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December 12, 2007

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Truth

It is very easy for someone who "only works for a few months for research for their book" to pass judgment. They belittle the folks who have to work these jobs as careers for whatever reasons: still in school, limited options, limited education, divorce, drug addictions, etc., etc. I hope this book fails. The author is a dilettante.

poppy

"I began to loathe them as they treated themselves.... The individualized orders and particulars so many customers seemed to cherish struck me as a societal illness underwritten by corporate greed."

Gosh, I can't wait to read what he says about the customers at Whole Foods.

seventysix [76]

"Even as I got to know my coworkers, I treated them warily. Surely they must be plastic, I thought -- otherwise why would they work for this massive company? But I could hearly find a plastic member of our crew. ...each was very much an individual. But our manager was a different story."

Ha!

Mr. Guilt

"Even as I got to know my coworkers, I treated them warily. Surely they must be plastic, I thought -- otherwise why would they work for this massive company?

Yes--everyone who works for a massive company is plastic. If they were authentic, they'd be Keepin' It Real at a small, neighborhood coffee house/restaurant/computer company/whatever.

It couldn't possibly be because they need the money and benefits, and take a genuine pride in the product or service offered.

Yes, you will fine corporate drones everywhere. I dare say that anyone who works for a large company may give that impression at a surface level. But, once you get to know anyone, they don't meet your stereotype.

Quite frankly, I'm rather tired of these wanna-be hippies who assume that corporate is bad, big business is bad, and anyone who works there is a sellout. At the end of the day, people wind up in places they don't expect.

/I don't work for Starbucks, only a customer. But I do work for a "massive company."

Mike

He definitely needs to work at a few stores and for quite awhile.

There...

Most of the customers who come in I want to slit their throats like Jack the Ripper.

baroosta

This guy doesn't deserve to work at Starbucks...

Zipy

Thats genius, i want that book.

78th and Lex

That's about right...

true. totally true. most of the partners i've ever worked with (at a handfull of different stores) don't buy into that whole starbucks lifestyle crap, at least not after the first month. even my old ASM had disdain for the company, and i found it rather refreshing to know that at least one member of management felt the same way i did about my job.

He worked for Starbucks for how many ... WEEKS?

Ken

Weeks, yes. Imagine if he was there longer? If you are only at a job for weeks, and can develop feels like he did, imagine how bad it would have been after months, a year. Feelings like that don't get better, they get worse.
It think its rather telling accually.

"Weeks, yes. Imagine if he was there longer? If you are only at a job for weeks, and can develop feels like he did, imagine how bad it would have been after months, a year. Feelings like that don't get better, they get worse."

Idk, I know most of my new employees go through an adjustment period of a couple of months. Between all that they need to learn and adjusting to people and yadda yadda yadda, I think it takes at least 3 months to be comfortable.

Plus, this job is not meant for everybody. Maybe he's just one of them who can't hack it? Not to mention, I think his preconceived notions about the company really jaded his perspective to begin with.

Stacy

Ken,
For my first 2 months of employment at Starbucks, I absolutely hated it. It's 3 years later, I love my job more and more, I don't plan on leaving until I'm done with school (3.5 years from now) and I've even thought about the possibility of working at the corporate level one day. Sure there are some aspects that I don't care for but overall, I'm good with Starbucks at least until I get my degree.

darthsid

I completely agree with Stacy. I've been in the system for two years now, and've worked numerous other sideline jobs and this is the only job where I can actually coerce my DM into taking tequila shots with me.

How's that for plastic cogs?

Elizabeth

I worked for *$ for 9 years. I became a shift supervisor after a year. After 2 years, I voluntarly demoted myself and I was a lot happier. For the next 6 years I was a barista. You can handle working for Starbucks for years and years if you yourself are not having to deal with all the crap.

elizabeth

oops I misspelled voluntarily

PDX Barista

How does one work at a job for weeks and feel that they "get it" enough to really appreciate it? If you go in with the attitude that you want to find fault and wrong doings, you will undoubtedly find it.

After over 10 years with 'bucks I look forward to work everyday. I have held various positions in different parts of the country. We have 55k different drink combinations, new espresso machines ever year, and over 20 coffees to become comfortable with. It takes time to get comfortable. In my opinion it takes about 3 months just to feel confident on bar.

This "author" went into all these jobs and wanted to find fault and did not become vested in what he was doing. If he actually cared about any of the people in front of the counter or behind it, he may have had a different perception.

