Local Starbucks Fights the Ghetto Latte

Now that it’s getting cold outside hot coffee is starting to sound good to me again.  I usually only drink hot drinks in the winter while preferring cold any other time.  I’ve enjoyed iced coffee all summer since its easy to make using a concentrate I get at the local store.

meh_coffeeRemembering I had some money on my Starbucks account I stopped at the location near my office.  It’s been a while since I’ve been in here because the service is well below average.  They seem to dedicate all of their staff activity to the drive-thru and, even today, they were serving 3-4 people in the drive-thru to every one person in the store.

After I ordered my plain coffee & walked over to the condiment bar for a splash of half-and-half.  Wait a minute, the stainless steel thermos is missing!  The guy standing next to me saw what I was looking for and said “you have to ask them for it”.

So back to the pickup counter I go and I waited to get someone’s attention.  The employees were too busy tripping over each other to get the orders out the little window to notice me standing there.  After a few moments I got one of the worker bees attention.  “Cream?” I asked.  She was already reading my mind and grabbed a little paper cup and proceeded to pour out a couple of ounces of the heavy moo juice.   I asked, “do you have one you’d like me to put out on the station”, thinking I would be a nice guy and do them a favor.  “No” she said.  “We keep it back here now so it doesn’t run out as fast”.

Then it hit me.  The Ghetto Latte has gotten so bad they have to ration out the dairy to keep people from cheating the system.  I assure you this is a real thing.  I’ve seen it time and time again where people turn a couple of shots of espresso over ice into one (or in some cases when they ask for an extra cup) two Lattes saving themselves a few dollars in the process.

cheap_coffeeWay to stick it to the man cheap skate.  I’d be willing to bet that’s your idling car parked crooked in the handicapped spot too.  Bonus points if you’re talking on your speaker phone while oblivious to everyones personal space the entire time you’re in the store.

So once again, those who take advantage of things make it inconvenient for others who go with the flow.  Say what you want about Starbucks.  I know it’s over priced and there are better options out there.  In this case it was a choice between office coffee (usually empty), a small Keurig we have in our area (meh, I don’t get the pod thing), or something slightly better.

I’m curious if this practice of keeping the half-and-half behind the counter is a isolated thing at this particular Starbucks or if this is a common practice at other coffee shops too.  Anyone else witness a Ghetto Latte in the making?  I’d love to hear your stories!

No Saturday Mail delivery? Fine by me!

Postal-truck-crash

Earlier this week the United States Postal Service (USPS) announced it would stop Saturday mail delivery in August and that’s just fine by me.  I say cut it down to 2-3 days a week.

I go to my mailbox a few times a week and it’s full of advertising inserts, credit card offers and stuff I never even look at.  I pay my bills online and I rarely, if ever, send any kind of written correspondence, and I’m sure I’m not alone.  As a matter of fact, I hate all of the waste generated by direct mail marketing.  I didn’t ask for this stuff but I have to take care of getting rid of it…

The USPS is supposed to be able to pay for itself with the fees it charges to use its service but after being “forced” to take a HUGE loan to pre-fund its union pension program it’s become under water to a tune of $15-billion.  Yet another example of how unions are not good for business anymore (that’s another post all together).

So far I have not read a lot of complaints about the USPS decision.  I think it’s just a sign of the times and probably not the first reduction of service we’ll see in our lifetime.

Swipe to Over Sleep

20130108-220254.jpgAfter using the iPhone for a while I’ve become quite fond of it but with any device there tends to be a few quirks. Case in point; the iPhone alarm clock…

The Apple iOS starts just about all phone interactions with a swipe of the finger. That swipe becomes second nature to a lot of us because we’re unconsciously swiping to unlock our phones all day long.

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So guess what happens when your alarm is going off at 6 am and you grab your phone to silence it (in my case hit snooze a few times)? That instinctive swipe motion turns the alarm OFF! You have to press a small red button titled “Snooze” to silence he phone for nine minutes. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve accidentally disabled my iPhone alarm in the morning. I think I’m finally getting the hang of it though…

Who came up with the nine minute snooze threshold anyway? Three of the four alarm clocks I’ve ever owned all had the nine minute snooze. The fourth one had a seven min snooze. I want a 10 minute snooze so I can easily calculate how many times I can hit it before I REALY need to get out of bed…

Open Letter to Jack (in-the-Box)

OK Jack, we need to talk…

Having heard about you years ago (1993 to be exact) and becoming impressed with your ability to turn a disaster into an opportunity I was excited to hear you would be expanding your operation setting up shop in the Indianapolis area.

