It’s Not the Starbucks Boycott We’re Breaking Up

boycott-starbucks

You’re probably aware of the recent calls on social media for a Starbucks boycott triggered by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s widely broadcast corporate memo detailing his plan to hire 10,000 Muslim refugees.

Schultz’s pledge was in response to President Trump’s decision to sign an executive order temporarily halting citizens from some predominantly Muslim countries from entering the US until the federal government developed a means of properly vetting refugees. There was even a trending Twitter hashtag about it, #BoycottStarbucks.

I don’t have a problem with Shultz’s personal opinions. I also applaud his compassion for those fleeing war, violence, persecution and discrimination. What I do have a problem with is his decision to make the Starbucks Corporation a soap box for expounding his own personal social and political ideologies and using the brand as leverage to do so. I also believe because of other statements he has made, that Schultz’s personal dislike and disapproval of President Trump is far more the driver behind his response to the temporary travel ban than his compassion for refugees.

I also believe that a business should stick to its core business and stay out of divisive social and political issues that they have no real qualifications for butting into. Starbucks has some real and pressing customer service issues that they should address before going off on some open borders social activist tangent.

While Starbucks seems to continually add more product lines to entice customers, they continue practices like having only one employee taking orders and operating the cash register even during peak hours. Thus, Starbucks customers suffer inexcusably long delays when attempting to make a purchase at the counter.

The drive through service is even more abysmal if that’s even possible. On average, I’ve routinely spent 15-20 minutes waiting in the drive-through line. During peak hours, the delay is even more horrific. I don’t try to use the drive-through anymore because I simply can’t spare the time.

Generally, I have always purchased just black coffee rather than one of the exotic, handcrafted Starbucks drinks. Starbucks obviously makes a great deal more profit on those drinks than a Grande Pike Place. That’s why the company does nothing to address the fact that customers who want only coffee have to wait in the drive-through behind an endless line of SUVs occupied by 4 or 5 people ordering specialty drinks. Starbucks clearly doesn’t care about coffee only customers. The situation has become even worse since Starbucks expanded their food offerings.

I’m realistic and accept that it isn’t feasible to have a separate drive-through line for coffee only customers. But how about a self-service option for coffee only customers inside the shops? I know the technology exists. I visited a car dealership in Dallas that had one in their waiting area. The Starbucks-branded machine automatically ground the coffee beans and then quickly dispensed a perfectly brewed cup of hot coffee. At the dealership, there was no charge for the coffee. It was complimentary. But it’s the Twenty-First century and technology exists for producing a similar machine with a card swipe where customers could self-serve and self-pay for their coffee. The company I work for has soda and snack machines that have card swipes.

If I haven’t been clear, I find corporate social activism distasteful and inappropriate. I don’t want to hear a corporation’s pet social ideological core values. In return, I don’t burden them with mine. That’s even truer when it comes to a company like Starbuck where I overpay for average coffee, not only a cup at a time but for the whole bean bagged coffee that I’ve been purchasing weekly from Starbucks for more than a dozen years.

I’m not talking about a Starbucks boycott, I’m done with Starbucks

The bottom line? I’m done with Starbucks. Let us be clear. I’m not talking about a Starbucks boycott. A boycott suggests refraining from something temporarily until the offending party changes an objectionable policy. What I’m talking about is a break-up, a permanent discontinuation buying Starbucks products. I won’t stand in their lines or cool my heels in their drive-through lanes any longer. I won’t be making my heretofore weekly visit to local Starbucks for a bag of Pike Place whole beans. I won’t be purchasing birthday and Christmas gifts there for friends and family. I’m fed up with their lousy customer service and the arrogance displayed by their CEO who mistakenly believes I’m a member of some captive audience who must listen to his core values nonsense whether I like it or not. Howard, take your lousy sense of entitlement and shove it. Here is my response.

Dear Starbucks,

I’m sorry, it just isn’t working out between us anymore. I wish I could say it’s not you, it’s me. But I can’t because that wouldn’t be the truth. It isn’t me, it’s you.

For a long while now, I’ve been sick and tired of standing in long lines and sitting in the drive through for 15-20 minutes to buy your overpriced, average coffee. Let’s face it. Your coffee was never spectacular, just middling. Our relationship was never based on anything but a convenience and sadly that part of our relationship has long since disappeared.

I really tried Starbucks. Even when you stabbed me and every other loyal Starbuck Rewards member in the back by eviscerating the rewards program to squeeze out a few more pennies of profit, I tried to stick with you. But CEO Howard Schultz’s decision to turn the Starbucks brand into his own personal social and political activism platform was the last straw.

You see, Starbucks, I’m just an old-fashioned kind of guy. I expect companies that I spend a considerable amount of money with each month to have things like providing more value to all shareholder and customers and quality customer satisfaction as core principles, not the advancement of the personally-held world views of their CEOs. I believe social and political activism is something an individual should pursue on his own time, just as I do. These concepts seem to be lost on Howard. A business should stick to its business, recognizing that involving itself in divisive social and political issues risks alienating long-time loyal customers and driving away business.

The hardest part of losing someone isn’t having to say goodbye. It’s having to learn to live without them. It’s trying to fill the void, the emptiness that’s left behind when they are gone.

I’m sure you will absorb this blow and learn to live without my money. After all, I’m just one customer. I was never under any illusion that I was anything special to you. But it must be said that a good many of my friends, family members, and acquaintances, not to mention a good many of their friends, family members, and acquaintances, and so on and so forth, who feel the same as I do are also saying goodbye to you.

Please don’t worry about me. A part of me will miss you. I’ve made a big investment in our relationship having been a Starbucks Gold member for more than a dozen years. But I’ve met someone new, another coffee roaster who seems to appreciate my business. You will probably think me petty for saying so, but the truth is their coffee is better than yours and it’s less expensive. Even taking shipping into consideration, I still pay considerably less for it per pound than I use to pay for yours at the local store. Best of all, they stick to their business and do not bombard me with their personal social and political views. It really seems like this relationship is going to work.

Breakups hurt. But losing someone who doesn’t respect and appreciate you is a win, not a loss. So, thanks for the memories, Starbucks. It’s been real. But it’s time to say goodbye.

A former customer

 

Thanks for reading what I realize has been something of a rant. If you love coffee as much as I do, please tune in again next time when I’ll post something a lot more positive, a review of my new preferred coffee roaster.

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