It’s gotten that bad. I was pretty comprehensive in my first list about the most annoying customers that frequent Starbucks across the nation, but I’ve compiled another ten to augment the previous ones. As always, these are actual cases pulled from real life behind the coffee bar…
10. Waiting to Order – This customer loves to walk in while I’m in the middle of doing something like cleaning or making prep. I stop what I’m doing, walk over to the register, pull up my screen, and wait. And wait some more. And then awkwardly turn around and resume whatever it was I was doing earlier because they’ve decided that instead of ordering, they’d rather settle into their seat and unpack the 57 things that they brought with them in their overnight bag. About the time I get my hands full with pastries or bring out a heavy box or a full bucket of ice, they saunter up to the counter and demand service. Look, just place the order when you walk in the door. Or, if you aren’t ready to order yet, wait in your car or outside. Either way, the best method for ordering is when you come in.
9. Calling Back – As a general rule, I hate answering the phone at Starbucks. This for three reasons: 1.) It is someone asking when we close. They have this thing called the internet, probably the same thing you used to find my number, and it’ll tell you what the hours are. Figure it out. 2.) It is someone asking where our store is located (see #8 Below). And #1, because it is someone calling to complain that we made their drink wrong. Look, I understand we screw up. We’re human, it happens. But calling us back to tell us that you got to work and your mocha tasted like it only had 3 pumps instead of 4 does nothing for anyone. You’re not leaving work and we don’t deliver, so everyone loses here. And since you’ve spent the last 15 minutes telling all your co-workers how bad your drink tastes you are in a mood for a fight, which never ends well. Look, I’ll give you a free drink. Just be nice about it and have an actual complaint. My favorite version of this is the person from Indiana (or some other place hundreds of miles away) that stopped on their way home from the beach and is now 50 miles north of me. What exactly am I supposed to do to fix your problem? Oh, you just wanted to call and tell me that you hate your drink? Well, duly noted, thanks for calling and have a nice day.
8. Where are you located? – Calls like this make me crazy. Typically, someone that is making this call has no idea where they are and are either on the road to somewhere or just have issues. A typical conversation is as follows: Lost Person: Where are you located? Me: On Lakeshore Dr near State Farm Pkwy. LP: Where is that? Me: In Homewood across from the Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart. LP: I’m not sure where that is. What else is nearby? Me: We’re right next to a Moe’s and a Verizon Wireless store. LP: Oh, is that by the Piggly Wiggly. Me: No, not even close. Where are you coming from? LP: I’m not sure. I just passed a sign that said Welcome to Alabama about an hour ago. Me: I’m sorry, I can’t help you. It’s just a lost cause. GPS is amazing and will find us from nearly anywhere and if not, then I’m not sure that you need the coffee that bad. Just stop at a gas station and get a Coke. You’ll make it, I promise.
7. Ordering by Ounces or Prices – Look, I’m smart and even have a Master’s degree. And I can figure out that when you say 16oz you mean Grande. But if you’ve taken the trouble to figure out how many ounces are in the medium sized drink, I think you can also learn the name of it. And, on the other side of the coin, all of the prices of drinks I ring up have tax added to them. The menus do not. This is some internal Starbucks flaw, but what it really means is that if you order a $3.75 Mocha, I have no idea what size you want. And no, the correct answer to “what size do you want?” is not a price or an ounceage. If our fancy names like tall, grande, and venti confuse you, then say small, medium or large. We’ll translate for you. It’s not that hard.
6. Messy Tables – Here’s a little lesson in the difference between a store/bar and a restaurant. If someone seats you at a table and then another person comes and takes your order and brings you your food, then you can safely assume you have a waiter and they will dispose of your dirty dishes and the like for you. You should then tip them accordingly (18-20% is recommended). If you walk up to a counter, order something, pay, and then have it handed to you while you are standing there, then you are probably in an establishment that does not have waiters and the employees probably have much better things to do than cleaning up your dirty napkins and empty cups. Trash cans are in plain sight and easily accessible for a reason. Use them. And if you plan to not use them, then please leave $5 in my tip jar and specifically tell me that you are planning on leaving your table a huge mess and you’d like for me to clean it up in exchange for the money. Then at least we’re clear.
5. Ordering Pastries We Don’t Have – This just kills me. Sometimes, and I know this is hard to believe, we run out of pastries. You are not the only person in the world that loves plain bagels. So check and see if we have your favorite pastry before you order it. We don’t have time to keep track of the 16 or so various pastries that are in the case and if you order something that I don’t have, chances are I’m going to charge you for it. Then after I’ve taken your money I’m going to go look for said pastry and when it is not there, I’ll be supremely annoyed and then will have to figure out if you want a refund, or another pastry, that probably does not cost the same amount, which then holds up the line behind you even more. It’s just bad all the way around. And, if you don’t see the pastry in the case, it’s highly unlikely that we are hoarding a stash of them behind the counter. We try and sell what we have, not keep it, so we put it out. So here’s a simple rule to follow: If you see it, order it. If not, don’t.
4. Putting Money on the Counter – I’ve noticed this more and more lately. Someone orders the drink, gets the price, and then counts out the correct change and the plops it all on the counter. Have you ever tried to pick up 63 cents off of a smooth surface like a counter? It’s hard. Just hand it to me. You’d get mad if I set your change on the counter and did not hand it to you, so why do you feel that it is appropriate to do the exact same to me? Same goes for bills and credit cards. Any form of payment ought to go into the hand of the cashier. And I know that Europeans put their money on the counter, but having been there does not mean you are one, and they also have trays that facilitate the picking up of the money. We don’t and were not there, so from here on out, put it in the hand.
3. Asking Me to Read the Menu – This is similar to the person that pulls up in the drive-thru and asks what pastries there are today. Just come inside and see for yourself. But in this case, you are inside and you order an Espresso, then ask what flavors there are, even though they are clearly and neatly listed just above and behind my head. The Frappuccinos too. And given the fact that you walked in with no assistance and no white cane, I’m assuming you are not blind. If you were I’d be happy to read the menu to you. But you aren’t. And I doubt you’re illiterate too (You read Espresso off the top of the menu). So use your little eyes and read down the menu to find what you want. Then you can tell me and I’ll see that you get. Funny how that works.
2. Sunglasses in the Store – Look, you aren’t famous. I know this. You know this. I know this because you are in my Starbucks and famous people do not find their way to an obscure corner of Homewood, AL to order lattes. You know this because you know that you are not famous. So because we’ve established that the paparazzi are not stalking you and I highly doubt you are either in the witness protection program or on the run from the law, you can take off your freaking sunglasses when you walk inside. Number one, you might actually be able to see the menu to order correctly, and number two, you won’t look like a huge moron. So just leave the glasses on your head or in the car. I promise your sensitive eyes will survive.
1. Whispering – You have an outside voice. You know, the one you use to yell at your spouse, kids, or pets. Ok, then think about that tone, turn it down a bit, and then use it to order so I can actually hear you when you are trying to tell me what your drink is. I know it can get noisy in the cafe sometimes, but you are allowed to speak over the din so that you get the right drink. For some reason, this has been driving me crazy lately. Probably because I hate guessing games and trying to read lips as someone is mumbling or whispering their order to me. So speak up people.
So there we have it. As always, the majority of the customers we baristas encounter each day are wonderful and kind people. But for those few…well, that’s why I make these lists. I feel better getting it out there, and hopefully it will help people be better customers, whether at Starbucks or wherever they may get service. So thanks for your patronage and give a tip and smile to your barista…you don’t know what their morning was like today.