Bob

It doesn't take long working at one of these corporate cog jobs to figure out that they're horrible. The worst part is how you're supposed to pretend to give a crap about all their "culture" BS. It's not insulting enough the sort of work you have to and how they let customers treat you, but then you have to put on this false face about all this crap that you couldn't possibly care about and act as though you LIKE getting it up the ***??? Wonderful. And just think about all that money they could have spent on decent WAGES instead of on all this malarky. . .

Starbucks = EPIC FAIL

sbuxnewbie

False face?? Pretend to care??

Geez, talk about someone who really hates his life!

I've been with the Bux for about a year and a half now, and I've been a shift for most of that time. I work at a DT store, and I have regular customers in the cafe and at the DT who I look forward to seeing every day, many of whom ask where I am when I'm not there.

I haven't had a single customer give me major attitude in all that time (although I've seen a few give it to other partners, as well as having seen some partners who need an attitude adjustment!), and I can honestly say that when I smile at a customer, it is genuine.

I've worked in a lot of other fields, including civil service, tending bar, cooking, waiting tables, customer service, teaching, and manual labor. I've put in thousands of hours for non-profit organizations, and been an emergency responder for police, fire, and EMS organizations.

And when the alarm goes off at the crack of bleary o'clock, I have no problem getting up and going to work, because I really and truly enjoy what I do, who I work with, and the customers I take care of.

If you have a problem with your job, Bob, that's fine - but don't assume that anyone else has the same stick up their butt.

ella

I have a hate and love relationship with starbucks. I love the people I work with. my manager is very open and fun to work with. there are the crazy customers but I have learned to deal with them.I have managed to crack a few smiles from them. I love being on the register because its easier for me to send my smiles that way.its a bit difficult to have a conversation when you have 5+ things to do ie steam milk, memorize drinks,add the syrups etc. I have thought about leaving but haven't.

darthsid

Methinks bob needs to get a backbone and stop putting up with buttseks if he doesn't like it.

Quit! Quit! And let us happy people be.

LM

That author sounds like a jerk. Let's get hired at places to find out things that are wrong. You have nothing better to do than waste your time joking on what some people invest years of their life in. I have been there for 7 years and yes, I've had some rude customers, the crappy manager, but doesn't every company have things that don't go perfect at some time or another? Qeez, get a life!

former-zeroperatioshift

2 weeks removed from my tenure at starbucks and this guy essentially sums up my 3 year experience in a few paragraphs.

Wow... I miss my partners, but certainly not my manager or the bratty customers.

former-zeroperatioshift

LUSHED

some of his sentiment can certainly be evidenced in the corporate militancy present throughout my retail experience within the company, however...

i am resentful that this person worked at these 'front line' jobs trying to get the 'authentic cog-in-the-machine' experience while obviously not requiring the income to survive. he lacks the essential experience of those working under these conditions without any means of escape (a la publishing a book).

his analysis, to me, is moot simply by his having shopped around at various corporations with no genuine interest in continuing a career with them.

personally i find it insulting that he is going to make money by highlighting the miserable experience that others have to face every day.

i think he epitomizes inauthenticity and a clear lack of culture. i do not find him to be an ally, rather someone trying to capitalize on my mistrust and misgivings about where the company is headed.

Dad

Would you like some cheese with that whine?

LUSHED

i respect your opinion.

Jeannique Darby

Okay, sure, sometimes all the Starbucks culture stuff can seem a little like brainwashing. But I can honestly say that I have learned a lot.

This is by far the best job I have ever had, despite the pay and working my ass off. I love going to work, love the people I work with, and even genuinely enjoy talking to customers.

So please don't assume that you speak for all of us, Mr. Frankel. Every Starbucks store is a different experience.

zevgoldman

To reconstruct a phrase from the War in Vietnam; Mr.Frankel is a journalistic REMF and a very self-important one to boot.
I wonder if he's ever kissed anyone,aside from himself.

Matthew

After being pointed to the story about 2 oz of coffee down the drain, I just had to post.

I first went to starbucks when there was only one store in Pike Place Market in Seattle. I bought my coffee beans at their roasting plant in Fremont. They delivered ground coffee to the place where I worked (anyone remember Speakerlab?)

Now, if there is somewhere other than Starbucks, I will go there. The reasons are legion. I see from postings that they are totally consumed by corporate culture at the expense of customers. Partners are not really partners (look up the word), people at the counter have fancy titles etc.

