« Starbucks opens its sixth store in Detroit | Main | Cleveland museum's deal with Starbucks irks local coffee chains »

August 19, 2006


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Two free ounces of coffee for a regular customer? We can't allow that here!:

» 8/20/2006 Retail Notes from noturnonred.org - thoughts on the retail industry, visual merchandising, customer service, and good design
Just a few quickies this weekend: In case you missed in, Andrew Young resigned from his position with Wal-Mart after putting his foot in his mouth. EnVision Marketing Group has partnered with Kroger Food Stores to offer advertising on the conveyor belt... [Read More]


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

ugh! what was the point of dumping out the coffee? I can understand if say it were a pastry. You asked for one and you got two. The barista would take the extra cookie back and put it away. The customer wouldn't have it, but the barista would be able to sell it down the road. With the coffee, Natalie was just doing it for spite. The customer doesn't have it but neither does she. On the other hand perhaps Natalie was just thinking that you only wanted a tall and thus was providing that to you. Maybe it was a misunderstanding - but I wasn't there.


Yeah, we all want things for free. If you liked how a grande looked, why not buy the grande? You went up for a re-fill? Why buy the smallest size and then need more? I obviously wouldn't dump anything down the drain but you did ask for a tall and you did end up receiving a tall, correct?

As a "regular" you've probably seen that we throw out our coffee if its been sitting any longer than an hour. Dribble by dribble- DOWN THE DRAIN! OH NO! Maybe if we gave every customer a venti instead of a tall (FOR FREE!) we would never throw any away.


My thing is that "regulars" often start to think they are entitled to special things.. free this, special treatment there. And hey, we do end up giving regulars special things and I have never worked for another company whos more willing to give away free food and drinks before but one cannot come to feel entitled to something as a customer because business is still business.

I wonder where this customer works...


This customer says they paid with a card. I bet they never tip either! Suprizing how far we will go to please a customer that tips and acts decently.


SOMEONE: You don't get it -- I asked for "a tall coffee for here" -- I didn't "like how the grande looks."

SARI: Oh, so I have to tip to get decent service at Starbucks? It's all becoming perfectly clear now.

I'm not a Starbucks hater (I wouldn't go there daily if I was); I'm simply pointing out a stupid act on the part of a Starbucks manager -- pouring out two ounces of coffee for no really good reason.

Yo, Webmaster, you've been doing this site for a while now, so I'm surprise at your reaction to people like SOMEONE, SARI, and DEUSX. These people will justify the actions of the company at all cost, even if it means dissing a decent individual. What you have here on this site is a bunch of Starbucks sympathizers that have been drinking too much "koolaide" see the opinions of others. That's my 2 cent.

coffeeguy :)

totally they should not have done that.

I never do that to any customer starbucks card or not the coffee is better in someones hands then down the pipes.



I'm right there with you!!

If someone asks me for a "for-here" tall, but all I have are grande mugs, I fill it and let them know that I don't have any talls, but of course charge them for the tall they asked for. Sometimes you'll have someone say that it's too much for them and then, and only then will I dump some out. Most times people are happy and thank me for the free upsizing.

district manager who cares

The Barista was correct. If they give you a grande and you ordered (only willing to pay) for a tall. Then you got what you wanted, a tall. If that same barista give you that grande without charging you for it, I as a district manager would have terminated the barista for giving away product and undercharging you. If you don't like it, sorry but we gave you what you ordered and what you paid for.

You said that "pouring out 2 ounces of coffee for no good reason". How about the reason of giving you what you wanted and ordered, a tall?

I hardly see any problem. You never paid for the 2 ounces of coffee. So what do you care what Starbucks does with it?

You GET what you pay for and we are happy to give what our customers want. Now, would you care for a pastry with that?

Get a life and have a gran day!

"District Manager," I call bullshit.

James the Barista

I'm sorry webmaster for your bad time at Starbucks, it seem that girl that helped you was not legendary, Does anyone ever ask your name? Know your drink? I can understand the dumping out a little bit, but a refill is great way to connect. Sometimes you SHOULD fill er'up all the way as a way of saying thank you to you. That Barista was being way to off base. I'm sorry for them.

Store Manager who Cares

Hey, it's awesome to see a DM here! I have to agree that I would be assuming you only wanted a tall, and thus poured the rest out. Some customers REALLY only want a tall. They don't want the extra coffee, caffeine, etc. Sometimes, they have their "mix" (with milk, sugar, etc.) down pat, and the extra two ounces throws that out of whack. If you wanted a tall, paid for a tall, and got a tall, what's wrong with that?

district manager who cares

James The Barista, you have the customer care connection philosophy. Nice going! I dealt with a customer a few months ago that complained about asking for a refill and only getting 3/4 full. Of course the original order by the customer was remembered by the barista and was done just as originally ordered. 3/4 full. That barista remembered the drink AND the customer but still took a load full of grief for it. She even called the person by her name.

