A Tall Order for Customer Service

FullSizeRenderVisiting a good friend in Hoboken, NJ and we were in dire need of some serious java. We headed over to the Starbucks in walking distance from her apartment near the Hudson River.

My favorite drink these days is the Starbucks Double Shot on Ice. It’s similar to the tasty canned version but made fresh by a smiling barista. Well, usually.

I ordered and happily waited for my caffeinated beverage. When my name was called, the drink tied to my name was definitely not correct.

I kindly told the barista that my drink wasn’t right. She said she wasn’t the person who made it but will gladly redo it for me. In the background, I saw a male barista looking over, rolling his eyes. I instantly felt bad and apologized for being difficult.

The very next day, my friend and I ordered Starbucks via the mobile app. We clicked on the Starbucks Double Shot featured picture to make 100% sure that it was the correct drink before ordering. When we went to pick up our drinks, my drink wasn’t made correct again. The same barista was in the background looking over, shrugging his shoulders, as I talked to another barista to correct my drink.

I gave it one more shot and returned to the Starbucks for a third day, expecting a different result. Yes, that may be the definition of insanity.

I walked in and the eye-rolling-shoulder-shrugging barista was at the register. He immediately yells out to his coworker, “Hey, I got this one. It’s free for her.” 

I’m confused but go with it. He grabs a Venti and perfectly mixes up my drink.

I ask him why this was free and his honest reply shocked me:

“The last two days, I was having a really bad time. I had to stay later in the day, even though I opened at 4am. I was tired and grumpy. No excuses though. I made your drink wrong twice and I owe you.”

We all have bad days.

I know I’m guilty of being grumpy with customers and coworkers. This barista’s honest admission was welcomed. Both of us were glad that I stopped by again, giving him the opportunity to make the situation right.


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  • Great post, Jenny. Man, you could go so many directions with this one. I can’t wait to hear Toister weigh in because you and I tend to be really nice 🙂 His willing admission to the customer definitely endears him as human which actually goes a long way. But now we’re in a position where we think badly about his employer for overworking him and how that is causing serious problems with quality and the customer experience.

    • Thanks Jeremy. You’re right, it really does go in so many directions. I didn’t even think of it from the angle that they are overworking him, but yup–now I think that. Gotta love the variation of Starbucks! I feel like each time I walk in, I never know what I’m going to get anymore.

    • Two things:

      1) Awesome post, Jenny. A great reminder that we’re all human. I’m glad the barista owned it (eventually). It’s also a great reminder that we often don’t get that 2nd or 3rd chance. A two-day grumpfest could be costly.

      2) Hilarious that I go to comment and see Jeremy’s comment! Jeremy – thank you. And, for the record, I’m completely OK with you and Jenny being nice. To your point about the employer, check out this incredible article about a Starbucks employee trying to make ends meet with a crazy schedule. (Yes, I too have a soft spot for employees).


      • Wow, thanks for sharing that article, Jeff. It’s important to read that side of the story. It’s easy to forget how much of a benefit schedule consistency and/or flexible really are and the act of fitting employees into neat boxes at work can throw the rest of their life into chaos.

  • Jenny

    Here is what I am not getting.

    You visited NJ; you are hard on our Hoboken baristas (maybe not enough).
    And you did not even come to Phone.com to say hi?

    Maybe you had a bad day; You’ve got two more chances to fix that.

    See you

    • HAHA Alon, you caught me red handed. Thanks for giving me more chances to fix this. 🙂 I’ll go easier on the NJ Baristas next time and will make sure that I see you.

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