version of my much-loved moniker. I squirm when it happens at a doctor's waiting room, at the DMV, or wherever, but would be extremely irritating on a near daily basis.

Sure, I could assume a pseudonym, but having to pretend to be someone else, again on a daily basis, just to get a cup of coffee is a little much, don't you think?

-m

Get over it.
The moment they stop getting your name will be the moment you start bitching about never getting the right drink. You can't have it both ways. They have a lot of customers who order the same, if not similar, drinks. If you have such a problem with it Dzvenyslava, just tell them to put a "D" on your cup.

Joost Schuur

Since most people don't know how to spell my first name ('Joost') the first time around, I simply say 'J'. Usually they write down 'Jay', sometimes 'James' or even 'Jason'. No big deal, since my drink usually has a customization, where it doesn't overlap with anyone else's while I'm there.

I don't mind the whole process at all. I happily explain to baristas that it's my 'Starbucks name'.

People starving in Africa however, that really gets to me!

I work at the busiest starbucks in our district in a very big city - we often have a line out the door. So we have two people at bar, making drinks as fast as we can and handing them out.

Its so much nicer and FASTER to call out "I have a drink for Michelle" or Bob, or "D", or "K" or whatever - than in the midst of the flow of things, stop, try to again decipher the scribblings on the cup, and call out "I have a Venti, Half calf, nonfat, 2 pump raspberry soy mocha with whip, 130 degrees, on the bar." We don't care if you give us your real name, a false name, or a letter of the alphabet. In fact, if your real name is unusual or complicated, please give us a shortened version and please DON'T take the time to spell out your long name. We're not trying to get your social security or credit card info, or be fake friendly, we just are trying to get you your fancy coffee drink to you as fast as we can, and with the least likelihood of someone else picking up your drink.

And besides, if you order drip coffee or bagged hot tea, we don't ask you your name because the register barista gets that for you and it doesn't go near the espresso bar.

Phew! Wow, I didn't realize I felt so strongly about that. (wink)

Lyra

Aside from preventing drink swiping, people also tend to instinctively pay attention when their name is called. I've seen baristas hollering "grande mocha no whip" for a good 5 minutes before whoever ordered it realizes "Oh, that's what I got!" But when it's "Steve, grande mocha no whip," people realize it much more quickly.

Boston Starbucks Rebel

There is nothing more beautiful than hearing your name. I think that is very important for a person. If they hear their name and then their drink they feel extra special. Also, we live in a very impersonal way, a name helps a person feel special. Also, its very uplifting when you walk in the morning and someone in the store is able to greet you by your name instead of "What can I get you?" Most of the time, if a person also pays with a credit/debit card, I just copy the name from there instead of asking for a name. It saves alot of hassle.

CoffeeBoy

We have 1 customer who won't give out her name. Not sure why? It's not like we ask for her Soc Sec number?! One day I was feeling like a smart ass and I called out "Grande latte for No Name".

Get over yourself lady!

Supposed Eric

My girlfriend and I adopted "coffee names" after she noticed that Grace had assumed a coffee name on "Will and Grace". It's just a bit of silliness.

What gets in my craw is when I go to a certain store, and they just don't get the name thing, even though they ask for names. This last time, after a century, the barista puts a bunch of orders out at once, and says my kind of drink (grande chai) along with the others, but doesn't say my name. I went up to the counter and looked at the cup that the barista probably had in his hand when he said 'grande chai' and it wasn't even labled with 'CH' and it didn't have anyone's name. So I waited to make sure the drink wasn't claimed by someone else.

At the competent operation I normally go to on the way to work, they always call out names even if they have to call "no-name". Some of the employees seem to feel guilty if they don't know the name of a regular, which is only human.

I've never had a barista at Starbucks ask my name, but it wouldn't bother me.

I'm totally used to doing it at other counter service places and at restaurants with wait lists.