I am all about giving people what they want but sometimes you have to realize that what people "think" they want is STILL not good enough for them.

Thankfully, the vast, vast majority of our customers are just amazing and keep me employed by such a great company. Thank you all for that! I am sure Store Manager would agree with this also!


I agree with "SM who cares"

You'd be surprised at the # of people that I've seen that will be upset if you upsize them, or give them a little extra. I have a "tall in a venti" guy who can tell by the weight and will ask us to dump out the extra, because he has "his mix" or whatever. The baristas were just trying to give you what you wanted, what you asked for.

as for the refill though, that's crappy service

I thought you were supposed to charge by cup size because they are going to still use milk, sugar, etc to fill the cup. Am I wrong on this?


Jim, as in every realm, there are people who are nice, normal, nasty, incompetent, weird, unpleasant, etc. There are those who have bad judgment, who are marginally employable, who fear authority, who abuse authority, etc. Natalie is a jerk, plain and simple. My store has tons of 'em working there. The world has tons of 'em in it.



You would terminate a partner for giving a grande for the price of a tall? What if a person ordered a tall in a grande cup and the barista filled it up by accident and still charged for a tall? What if during the calling, a grande latte was made a venti latte by mistake? Should the barista just offer the customer the venti or throw it out and make it again because the customer ordered a grande, and he or she is afraid of getting fired? What kind of nut are you? Sheesh...no wonder we have unions. If I was gonna get fired for undercharging because of my own miskake (for a total of 15 cents) I'd join a union too.

What is with the deusx hating? I mean, he's an opinionated guy and all, but he hasn't even posted on this topic.

"DM who cares" is soooo not a DM (and what a shitty name, it implies that you "care" but you talk about firing a partner for such a minor "offence")


I hadn't even spoken on this topic, yet here I am "dissed" again. Once again by someone so cowardly or lazy that they refuse to identify themselves. Yet the criticize people how have the guts to be held accountable for their opinions and statements. Once again I ask that some sort of registration goes on, even if only the host knows which posts belong to whom. I'm really sick of cowards hiding behind anonymity.

Since I've already been convicted for a crime I didn't commit, I will commit it now. Webmaster, you are both in the wrong, her more so. It was petty to pour out the coffee and definitely lacked the customer skills even a starting barista should of already mastered. But your tone definitely reeks of entitlement. Although it was silly to pour out the extra, you asked for a tall and paid for a tall. Apparently, you got a tall and sure, the extra was going to waste by not giving it to you,but you weren't entitled to it no matter how regular you are. As for tips, I definitely would be more willing to go out of my way to bend the rules or even possibly break them for a regular who tipped often versus not. If they are willing to go above and beyond what they have to give me for standard service and the product then I will definitely go above and beyond as a show of thanks. But TIPS should be an acronym for "To Insure Prompt Service" not "To Insure Passable Service". People should do their job for everyone, tip or not.

In closing, her attitude as you describe it is just horrible and unforgivable IMHO in an assistant manager.


Man, I need to spell check before I hit post *they* and *who*..sigh


DEUSX -- I asked for a tall "for here" cup, and the male barista who took my order and poured the coffee gave me what he considered a tall in a ceramic cup. He was overruled by Natalie, who thought I was given just a little *too* much coffee for my $1.52. So she poured two ounces or so down the drain. End of story.

Boston Starbucks Rebel

Are frappuccinos(r) cold?

Boston Starbucks Rebel

It is my conclusion that this store is very messed up. They should be moved to the blacklist forthwith. I just called and asked the above question. All they did was laugh at me. They should be aware that not everyone knows what frappuccinos are cold and that baristas get this question alot, especially in Boston. They are not welcoming or considerate. With ASM like "Natalie" it is apparent that it trickles down to bad baristas. BLACKLIST this Starbucks now.

Lucky McBucky

Well said Rebel!!

Man oh man, I can not believe that this conversation is happening on here. Generally I see alot of great comments that are right on target to what we stand for as a company. Now I see a "District Manager who cares" heading down a road that we should never go. It is not "Us against them", it is us BECAUSE of them. If you are a DM I hope there is someone out there that can teach you how to work within our culture. You seriously are very out of place with this company!

Remember that you JOB is to provide an uplifting experience that enriches peoples daily lives.

