Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on July 31, 2007
Yet another bad Starbucks experience today. Higher prices. For worse service. It’s one thing to boost your prices if you are delivering a good experience but this isn’t the case with Starbucks. At least not my Starbucks in and around NYC.
So today I go in around 8:45AM for an ice coffee. Nothing fancy. The one line is really long. I loved it when there were two or three lines because I usually just order a simple drink. Now I have to wait for all that complex stuff to be made and served.
OK. As I get to the front of the line, the Starbuckians are talking away—but to whom? They have these headphones on and you don’t know if they are talking to you, to themselves or just yakking into space. They don’t make eye contact with me and its confusing.
I finally get the attention of one Starbuckian by getting in her face. She gets mad of course. It is rude. Then she charges me more for the coffee, announcing that prices are going up—although not as much as the newspapers have suggested. That didn’t exactly molify me.
I wait for the ice coffee but don’t know where to stand. Sometimes they hand it to me where the cash registers are and sometimes I have to move into the crowd waiting for lattes. I wait and I wait. Until one of the other customers tells me that the ice coffee is sitting on the counter out of my sight. How long it was sitting there, I don’t know.
Then the 2% milk was empty.
Not a good consumer experience.
Contrast that to the Peet’s treatment I received in Portland over the weekend in the Hawthorne district. That was so great. No long long line. Terrific new blend of coffee of the day, served up just right. Nice conversation across the counter. Some extra milk for the organic cereal a friend had brought along. Table by the window.
And some gossip about how Starbucks bought up a small independent chain of local Portland coffee houses and closed it to end the competition. I don’t know if this is true but the mere fact that it was repeated to me says something about Starbucks reputation.
The Starbucks brand value rose from 91 to 88 on the latest list of the Top 100 Brands that just came out from Business Week and Interbrand. Judged by my own experience with poorer service and higher prices Starbucks is a brand cruising on past reputation, not current performance.
Where’s the nearest Peet’s?
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