Though at my "new" Starbucks, one of the baristas keeps asking me questions that are starting to creep me out. I mean, they're innocent questions ("do you live nearby?"), but with a bunch of people in line behind me I feel like it's too much extra attention, and that she's either interviewing me or that we're on a speed date.

Anyway, I totally understand people who don't want to give their name, but they also need to get their stick out of their *ss and just give an easy fake one. Tell 'em it's "The Hulk" or "Monday" and keep movin'.

Matt

Wow...I work at a Starbucks and I'm surprised some of you people think we're trying to be pleasant by getting your name (hahaha). The Coffee Guy already cleared this up but I'll say it anyway. See...think about it. We write it on the cup, why? So no one will steal your drink! Usually we just do that when there's a long line, and sometimes certain people do it by habit, but go ahead and try this...when we ask your name, say "Aristotle" and see if we argue. We won't, cause we don't care. Our concern is getting you your drink as fast as possible, problem free.
We all have had to remake so many drinks it's pretty old by now, I love the name system.

French Barista

See, I LOVE the "name game" in the store. It helps people not walk off with the wrong drinks, hear their drink when it's called, and it also helps me as a barista answer that inevitable question "how much longer til MINE's ready???" It also gives me a way to find a customer in a crowd if there's a problem or if I have a question about their drink.

And yes, I may ALSO use it to thank you by name or to try to greet you personally on your next visit. But, at least for me, that's not "fakeness" or audacity, it's simply my attempt at staying a little human rather than completely morphing into a faceless drink-making machine.

And no, not everybody has names that I know how to spell or pronounce. And yes, I've mangaled my fair share of names. But I've also bonded with customers over unique names, learned a few words in a few different languages, and honestly DELIGHTED customers when I got it right the next time. It's all about what you do with it.

Now, when we start venturing into asking for your name at the Drive Thru (my Store Manager's new pet project) THAT might border on fake-friendly/slightly creepy. I mean, when you're at a DT the clarification part of the names serves no purpose, so it's really just so we can have a "personal" greeting for you at the window. And if you thought your name was difficult in person, try screaming it through a DT box. Not fun.

But really. Even if you think it's dumb, even if you hate us for "invading your privacy", even if you think I can't possibly get your name right, PLEASE JUST PLAY ALONG. We're not doing it to annoy you, we're doing it to help you. And if not that, we're doing it because we have to. Don't give your real name if you don't want to. Change it every time you come in. Make a game out of seeing how long it takes us to notice. But please...DON'T just glare at me and say "NO" it's RUDE and it's not saving either of us any time. And it doesn't make you cool either.

I always say Lou for Starbucks and Phil for pizza even though neither is my name.

Marie Antoinette

For the people who think that they're going to be stalked: as a professional stalker, I can tell you that you need somebody's _last name_ in order to stalk them effectively. Don't tell them your last name. Tell them your first name. Or make one up--my real first name is kind of complicated, so I give my middle name.

JP

I am a barista at Starbucks in a 300 drink per hour store. Today was a particularly rough day and I felt like every other drink was being "swiped". Yes, it does happen. These people are like junkies pounding at the door at 4:50 A.M. to get their fix! I really wish my store asked for names. My life would be so much easier. Not to mention every time a drink goes missing, it looks like we screwed up.

JP, are you claiming that your store does 150 drinks per half hour? Doesn't that come out to about 3 drinks a minute? hmm....

cat

yeah - the name thing in the drive through is creepy, thankfully no one in our store is doing that... we do ask for names on instore drinks, as you typically have to call a drink 3 times, even with the name before the brilliant people of our town get off their cellphones and acknowledge our existence

-m

Cat,
Just ask them to step aside until they are done chatting. I told my team to do this and, all of a sudden, customers learned to be politeand hang up.

cat

-M

typically, they wander off into the cafe, just out of sight, so we have to yell... it's embarrassing and i don't care to shout at everyone in the store

Actually, that would be 5 a minute.

