Anyone who’s followed this blog knows how much I love Starbucks. I’ve posted countless times about its coffee, drinks, merchandise (tumblers, mugs, planners, etc.), and locations in the different countries I visit. I have an entire blog category for “Starbucks” alone.
That is, I used to love Starbucks. Until one fateful day last December…
I’ve always saved up stickers for the annual Starbucks planner since they first came out in the Philippines. One year I manage to drink and treat others to enough coffee to amass five planners. I average three per year. The first always goes to my best friend, the second is for myself, and the third is for giving away. This year, I’d already redeeemed two and was working on the third.
Now this is my third planner redemption card. I bought two non-holiday drinks at Starbucks Glorietta One or Rockwell, I forget now which branch. By mistake the barista put it on the back, on “Option 2″ (all non-holiday drinks). I said I preferred the stickers on the front – “Option 1″ (less drinks to buy). He apologized and said the stickers would still be honored anyway, and would be applied by any other branch to my Option 1.
A couple of weeks later , I bought a non-holiday drink at the Starbucks at Harbour Square, Cultural Center of the Philippines complex. Again they put the sticker for my brewed coffee on the back. They cancelled it while we discussed what to do.
Exhibit A. Option 2 stickers, with the one issued by Harbour Square cancelled.
So far so good.
Then I noticed that I nearly had enough stickers on the front to redeem another planner! I asked if I could apply the two non-holiday drinks to the remaining drinks requirement.
I was told that one of the stickers would be applied to the one remaining core drink requirement on the front. The sticker that they (Harbour Square) issued and cancelled, they placed on a new card.
The third sticker would be wasted, unless I went back to the branch that issued it and ask for a new sticker to be reissued. Having forgotten which branch it was I got it from, I asked Harbour Square they could re-consider and place another sticker on the new card they had just given me, because I was assured by that other barista that all stickers would be honored. It was clear anyway from the sticker that I had purchased a drink. But no, the person from Harbour Square said “It’s a different branch.”
(back to the present)
Not a big deal? Heck, yeah, it is. Where is the customer delight in this? I bought those drinks fair and square with my hard-earned money. Still, because of a mix-up that was no fault of mine and that could have easily been fixed by that particular Starbucks manager, I lost one sticker. I feel robbed. I feel disappointed. I feel let down by a company that I have championed for years.
In fact, I am so upset that I am boycotting Starbucks from now on. I now make it my mission to find good, if not better, coffee elsewhere. I will advocate other kinds of coffee and coffeeshops, preferably Filipino, and that’s what I should have done more of long ago.
Because it’s now a giant chain, Starbucks has the most branches of any coffee shop, and that’s their advantage – they’re everywhere. It will be difficult to find other coffee shops in the places I frequent.
Difficult – but not impossible. Highland arabica, as I’ve had it in Baguio City, is particularly tasty and never bitter. The best cup I’ve ever had in my life was a cup of barako – Philippine liberica – at a thoroughbred ranch in Batangas, liberally splashed with fresh goat milk from imported goats that the ranch owner raised along with his race horses.
Coffee at the BenCab museum in Tuba, Benguet, a few minutes away from Baguio City proper. Not only is this sort of coffee (Benguet arabica) more delicious than the brewed coffee at Starbucks, its served in such a way as to delight the senses, with brown sugar and milk in a wee jug. (December 2011)
Yeah, Starbucks Philippines. You lost me because of one. lousy. sticker. Happy New Year.