The only reason to dump the coffee is out of spite, and that does not align with our values as a company. A quick question to clarify whether the customer wants to have the coffee removed would have solved the whole issue.

I for one do not appreciate the so-called Partners who are taking this great comapny and running it like it was a burger king....


district manager who cares

I had to read the original post again to make sure that I understood the full story.

I came to the conclusion that what the barista SHOULD have done was pour the coffee into a tall mug, and then present the tall mug to the customer. An “I’m sorry for the confusion. Here is your tall Sumatra” should have followed. We assume she was being nasty by just turning and dumping the coffee in a manner that can be perceived as nasty and her actions probably were.

I suppose you could say, different delivery, same result. The customer got what he ordered. End of his story. So now the issue really is what about the extra 2 ounces of coffee?

Don't worry about it. Give the customer what they ordered discard the 2 oz. and then not worry about being investigated by an asset protection person asking you "So, you gave a grande, but charged for a tall?"

Folks, there is a bigger issue here that you may want to consider. There are a huge amount of beverages that are undercharged or just plain given away by Starbucks partners. As a district manager I do not want to see this abuse (theft) continue. It creates a culture of "oh Starbucks is big, we can afford it, so just give away a little coffee."

Normally (years ago) this whole incident would have seen that the customer was served a grande with our compliments. Today however because of unscrupulous partners, the times have changed and we have to insure that partners do not fall into that gray area of theft, and that the need to understand the issue of “just give it to them” is an area that CAN get them into trouble.

I want partners to remain employed and not creating a culture of "its just O.K. when it is not. If we allow that, we have a bigger problem than some barista dumping out 2 ounces of coffee.

It’s all about perception, and it’s all about understanding what another issue might be.

As far as understanding the Starbucks culture. I will let my terrific partners in my district tell you about it. Mine, and theirs. If a customer say’s they want a for here tall Sumatra. Give it to them. That’s what they are paying for and there is no gray area here.

Hope this explains some of my thinking. Have a great day everyone!

Barista to the Stars

You have GOT to be kidding me -- I upgrade people all the time, with my store manager's blessing and encouragment. If we make a venti vanilla latte instead of a grande, I offer the venti for grande price. If we make a mocha frappucino by mistake, I offer it to whomever wants it. I would NEVER turn and dump 2 oz of coffee, unless the customer asked me to. And I have had people say, as has been mentioned, "No, that's too much."

So, Webmaster, you were treated shabbily by Natalie and that's a shame. All I can say is that for all of us that knock customers with attitude, this would be an example of why some customers don't treat us as the professional baristas that we believe ourselves to be.

Barista to the Stars

district manager who cares

“I upgrade people all the time, with my store manager's blessing and encouragment.

You realize you and your store manager are in violation of company policy?

If you or your store manager were in my district you would be in a bit of trouble if you upgraded without charging. Unintetional mistakes are just that unintetional and there is nothing to worry about in that case.

Perhaps you should share this site and it’s/your comments to your district manager for some feedback on what is right or wrong. Then again maybe you shouldn't.

Care to share the name of your store?

Just Me

The last time I was at a Starbucks - months ago - my pals and I were the only ones in the store. A drive-through customer ordered something and it was made incorrectly - maybe regular syrup instead of sugar free. The barista came over to our table and offered us the drink free of charge, since it would just be pitched otherwise. Following some of the logic here, is something like that against policy? Just curious since this seems to be a gray area.

Yeah, Me

Barista to the Stars: "I upgrade people all the time."

DM Who Cares: "Care to share the name of your store?"

A + B = DM thinks Barista is a stupid head.

Good thing you went the DM route over detective.

district manager who cares

The mistake was legitimate and one would assume that the original customer got what they ordered.

The drink is best discarded as their could be some perception of giving something away without charge. It's a gray are for sure but it's just best to stay away from.

Ever wonder why you can't take home marked out pastires? Same reason. Perception and it's not yours to give away in the first place.

district manager who cares

Well Yeah me, looks like you also think that upgrading is wrong too. It is. I guess you didn't notice the irony in your own response.

Care to share which store YOU work in?


do the math

let's see.

mistakenly making a venti latte instead of a grande and offering it to the customer anyway: one cup, 18oz milk, 2 oz espresso.

mistakenly making a venti latte instead of a grande, throwing it away because that's what starbucks wants you to do, and remaking it a grande: two cups, 32oz milk, 4 oz espresso.