Kati

I am a barist and I am on bar a lot. I know at first most of our customer's were leary of us asking there name, however, I now have customer's saying how pleasant it is to be recognized by their name and not just as a drink! If all else fail... I have one gentleman who gives us a different name each time! LOL Anywhere from Mr. X to the Incredible Hulk! He had fun with it and we have fun as well! The customer's now feel like real people instead of just a drink! It truly creates the third place!

I stopped going to Starbucks because I cannot stand the fake friendly bs they pull at 7:30 in the morning. If another little blonde cheerleader mutilates my name while trying to give me my coffee, I might just strangle her. Seriously, it is possible to be friendly without being absolutely obnoxious, but you wouldn't know it around here.

I'll gladly drink my delicious pressed coffee and never deal with the overpriced pain in the ass experience of going to Starbucks.

And no, you can't have my name.

Diana

I don't mind the name thing at all. I've had plenty of drinks swiped, so asking for my name is fine. However, why don't Starbucks employees wear name tags? All these baristas know my name, and I have to sheepishly ask for theirs. How is that right?

They know your name because they asked. You never did. Sounds right to me.

Lauren

Starbucks looks upon it as "low" to wear name tags. Getting those barista cards was hard enough, as was the cup tree, but to wear nametags makes us along the ranks of people at McDonalds or the Gap. Do people on Wall Street wear name tags? Does Bill Gates wear a name tag? I think they just think it's too tacky. And honestly? I agree.

yea for Lauren!

Aussie Barista

In my Australian state, it's absolutely compulsory for us to get a name for the cup. We actually lose 7 points from our "mystery shopper" snapshots if the cup doesn't have a name and/or this name isn't called out by the barista.

As others have said, it doesn't have to be your real name. We have one regular who told us her name was "Zanzibar" one day and now she gets a giggle every time we yell it out from the hand-off plane!

Besides, if done properly, the whole name thing doesn't have to be fake and ridiculous. My store is in the heart of the business business district and I'd say 75% of our customers are regulars that come in at least once a day. In peak hour from 7am-9.30am, almost every customer is known by name to at least one of us on shift. I'm really proud of the friendly conversations I have with the regulars and most of it started because we were able to recognise them by name and drink...

djchuang

I had noticed that some stores ask for my name, some don't; some put it on the printed label, some write it by hand; some spell it right, some spell it wrong. Never thought of it as being neighborly, thought it was to make sure someone else didn't take my drink. Which, in fact, just happened yesterday! (yes, they did give me a comp coupon)

CoffeeBoy

Dear, "and no, you can't have my name"

GEEZ- I hate friendly people at 7:30 am - Give me a friggin break. You are a moron - it's people like you that make Baristas jobs harder. We try to be nice and you just growl at us. God for bid someone actually wants to be nice and friendly at 730 am. Just because your a grouch at that time doesn't mean everyone has to. So drink your coffee at home or anywhere you want to - One less nasty groucht customer for us to deal with if you ask me!

PS - Do you think every overly nice person in the service biz is fake or just if it is before you have had your coffee fix?

osama

Whenever I am asked for my name in a commercial establishment, I say "Osama". (I am by appearance a very typical American Caucasian.)

Then, when I come back every day for the next year or more, it's fun to watch them wince internally when they have to say it. Especially at Starbucks, where the whole room automatically turns around to watch me pick up my coffee.

raquel

dude. no one's going to stalk you based on your name. people are so freaking presumptuous - the barista is just trying to make sure you get your froufy-@$$ latte, not follow you home or hang out with you.
I'm a starbucks frequenter, and I'm half latin/half south asian muslim with a name people can't spell. do I get my knickers in a twist over the name misspellings though? no. I occasionally get irritated when someone's REALLY off in reading it or whatever, but honestly, as long as the coffee is good, the service is timely, and there's soymilk and not regular milk in my drink, I'm a happy camper. Isn't that what all of you complainers should be wanting anyway? Good coffee? Seriously...if you hate Starbucks so much, stop freaking going there.
As far as the christmas music argument, it does grate on me a little bit, but I'm also aware that I'm in a country that loves christmas, and it would be the same in most of the western world anyway, so there's just no use to get all psycho about it. Again, I'm there for my coffee and if the music bugs me, I can leave.

thisistruth

this has been happening for years in southern california

-m

what has been happening?