Immediately after expressing my excitement on a popular social networking site (Facebook, have you heard of it and seen how news travels on it?), that excitement was quickly tainted by friends and acquaintances who have befriended you in the past.

“Not good” they said.  “Nothing special” I was told.  Seriously?  How could this be?  A fast food chain who avoided collapse and is currently in the midst of a Midwest expansion must have something good going for it.  If it’s not the food than what is it?  Do you just have the best marketing department in the business?

When your first Indianapolis area location opened there were reports of huge lines.  I took this as a good sign.  People usually like change and having a new fast food option in the stagnated Indianapolis market was surely welcomed.  Then I heard you would be opening up a store in my hometown.  The location was perfect (not to mention a prime piece of real estate that’s been vacant for years) and would surely draw the crowds like your other new locations…

Then you finally opened.  I drove by a few times, not in the mood to eat at the time, and was surprised at the lack of business.  Maybe it was just the off-peak times I was in the area.

One day last week I woke up and was in the mood for something a little more substantial than a bowl of cereal.  I thought to myself “time to give breakfast a try at Jack-in-the-Box!”  I thought it because saying it out loud would have been weird…

I drove across town and hit the drive thru.  Again, no real line of cars like I was expecting…  I was greeted by a friendly voice behind the speaker grill who asked if I would like to try a loaded-something-or-other.  I declined her offer and requested a simple Sausage Egg and Cheese Biscuit.

Then, I sat behind 2 cars for what felt like an hour…  I love the “open kitchen” concept where I can see the employees making my food while I wait to pull forward, that’s a nice touch.  Once again I was greeted by a friendly member of your staff & was handed my food.  I drove the 5 minutes back to the house & that’s when this story turns ugly…

Have you ever stopped at a gas station and been tempted to buy one of those breakfast sandwiches in the warmer next to the cash register?  They’re usually on “sale” for 2/$2.22 or something like that.  Well I’ve bought one (a few times actually) and they’re not half bad, especially for the price.  They’re always a lot hotter than you expect and you have to wait a few minutes to eat them or risk a 2nd degree burn (not a good thing at 8am).

Well Jack, your Sausage Egg and Cheese Biscuit was cold.  I’m not talking a few minutes in a bag in a car on the way home cold.  I’m talking about a partially frozen biscuit bottom.  Not only was it cold but I think you ran across the street the day before, bought the remaining breakfast sandwiches from the gas station, and froze them as a backup in case you ran out of product during the “morning rush”.  I think you were frantically microwaving said sandwich during my ridiculously long wait in the drive thru line.

In a blind taste test I don’t think I (or a veteran road warrior) could tell the difference between the Sausage Egg and Cheese Biscuit from the gas station and one from your store.  Oh, wait I know how to tell… yours is cold and costs twice as much!

I’m disappointed in you Jack.  I’m disappointed that I was holding out for a new fast food option.  I’m disappointed that your friendly staff could not feel the block of ice in their hand as they put the product in the bag.  And finally Jack, I’m disappointed that my first experience with your food has me wishing another chain took over that vacant space.

I really hope you read this and take it to heart.  If you continue to suffer this kind of quality control your expansion in this market is going to suffer.  Sure I could have called and complained.  I could have driven back and asked for a refund.  That would not have fixed the problem.  The problem was the blown first impression.

I hear you have good (cheap) taco’s but I’m not sure I want to risk it again.  Besides it’s probably just a reheated version of the place down the street…

Jack in the Box on Urbanspoon

Apple Customer Support

Had to call Apple customer support this week for a client who had some equipment stolen. I was VERY impressed with how they handled the call. VERY helpful and efficient. Good example for some of the others to follow (I’m talking to you HP, Cisco & Microsoft!!)…

Not often I have ANYTHING to positive to say about support so I thought I would at least pass it along.

If You See Something, Say Something

Oh great, the “If You See Something, Say Something” (IYSSSS) campaign is launching PSA’s to get the public even more worked up…

I started seeing the IYSSSS billboards around Indianapolis prior to this year’s Super Bowl.  The funny thing is, at least to me, the toll-free number they give is not using an acronym or anything so the chances of someone actually remembering it is slim.  It’s OK, that’s what 911 is for!

Cowboys & Aliens?

I’m about 1-hour into this nearly 2-hour movie and I have yet to get hooked. How in the world can such stars like Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford get involved with something like this?

I’m committed now to watch the rest of the movie just to see how it ends.  Probably going to wish I got those 2-hours back…  I’ll let you know how it goes…