Posted by: Kristy | April 15, 2010

Coffee Conversations: A teaching moment

To say that I have a strong attachment to coffee may be a bit of an understatement.

I am addicted. I will admit, coffee is my vice. Not only for the caffeine, though I do get withdrawal headaches within two hours of starting my day if I skip my morning java, but I just love the taste of coffee. I tend to be a very healthy eater, but coffee has become a very solid staple in my daily life.

(Ahem, yes, I realize I have a problem. I’m OK with that.)

To that end, today found me all a twitter as I was running errands for some upcoming promotional events and passed a local coffee shop — which shall remain nameless — for which I had a coupon. A coupon for $1 off a grande latte sat in my e-mail, easily accessible on my Droid Eris, looking the same as it does when I print it off. Now, I put this into practice fairly often, but to my thinking since we live in an increasingly mobile world and not everyone owns a printer — ahem, me — and doesn’t want to take advantage of the printer at work — ahem, me again — isn’t the coupon on my phone, in jpg format, the same as what I would print onto paper? I mean, I can print the coupon as many times as I would like, so I can’t abuse the electronic image any more than the printed one, right? Right? Yeah. Right.


So, I pull up and place my order, all happy and joky with the barista who lives in the speaker. I even tell her I have a coupon because I used to work at a fast foot joint and know how annoying it is when people tell you AFTER you’ve cashed out and opened the drawer hoping to save them and you time.

This is how our conversation went down …

Kristin: “Hi! I have a coupon for $1 off a grande sweet and creamy beverage. Does a Leprachaun Latte count?”

Barista Who Lives in the Speaker: “Sure it does. And your coupon is for a grande? That’ll be $3.59 with your dollar off.”

Kristin pulls up and prepares a really nice smile because it’s sunny and warm and Thursday and her hair looks really cute today.

Kristin: “Hi there! Here’s my coupon.” Shoves phone toward window.

Barista Who Used to Live in the Speaker: “Welllll, this is going to have to be the last time we accept a coupon electronically. From now on we have to have the print out.”


Kristin, with an “oh shoot” smile: “Oh, darn! That stinks because I don’t have a printer.”

Barista Who Used to Live in the Speaker: “I know, I think it’s pretty silly.”

Kristin: “Well, rats. I’m going to have to start going to Starbucks.”

Barista Who Used to Live in the Speaker: “Hey, girls, we’re going to lose a customer to Starbucks because of the new coupon rule.”

Barista Who Clearly Has No Sense of Customer Service: “Oh, yeah? Well, that’s the way it goes.”

For reals? That’s what you say to your customers?

Now, I really don’t care about the coupon. Even though they’ve become ridiculously overpriced and I try NOT to go there unless I have a coupon, I’ll admit that if I’m desperate enough I’ll break down and stop at this particular coffee shop.

However, that was a strong teaching moment for me as a manager. If you hire people who don’t care, it shows in tremendous ways. So I guess the way around that is to only hire genuinely positive people.

It’s just sad to me because I remember when this coffee shop — cough * Biggby * — used to be THE place to go. When I was in college my roommate and I LIVED there. We studied there. I had Bible study meetings there. I went there with other newspaper editors to fortify ourselves before deadline. And they always were so nice. And yummy. And affordable.

So, Biggby, if you’re going to insist on people who don’t own printers paying full price, please try to hire nice staff. Who at least ACT like they care customers are going to defect to your competition. Just some friendly advice.

Thanks for giving me my fix today, though.


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