Brittany

I like the name thing. My name is Brittany and there is like five different ways to spell it...and I've seen it everyway possible.

To the people who think they are going to get stalked: I personally haven't heard anyone refuse to give out their name, but for those of you who do, you need to get over yourselves, like anyone else is listening when you say your name. what do you think...that they are going to write it down. People cant even remember their own drink, let alone your name too. It seems like you all like yourselves alittle too much.

SBUXGRL

I agree with Raquel!! If Starbucks bothers you that much, then stop going!!! The reason most of the people are hired at Starbucks is because they are GENUINELY friendly..it is not fake!!! ANd I cannot believe how many people on this forum are so offended by the baristas asking their name!! There are sooooo many other places that you have to give it! Have you ever waited to get seated in a restaurant? Have you ever had to wait in line and get a NUMBER?? Wouldn't you rather just give a name instead of being asked to "take a number"??? SHEESH!!!!

rach

wel i work in preston (england) and we dont have this system\ i think it would benifit our shop as people snatch the wrong drink n blame us ALL THE TIME. but one thing i have learnt- YOU CANT PLEASE THE CUSTOMERS-some are so god damn nasty and snobby, all we try to do is help you-'connect , discover, respond' how the hell cam we discover what size, drink, staying in, taking out, whip cream on your hot chocolate, if we dont ask and you dont say? ill tell you what, if your sooo bothered about us 'pestering' u with questions, why dont ou tell us EXACTLY what you want!

some also get mad when we have 2 re ask ou what you ordered. well how can we remember when you say' latte, choc muffin 2 egg paninis, regular soya decaf coffee' in the space of us writing 'T,L' on our sticker/cup? we r not machines, you should w8 for us 2 take your first order and till it in, then say it again, not just get it all of you chest. and for you people who come in and say 'i want a coffee' WHICH??? its starbucks GEEEEEEEEEEEZ we have loads and differnt kinds. if you dont know which kind then we r happy to help you, just dont be nasty and look at us funny when we say 'what coffee would you like?' because we work at starbucks we know how many diferent coffees there are, and we want 2 get the right 1 for you!

anyone else agree with me???

Name withheld to protect the guilty

>Starbucks looks upon it as "low" to wear name >tags....[T]o wear nametags makes us along the >ranks of people at McDonalds or the Gap. Do >people on Wall Street wear name tags? Does Bill >Gates wear a name tag? I think they just think >it's too tacky. And honestly? I agree.

Sorry, those folks on Wall Street and Bill Gates don't wear name tags because they're not employees providing a service to an external customer. Wearing a name tag would make you along the ranks of yes, McDonalds, but also every department store I've ever been to (Kaufmann's is tacky?), every ambulance service I've ever worked at, all branches of the military (last name only though), and every hospital I've ever been to (so you don't want to be lumped in with those doctors and nurses, I guess).

Kent

I was a barista 4 and a half years and I think I had the store record for remembering people by name and drink (about 200). Sure we all knew it was to so the customer wouldn't get their drink swiped, but for me it also became a way to relate to people and go the extra mile.

I left 8 months ago, but people still ask about me and when I stop by the regulars give me hugs and want to know about my life. I agree that fake sincerity is a turn off, but when you show genuine interest in people and their lives, it makes all the difference--no matter where you are.

CB

Wow, it really seems like a big issue to have someone ask for a name to put on a little paper or plastic cup...

