Starbucks says, “We aren’t trying to over-charge you”

Jan 24, 2008

#Life#Rants and Raves

This is what I heard from the customer service representative for Starbucks today. He was just the kind of sweet talkin’ man that I believed him. Really. (Of course, I also believed Jesus came from a Virgin and my Dad didn’t know how to change the toilet paper so I may not be the best judge of character.)

Here’s how things played out:

A few days ago, I ordered my usual non-fat/sugar free blahblahblah. I was informed this is now a “skinny” latte. “Oh, skinny?” I giggle. Because really? Skinny Latte? Isn’t that a bit presumptuous? So I reapeat, “Fine, skinny, yes. That’s what I’d like.” It gets rung up at 4.15. “Yesterday it was 3.70” I tell the barista. “It’s promotional.”

Meanwhile I get my coffee and move on because I am easily distracted by very tiny people.

imageA few days later I go in and order a skinny latte, feeling all proud of myself for knowing the lingo. “4.15” the voice in the speaker says. I stall, in the drive through, scouring the menu for what I ordered. “Latte: 3.10. Syrup, (lists all syrups including Cinnamon Dolce, my fave) additional 35 cents.” Now, I happen to be good at math. Or rather, at least pretty decent at third grade math. So I add that up, give it some tax… “Shouldn’t that be about 3.65?” I ask. There is some static on the line. “Please pull forward, Ma’am.” So I do.

I go ‘round and ‘round explaining the whole thing: Latte and Syrup: 3.70 (she rings it in and tells me I was 5 cents off in my calculation. I figure that’s pretty great since taxes change almost by the minute). Cinnamon Dolce Latte: 4.15. She rings in a Skinny Vanilla Latte: 4.15. But a Nonfat Sugarfree Vanilla latte (same drink for those following along at home): 3.70.

Obviously, there’s been a major oversight.

The gal is lovely and nice and says, “hu, I never noticed that” and give me my drink with a nice pat on the back. Off I go.

Same thing different starbucks the next day. At this point I’m just going to make my case and see if I actually have a case to make.

I do.

imageSo I call up Starbucks because, honestly, forty cents difference for the exact same drink depending on the words you use is a pretty tricky way to run a business. And no, I haven’t read Their Book but I do know they pride themselves on finding a way to get people to pay four bucks for a cup of coffee whilst the nation complains about 3.00 per gallon gas prices. And yes, I’ve done the math on how much coffee costs per gallon and it’s considerably more than three bucks.

The customer service rep is nothing but nice and listens to my math babble. He admits it sounds like there’s an error and apologizes. (I’m sure he does this a million times a day for things that are not his fault. If that man is not married, he needs to be. He is The Perfect Husband and I hardly know him. But hearing, “You’re right, I’m sorry” can’t be a bad start.)  He offers me a $25 gift card for my trouble to help make up the cost of the drinks.

Babe? I’ve spent a hellofalot of money at Starbucks. In fact, I dare-say my children will be going to (gasp) public school because of it.

I’m not proud, I’m just saying.

I, again, ask how long it’ll take to “fix the error” and get a nice, “If it takes too long, just call us back.”


Meanwhile, I’m expecting a starbucks card in the mail that could easily be spent in a week’s time. The kicker? I don’t really like their skinny lattes. In fact, here’s the ingenuity of Starbucks, I don’t really like their coffee. But for some reason, I go. Often.

And like a meth addict, making my own at home doesn’t seem to cure me from the need of walking in to a Starbucks to see the pretty things I can’t afford.

Pretty things I won’t be able to purchase because I pay 4.15 for a 3.70 drink. And, frankly, who’s fault is that?

(Answer for those of you just waking up from reading this whole post: Mine)


  1. ugh. I know why I keep going back - and so do you - it’s the damn drive through. it’s one of the few places I can go and not drag a kid out of the car.

    By Dawn on 2008 01 25

  2. I have safely avoided Starbucks in my town, unless I need a New York Times.  Hysterical post, and since I have been seriously considering calling my local gas station over the new price of Dr. Pepper that only one location seems to be charging… I understand!

    By DBN on 2008 01 25

  3. There’s this drive-through Caribou Coffee by my house that I go to a couple of times a week and every time I go I order the exact same thing.  I never know what they’re going charge.  It’s always one of three prices.  I never question it though, I just handover the money.  And then as I’m driving away I think “I paid how much for this?  I don’t even like this stuff that much!”  Meth addict indeed.

    By Jen on 2008 01 25

  4. You have to send this to Starbucks Gossip!

    By mona on 2008 01 25

  5. I’ve given up figuring out their prices.  I got a gift card and set it up with auto reload.  I just pretend I don’t know what I’m spending there anymore.  I go in, I order, I give them the little card, I leave.  And, whenever my balance gets below $10… it just automatically bumps back up by $20 from my credit card.