Boston Starbucks Rebel

Today one of my baristas got into an argument with a DM who was stopping in because he was from NYC. He gave him the worst attitude ever. I immediately called the DM even though I'm not the SM and apologized for the baristas behavior. He said thank you and was appreciative that at least somebody in my store was considerate and genuine. My ASM who was on the floor could care less and said, "We'll worry about this if he calls here." I said, "Don't worry I have already taken care of the situation and contacted him myself."
Is it really so hard to create the Starbucks Experience and be legendary?

coffeeguy :)

DM did you not get the customer feedback forms that get posted in ALL the partner com logs recently.

It brought up this VERY topic. A customer who had this exact thing happen wrote in and starbucks published her letter.

Their response. Communicate with the customer when this happens. If they look like they don't want the extra coffee ask otherwise assume that your doing the customer a favor and just hand it off anyway.

that's part of being legendary. We can use our errors to the benefit of our customers. If that extra two ounces of coffee makes someone feel better and welcome in our stores then when it occurs as an accident you just let it stand and give them the coffee.

That is starbucks stand on this issue and that overrides ALL of us on this one. The customer relations forms are put out for a reason. We are meant to follow the examples laid down by them.

End of case.

What does Verona taste like?


You suckers can't take pastries home? What a gyp. They're going in the garbage anyway. We take pastries home all the time, sometimes someone will drop them off at a shelter of some kind, or sometimes we'll just give them away to the customers still hanging around at the end of the night. In my experience if you do something nice for a customer like upgrade them or give them old pastries (that are being thrown away otherwise!), that makes a return customer. Not so much the smiling and the learning people's names.

She probably thought you wanted the extra room for cream or something. Some people are weird and if you give them the extra coffee, they flip out.

district manager who cares

I like your response Coffee Guy.

We can use our errors to benefit customers. Yes, you sure can. But! I had a store partner who consistently made errors in sizes and guess what? The errors were all of the larger size variety. Talk about using your errors.

That stores check avg. after we terminated that full time partner rose .04 cents per transaction and has stayed that way for 7 weeks.

That's what I'm talking about. It's one thing to give legendary service. It's quite another to give away your product for legendary service.

Nuff said!

barista chica

people, people, people - this is the PERFECT example of how a bad experience travels faster than a good one. granted, if "natalie" had just said "oops, my mistake, it's on us", we probably wouldn't have heard about it on this website. however, because she spitefully poured out the coffee, jim's bad experience is all over the web.

IMHO, if i were running the company, i'd much rather have my employees (sorry, partners) offer the extra coffee that was already poured into the mug to the customer rather than pour it down the drain. why waste the product when something like two ounces of coffee could be just enough to make a customer more satisfied (and pass along a good experience, rather than a bad one)....


Pouring out the coffee was just her gaining a very pissy little piece of revenge. OMG, 2oz of coffee might make it out the door without being paid for? Anarchy! What happened to the whole "Just Say Yes" attitude we're supposed to have? If it brings them back because of the great service, isn't that what we are supposed to doing anyway. Oh and DMWC, we donate any pasteries that don't sell that day to charity. Is SBX so petty that the attitude of "if no wants them then it just throw it away" rules the day. Give me a break. It's garbage. What difference does it make? It's already bought and paid for by SBX, so you'd rather it ended up in a land fill than them being donated to people who can use them. Is that slice of poundcake going to break the company. Please. I guess that whole helping the community thing isn't part of your agenda. And firing someone who accidently gave someone too much coffee by your standard? I hope I am not in your district. That's just too stupid for words.

James the Barista

I'm regretful for saying this but will all due respect you guys are off your rocker...nuts..and your not getting it at all! The point of the matter is connect with the customers and the money will flow in, not the other way around. Why do a lot people have brown noses and think all Starbucks in is a evil empire in which its only goal is to make a lot of money? Remember the days you were a baristas? The days when a 4 dollar latte was crafted with care because you knew the name of the person who was about to drink it and how it has to be a certain way? You're all losing your grip? You are SUPPOSED to offer the mistaken drink you made in the wrong size to them and offer them a new one. Its the right thing to do! Its all in the name of connecting with people, I'm talkig about real connections. Not some people you wouldn't want to be caught in an alley with but a people you can have a causal converation with. You need get all your morning shifts and take a slower one...ask about their day and just introduce yourself. Why not? You work at one of the best companies in the world? If you don't think so, then you need to find a different store or call your DM, RM or the resource lines. Let me guess, you think I'm brainwashed...I have medical...dental....stock...and the best benefits in the world for this kind of job. You name a better job then this!


DM who cares,

I give away free drinks everyday, would you fire me?


