Hope for Retail Service in the Form of a Mermaid

No secret, my dependency on The Bean, but I actually believe that it’s getting worse… much worse over time. How do I figure that? Every morning, on the way to my train station, I stop for coffee. Well, at first, I didn’t even do that. Then I started to go a little out of my way so I could pop into one of the local Dunkin’ Donuts every morning. Now, and for the past five or six months, I’ve been going even more out of my way to pay homage at Starbucks. They keep changing their menu, at least once a quarter, so it’s hard not to stop by often, and the every day thing just sorta happen.

A couple of weeks ago, Starbucks started a special promotion on their stainless steel line of travel (or office, depending your needs!) mugs. If you buy one, you get a $5 gift card as a rebate/reward. They have a couple of different models: flip top lids with rubber stoppers, push button o-ring sealed tops, with and without handles. They even had a couple with tappered bottoms that would fit in a car’s built in cup holder. I’m ashamed to say that I hesitated with a purchase; they quickly sold out of the model that I was eyeing. See, the thought was if I got the travel mug, I wouldn’t sloodge coffee all over my car – once real winter hits, even I usually switch from iced coffee to hot coffee, and for whatever reason, the Starbucks Mocha Latte is explosive. It always seems to want to hop out of it’s cup and all over the lid; it usually succeeds in doing so. I personally blame the whipped cream, but this has happened even when the barista forgets to add it.

So there’s this cup that I now think I need. Need? Doesn’t matter – I want it, therefore I shall have it. I think Kahn said that in Star Trek II. Ironically – well sorta anyway – there’s a Starbucks within extended-walking distance of my office. Field trip! In this Starbucks, they have the mug, but they don’t have any signs up declaring the promotion. As I work in Stamford – The “Advertised Discounts Do Not Apply Here” City – it didn’t surprise me. Just about anything you could think of, retail-wise, is regular priced, if not marked up. No big deal – I wanted the mug at this point.

As I had a class to teach last night, I stopped in a mall on my way to school and Lo! Starbuck’s #3 was waiting for me. Third Starbucks visit, spanning three towns and two counties, in a 12 hour period. While in there, I notice this store has both the mug and promotion, to which I say “Aw”. The barista, who counting out my change, before going over to make my venti vanilla latte, started to chat me up a bit about what was up, and so I tell her about the trips about town. I then step over to the “bar” to wait for my latte. While I’m waiting, a suited business type guy walks up to the barista and calls her back to the register to check his balance on his gift card. So now I’m waiting a bit longer, as the barista is arguing with the register and losing the arguement, but another barista takes over the creation of my latte, so I’m not worried about being late for class – at least they can’t start with me being there! Just before I get my latte, the suit guy turns to me with the gift card and says, “Here ya go – that $5 gift card we never got to ya.”

Totally slackjaw’d! I mean, who does this ever happen to? Well, the suited guy was from Corporate. It clicked as soon as I saw the gift card itself – wasn’t like one I’ve ever seen in the CT based stores. Besides, what are the odds of a store-based manager having to wear a suit and or tie? Consequently my first found words after this were “You’re from Corporate, aren’t you?” to which he nodded to. After thanking him I went on to class, but this made an impression, obviously. Would the $5 make or break me? No… it doesn’t even buy my loyalty because they already had it. What nice to see that at least some companies out there care about their customers as much as their business reports – almost shocking, actually.

FYI – The Caramel Apple Cider, which has returned to the menu board in New England, is a regularly offered beverage, I’m told; it just doesn’t fit on the menu all the time. Oh, and there’s a menu shift coming again in November… given that the holiday season that’s beginning, can you guess what’s next, or more importantly, what’s returning?

And so thedependencyy grows…

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