Remember, when you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

Typical of todays Starbucks counter person is when I ordered an iced mocha, I got some sort of super sweet crappy frappuchino. When I told the person that it was not what I ordered, I got an argument. I had to explain that all that they needed to do was make a regular mocha coffee drink, and pour it over ice. Not really complicated, but it shows how far Starbucks is from what a coffee house/bar is. ANY other espresso bar will know exactly what I want.

Remember, a service industry is about service. When you forget that regular customers have a right to feel special (entitled) because they spend a lot of money at your store, you turn into used car salesmen that just want the immediate sale, and don't care a bit about you after the sale.

Starbucks deserves to suffer sales losses. Why should I wait 20 minutes in line for a cup of coffee, when the little place down the street has serve yourself coffee, and trusts me to pay? Which environment would I rather be in? Which people would I rather support, free WiFi not withstanding?

The formula works. Radiohead proves it. You can choose what you pay for downloading their album at their website. You can choose to pay zero, yet the average payment is over $9.

I am old enough to remember what a coffee house originally was, (Jazz music anyone) and I am sorry to say, Starbucks has become another McDonalds with more coffee choices. A long way from their beginnings in Seattle.

Megan

Though I have never worked at Starbucks I have worked as a minimum wage worker in a movie theater. It seems no matter where you work as a minimum wage worker they expect far more from you than they are willing to pay for. I definetly feel like I earned my $7.01 an hour working at the theater.

I can also relate to Mr. Frankel's eventual loathing of his customers. There may not be as much customization of food items in the theater as in Starbucks but there is some. Some people want a ton of butter, some want a little but not too little, etc. I started feeling like customers were the enemy even though they were why I was there.

Meg

I can relate from both sides -- I am a loyal Starbucks customer simply because they have better hours/locations/prices than many of the local shops. I also have friends who work there and thus, have gotten to know a lot of the employees which means going to my local Starbucks is always a nice treat.

In college, I worked at Border's for 6 bucks an hour with crappy benefits and crazy, crazy, crazy (!) customers. Now that I'm in the corporate world, I still have the same corporate "values" shoved down my throat, I still make way less than what one year's college tuition cost me and I don't have the perks or flexible schedule of say, Starbucks or a retail job. I guess I think its all the same. If it was meant to be fun, it wouldn't be called work.

Meg

I can relate from both sides -- I am a loyal Starbucks customer simply because they have better hours/locations/prices than many of the local shops. I also have friends who work there and thus, have gotten to know a lot of the employees which means going to my local Starbucks is always a nice treat.

In college, I worked at Border's for 6 bucks an hour with crappy benefits and crazy, crazy, crazy (!) customers. Now that I'm in the corporate world, I still have the same corporate "values" shoved down my throat, I still make way less than what one year's college tuition cost me and I don't have the perks or flexible schedule of say, Starbucks or a retail job. I guess I think its all the same. If it was meant to be fun, it wouldn't be called work.

Mandee

I'm what you call a "Lifer." I love my job. I love the poeple I work with. I love my customers, especially my regulars. I've worked a variety of different jobs and this is by far the BEST. I might not make near the amount of money I could be, but the key is I'm HAPPY! This is my advice: money is not everything. Why would you want to work at a place you dread going to every day to make a bunch of money that you obviously wont enjoy because you are a bitter person from spending your life at a place you hate? Seriously, it is way more rewarding to make less at a place you actually like working for...you'll appriciate what you have SOOO much more! So if you aren't happy, quit. Because you are bringing down morale for others who COULD be having a much better day if they didn't have to listen to your negativity all day long. Also...anyone who thinks that our customers are "difficult"...work at an incoming call center for awhile, where people CALL you with the sole purpose to YELL at you...all day...8-10 hours a day, 4-6 days of the week. Even the most "difficult" customers at Starbucks are WAY better than that! ;-)
As for the infusing the culture of Starbucks into it's employees...that's for those who love their jobs...because they honestly take pride in it.
Everyone has their little "niche"...what they were meant to do. You just gotta find it.

JJ

Reading this column has made me realize what causes all the gossip by Starbucks baristas. They aren't busy enough, so they start playing games with the emotions of customers. It is so cruel. As Howard Schultz said, some underperforming stores will close. I can't think of a better reason to help the whole company than to close these stores, and get rid of all the people that work there. They don't deserve to be a part of such a good company! (I hope Howard reads this).

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