I guess I don't really know how a prime market starbucks handles life in the big city. I also may not understand the desire for annoymity that seems to go with that lifestyle, but I do know a few other things...

I am currently a learning coach undergoing the training plan for a shift manager and I belong to the only store in our town of aprox 100,000 people. The nearest store that could offer us any form of support is 90 miles away and we are classified as a remote store, as if that title doesn't make us feel even more in the middle of nowhere.

You would think that a store of this type doesn't truely understand the "Starbucks Experience" or "Legendary Service". But we do, and more so than I ever thought possible for our store. We make lasting connections everyday and every single partner knows the regulars that frequent during their shifts. Do we know everyone's name? No. Do we ask for everyone's name? No. But we develop wonderful relationships with the people of this city. I know that no matter how stressful our day may be, those customers brighten all of our lives. It may just be the small town feel of this city but our customers really want to be a part of our lives and we want to be in theirs. We know their drinks, but its more personal than that. For many, we know their children's names, what big things are happening in their lives and even some of their failures they have daily. Its truely an experience I've never had in any business I've worked with. This experience isn't just one sided either, most of us are college students, and they want to be involved in our lives, I can recall one regular who always buys any partners graduating college gift cards to the mall, or even just gifts that remind them of us. Another regular gave one of our partners a card with $100 in it because he knew that the partner was taking a vacation to vegas.

Is this all because Starbucks wants us to get a name. I think its a possiblity. We pride ourselves on our connection we make with the community. By asking for a name we do increase the effectiveness of a getting a drink out at the hand off, but we also may open a door to creating that legendary exerience. I can't spell everyone's name right, but I laugh at my own difficulty with the customer. They understand, and I think a part of them almost feels for my difficulty.

The key point is that starbucks has a wonderful plan for creating a successful business, we make a wonderful cup of coffee but I think that the biggest reason our customers come every day is for our partners. They are the key to our success in this town. If a customer had to pay approx $4 for a drink and got bad service I doubt they would come back.

starbucks lover

I think CB is right. I dont personally work at starbucks, but my current boyfriend used to. I met him through Starbucks and we (Me and my family) invited him to go along with us tubing and skiing. he kindly accepted and we have be together ever since, (its been about 6 months now) We already have his christmas gifts and everything. Lots of my friends work at starbucks, who werent my friends before. Anna, has a kid and is a single parent. we know when her birthday is and everything. For Christmas, we are actually making a cake for all of the people at starbucks. By them just asking for our name one time, it started a bunch of long lasting relationships that i am very grateful for. However i do not live in a little city or town. there is at least one starbucks within every mile of another. So no one can say that i only am friends with them because they (along with every other person in our city)know everything about me. Because they dont. I really do not see why people are even arguing over this. Its only a name. whether its a real of fake one.

rogue

I don't know about the rest of the world, but here in Southern California, we've been getting customers names for years. And yeah, I've covered shifts in nine different stores. It's company philosophy that we need to get to know our customers and their drinks, hence their names. But you know what? The store I'm in right now, we see over 800 people a DAY!!! That's right, we're open 5am and close after midnite. No way in hell I'm gonna remember all those people. I don't care if another store makes their drink just the way they like it. Just like customers are different, so are us coffee slingers. And we don't read minds. To reiterate, we're supposed to ask their names. Some customers are cool with it because I'll say "Hello Joe, I'm Rogue. It's nice to meet you." Rogue is not my name by the way. To the rude customers I'll say "Your drink will be ready down there." So yes, some people do become wary and suspicious when we ask them what their names are. They think we're gonna dope them and assume their identities or something. By the way, with the turnover rate of employees, issuing nametags will cost the company a small fortune. Don't let the door hit you on your way out.

rock-the-bucks

over a year ago Starbucks issued name tags to all store employees. They were cheap and almost all of them broke, (mine didn't) they were going to issue other name tags but it never happened.

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