Ask 50 people what the number 1 rule in business is and you’ll likely get 50 different responses. Regardless, I’m sure most would agree that “Don’t Promise Your Customers Something You Can’t Deliver” is high up on the list of “don’ts.”
Now, I preface my forthcoming complaint with 1 caveat:
I greatly admire Starbucks for jumping on new media, technologies, platforms and generally attempting to keep the brand evolving alongside consumers. Be it with unbranded stores, partnering with Klout, the legendary My Starbucks Idea, or being the first major brand to tout a Foursquare Promotion in which Mayors supposedly receive special promotions or discounts at specific location at which they reign (this being the subject of my imminent rant), they clearly see the value in the primacy and innovative thinking that dominate successful modern marketing.
As a Social Media Marketer, Community Manager, Creative Technologist, and Digital Trendhunter (yes, I AM all of those things, so bite me), I am quite familiar with the territory and how difficult it must be to brave the unknown and forge ahead in spite of landmines and obstacles that saturate the landscape. Understanding this, I will happily grant brands the latitude to explore new ideas and forgiveness for blunders that occur under noble (at least for marketing standards) intentions. But in the case I’m about to discuss, we’re closer to false advertising than we are to easily dismissed road bumps in a beta program.
That said, the aforementioned programs are worth shit if no one at Starbucks is actually aware of what’s going on. Case in point, this morning I happened upon a Starbucks which I routine (I’m verbing that word, as opposed to say, “frequent”).
Having only been there a handful of times, I didn’t think that “Checking In” on foursquare would have any impact on my quest for the elusive Mayorship, but lo and behold, while standing there on line, boom, I was crowned mayor and notified of my reward.
I was entitled to a $1 discount on any Frappuccino.
And so, with a stupid ass grin plastered on my face, I walked up to the Barista and kindly asked for the frap, with discount, courtesy of the promotion and showed her my phone with the corresponding messaging displayed. She had no idea what I was talking about. Neither did the manager. The convo went as follows (not verbatim, but essentially this is what happened):
Me: Hi, I’d like a Grande Caramel Frapp with the $1 Foursquare Mayorship Discount. Do you need to see the phone? Here [Showed her the phone].
Barista: Um, I’m not sure if we do that, hold on [Gets manager].
Me: Hi, Do you do the Foursquare promotion for mayors? [Showed him my phone].
Manager: What’s foursquare? I never got that memo, sorry.
Consequently, I left, quite unhappy, and walked straight into the Dunkin Donuts around the corner (though they screwed up my order, at least the didn’t renege on any promises.
After Tweeting my incredibly frustrating and disappointing experience, I found that I was not the only one to encounter such ineptitude. This was sent to me by a twitter friend, Cassie:
Every weekday morning I go to the same Starbucks. Not only is it convenient but, they know me there and are always friendly and consistent. While I’m waiting for my drink, I usually check in on Foursquare. I have about 30 checkins in the past two months and I’ve been the mayor for several months now and since where I live (Albany, NY) isn’t really the mecca of social media, I doubt that anyone will oust me any time soon. Although I’ve been the mayor for this long, I hadn’t yet tried to use my $1 off a Frappaccino until this weekend.
I stopped by my regular Starbucks on Sunday morning and I ordered my normal hot drink and a Frappaccino and then said “Also, I’m the Foursquare mayor here. What do I need to show you to get my $1 off?” The look that the barista gave me when I said this was sheer confusion and dismay…like I had spoken to her in some kind of alien language. I then proceed to show her the screen that said I was the mayor, the coupon that pops up on all Starbucks locations and generally try to explain how Foursquare works and that this is a nationwide promotion. She was more than confused by all of this and kept mentioning that she would need a promo code in order to give the discount. There was another barista working who also said he had never heard of the promotion or Foursquare. I was starting to get annoyed and the barista probably picked up on this and offered to give me the $1 off anyway. She took copious notes and I told her just to Google it and she would see the press release from Starbucks. I paid, took my drinks and left.
I went back this morning (as usual) and asked the two ladies that I see every morning if they knew about the promotion. Both of them said they had not heard of it. Thankfully, I don’t really like Frappaccinos.
All the best,
Which brings me to a very big WTF Starbucks?
In addition to an angry ‘tip,’
I’ve tweeted the @Starbucks account 2x since this egregious communication breakdown with no response. Which brought about this post.
I’m very torn here – I want to just not care, it’s only a dollar, and like Cassie, I’m not particularly fond of Frappuchinos. But as someone who’s job it is to devise and advise on programs like these, such problems are simply unacceptable. Right? It’s not like this is a secret promotion they’re running. Just look at how many outlets have covered it!
Where do you guys weigh in here?