    Isn’t that scary?

    By Colleen on 2008 01 25

  6. I’ve only had a few Starbucks coffees in my time, but do you know what they *are* good for? Free bags of used coffee grounds for your garden! Who can argue with free?

    By Sarah on 2008 01 25

  7. You are amazing for figuring this out.  The free coffee and tea at my office have finally broken me of my SBucks addiction, though it was all I could do not to go in this morning when I discovered the one near my office is finally open…

    By Heather on 2008 01 25

  8. I don’t get it.  I don’t drink coffee of any kind.  I don’t drink hot drinks of any kind.  So starbucks is a mystery to me. 

    In fact, we are JUST NOW getting one in our town.  I know.  How backwoods can you be to just now be getting a starbucks.  Apparently Stillwater, Oklahoma backwoods.

    By Sleeping Mommy on 2008 01 25

  9. I almost lost my mind there over cinnamon vs. cinnamon dolce lattes.  I thought that if I could get a cinn. latte for the cost of latte and syrup, then the cinnamon dolce no whip should cost the same as the cinn. latte, because it’s latte and syrup still, right?  And the latte and syrup was $0.50 or so less than the dolce.  Some of the baristas got it right away, and rang it in my way, but most of them just argued with me in that non-confrontational voice.  Now I drink caramel macchiatos.  Good for you for calling them and giving them hell!

    By mamasutra on 2008 01 25

  10. Mrs. Flinger you are a genious!  I have been gong lately and ordering the new “skinny Latte” and never noticing I am paying more for the same farking drink I always ordered.  F them at Starbucks.

    By Laura on 2008 01 25

  11. I get the same exact drink every time I go there and am charged a different price every time.  Kinda makes me want to call and see if I can get a gift card *blushes*

    By Andy on 2008 01 25

  12. SERIOUSLY?  That seems low-down dirty and sneaky to me.  Look at YOU Mrs Flinger girl detective!!!

    By bananas on 2008 01 25

  13. I am such a penny pincher when it comes to coffee that I always mentally add up what my drink should cost and then also add the 10% for tax so I am ready to fight the fight when I get up there and they tell me otherwise. I have found that if you don’t fall victim to ordering their featured drinks and just spell out what you want you indeed do save money.

    My favorite is when I am ordering milk for my kid, 1.10 for a kid’s milk, but if I ask for it slightly warmed (yes I know I shouldn’t be warming my 18 month olds milk) it is suddenly a steamer and they charge 1.80. I fight it every time and usually win, because really how hard is it to pour 8 ounces of milk out of one of your warmed canisters into a cup rather than having to grab cold milk out of your fridge. So annoying.

    But I too keep going back. I am an addict.

    By andrea on 2008 01 25

  14. I’m not a coffee drinker.  I’m a devout follower in the church of Diet Dr. Pepper.  And very rarily do I find myself inside a Starbuck’s.

    One rarity was about 2 weeks ago and I got the White Mocha.  Seriously I think that while I sat in that store, I was being secretly brainwashed and actually given some sort of secret narcotic concotion because ever since then I find myself wanting another one!!  I’ll drive by and I can literally hear myself say…

    “It’s just a quick stop…It’s just a quick little pick me up…It’s just a nice little thing that you deserve…It’s just a wonderful way to warm up on a cold day…”

    It’s just liquid cocaine in a cup and it can’t be refused!!!

    By starshine on 2008 01 25

  15. OK in case I haven’t told you yet today. You freaking Crack. Me. Up.

    By supermama on 2008 01 25

  16. I’ve had a ‘skinny latte!’

    I didn’t notice the price difference, but Starbucks is something I barely get once a month or so! 

    How funny!

    By LeannIAm on 2008 01 25

  17. Please, let us know if you actually get the gift card in the mail!  It may encourage the rest of us to step forward when we find out that some companies are just bad at math.  smile

    By Andrea on 2008 01 25

  18. The price for a iced dunkin donuts coffee changes everyday in a similar “huh” fashion.  I might just make a call today….free stuff…maybe?!?

    By Skyzi on 2008 01 25

  19. Wow, that is crazy. They are charging you 40 cents more because skinny sounds better than non-fat. I wouldn’t have caught that but I seldom go to Starbucks. I prefer the local coffee shops or Its a Grind.

    By Someone Being Me on 2008 01 25

  20. Dude, I could go for a venti mocha frappachino right now.

    Anybody have $25?

    Love ya Flinger!

    By Mrs Fussypants on 2008 01 25