Hahaha What we have here is a guy that wanted a tall coffee and got just that. Probably gave a huffy "YOU MADE A MISTAKE!” Thinks to self-- Oh God forbid, I could have drank that mistake. But was too damn cheap to figure out I wanted a grande anyway as he sees his 2 ounces flow down the drain. Then 15 minutes later comes back to the counter because he has been stewing the whole time and gives a snide remark because he was offended that 2 little old ounces could have been his. For free. I’m entitled! Well I guess not Mr. Regular pays for my drink with a Starbucks card
but can't figure out the name of a good African American barista but has it in for this Natalie chick. What did she really do, turn you down for a date? 2 ounces of get over it already.

Free drinks are rampant at Starbucks. Those 2 ounces of drip amount to nothing. But when you have all this free product leaving the store where do you begin? As far as I can see, a lot of the baristas love giving away stuff they know they can get axed for. I have seen it as a customer and have even said it to the manager of the location I see it at. Her response? There’s nothing I can do about it. Funny, not just 2 weeks later she’s gone with about half her staff. When I ask about her and a few others it was “let go for giving away free stuff.” No doubt she was the biggest offender.

Brew at home. That would shut you all up.

coffeeguy :)

DM i do understand that. But you have to understand that I imply there is a diffrence between giving away product all the time and honestly making a mistake and turning it around.

and I respect that you don't want free product going out. That's alright. I get it. We all do. It's a fine line.

DM, care to share the name of your district?

i've been working at starbucks for about a month now, and i've accidentially sometimes have gotten the customer a size larger than they had asked. usually, i'll apoligize and then just charge them for the size they wanted, giving them the extra amount as a token as my apology, and then about 75% of the time, the customer asks me to "pour out" the amount extra, noting, "if i had wanted a grande, i would have asked for one"


"DM" is not a DM.
and if they are...they won't be around for long.
that is not the way we do things.

natalie probably wont be around long either.


I don't want to stir up trouble or make people mad but I stand with DEUSX on this one. How things were handled, though, I'm not sure I stand on the same page as him.

Natalie offended first with the overruling of the "that's grande" thing. Admittedly, that'd make me a bit upset, but hey, whatever, it's a minute detail of my day. I feel the webmaster then offended by using a tone of entitlement. While it did not make her dump the coffee it definitely inhibits her from learning your name. And perhaps, because something of the sort has happened on other occassions (french press?) she has no desire to learn your name?

Admittedly, sometimes when I encounter an entitled regular I sigh and help them with a smile but I ask them if they want their regular, get their regular and let them be. Because I'll cater to their will as long as they don't throw the same entitlement thing at my baristas. It's unfair and it hurts. The service industry sucks. I mean how do you know what my day has been like? How do you know that the construction guys doing our remodel weren't done at 4 am so I had to give coffee away for free outside, call my district and scare the crap out of her as well as fend of the drunk construction manager?

I mean it's all part of being considerate. Natalie wasn't considerate. She dumped out coffee and didn't consider that you would have enjoyed it. You weren't considerate. Way back long ago you started to have a grudge against Natalie.

And to the whole DM/Barista debate about dumping out the two ounces? Haha. Try taking that to corporate. Fire a barista for it, I DARE you, and then see the wrath come back. Because while yes, we have to keep in mind profitability it the basis of success -- it's also keeping customers coming through the door and enhancing partner lives. I'd love to be fired for an offence like that because I KNOW that Starbucks would be behind me 100%.

Store Manager

I just wanted to throw in a comment on the whole eating marked out pastries thing. EVERY store is EXPECTED to have a charity to donate their pastries too. If for some reason, that's not available, then in that case, pastries should be marked out and discarded or sampled to customers.

NOW, the reason partners aren't allowed to eat marked out pastries is because partners will inevitably say, "Oh, I'm not going to buy that bagel on my 10 and I'll just eat it for free when it gets marked out." That's wrong.


I wouldn't be so sure Lauren. The biggest complaint I have with the company is that they will back a DM, almost to the point of insanity, in a situation.
We had a DM who had been reported numerous times for violations of policy and star skills. He had been caught trying to force a shift to use the barista crew to clean up a bathroom covered in shit instead of calling hazmat. This same DM had every manager under him out for blood when they had skip level meetings with the regional. Finally, a wrongful dismissal suit AND a harassment suit was sent to corporate. What happened to this DM? He got promoted.


to "DM Who Cares" -- It's called Being Legendary, and Just Say Yes. We have a lot of latitude to make our customers happy. 2 ounces of coffee falls into that category.

If you think otherwise, I suspect you'd be happier in another line of work.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Search Site

Ads (2)