Second Cup: Everything Starbucks isn’t

Second Cup is the Canadian Starbucks. I frequented it during Uni days and became addicted to one of their signature lattes, Caramel Coretto. If you’ve seen some of my past posts, you’d come to the conclusion that I’ve become a professional complainer, aka Kvetcher. I got inspired by watching a couple of MarketPlace shows on CBC, which cracks down all the different ways consumers, are being cheated without their knowledge. That’s why I’ve been going after all the companies that are quick to collect the money but fail to provide the service they promise to do so in their Ads. It is never about getting back the money they owe me, or getting free stuff but about Principle.

I also watched the Undercover Boss episode  for Second Cup and admired the CEO Stacey Mowbry’s resolution to re-brand the company’s image to making it all about customer satisfaction. Most companies are all talk and no walk however  that wasn’t the case with Second Cup. About two months ago one of the sales associate charged me for whip cream when it’s always been free and I sent  a e-mail to their customer care. Within two days, they sent me this reply:

Good afternoon ,

We are sorry that you had a poor quality experience at some of our cafés. At Second Cup, we are the coffee company that is committed to caring, by offering superior quality products and service in a warm and friendly environment. Anytime this isn’t available we have failed to live up to our own standards.  We would like to thank you for sharing this experience with us and bringing this issue to our attention. Guest input is vital to the maintenance and enforcement of the quality that is The Second Cup.

In response to your feedback, all of our beverages are based on strict recipes making it that our products are uniformed no matter which café you go to or under the circumstances where a guest requests to have a change in the way that the beverage is made.   I wish to enquire with you further about the café location in question as I cannot seems to locate the address of the café you indicated in your email as I wish to contact the Franchise Partner of the cafe in question to address your concerns directly with regards to you received. As well, I have notified the Regional Manager of this location, for prompt follow up as well as additional training where necessary. Our Caramel Corretto standard recipe is typically made with Creamy Microfoam milk with the caramel lattice on the top but should any of our guests wish to have some whipping cream on the top of their beverage, the Sales Associate should be more than accommodating and not charge for the Whip Cream on any of our European beverages and it is for this reason as I wish to touch base with the Franchise Partners of the cafés in question.

Once again, we would like to thank you for taking the time to email us and I wish to also enquire with you if once I have addressed your feedback with the Franchise Partners of the café if I can suggest that they contact you to help in rectifying the situation as they take matters like these of great importance and they do like to touch base with all guests who experience unfortunate situations to invite you back into café.  I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience and have a wonderful day.

Kindest Regards,

Customer Care Team

The Second Cup Ltd.

I replied with my e-mail and phone number. The next day, I got a call from the store manager who apologized personally and offered a free coretto. I never collected it as it would mean that I’d be revealing I was the one who made the complain and didn’t want the workers to associate my face with one who had made them look bad. Also, as I said before it was never about getting anything free.

About three days after I sent the e-mail  as I was waking to work one morning I saw the CEO Stacey Mowbery walking out of the Second Cup that I had made a complain about. So they seem to have taken my complaint seriously.

A couple of days later, my friend and I went to get corettos. As the sales associate was taking our orders, the store manager made a public announcement to all the employees.

‘Listen up everyone, we do not charge extra for whip cream on corettos, a customer was charged and got very angry.’

It was hilarious that he said it right when I was ordering, not knowing that I was that angry customer that made the complaint.

It was refreshing to see a company that really does care about its customers amongst  the million others that are leeches awaiting to suck the last penny, or now nickel [pennies have been discontinued in Canada] from their consumers.

Brits & Beardos make the Best Barista

From May 3-12 Starbucks was having a promo for half off frappes from 3-5PM , supposedly the ‘Happy Hour’. Technically it should be hourS since it was two hours… Anyway, normally the tall frappes cost $4.15 which is actually enough to get you a coffee, donut and a bagel from Tim Hortons. Last year I used to go to Starbucks at lunch with co-workers about 3 times a week and recklessly wasted money on lattes and frappes. This year I’ve realized that this is a luxury I can only afford to have on rare occasions.

Last month I bought a Groupon for Starbucks, $10 gift card for $5. This meant I could get  two frappes for the price of one. Yes I am a bargain hunter, AKA Brown! I had bought one frappe with the gift card and had $5.85 left over just in time for this promo, which meant I could get more than 2 frappes for the price of one.

On the first day of the promo, one of my co workers and I got to Starbucks by 2:55. There were others also there for the frappes, we all had to wait until 3 exactly so the registers will be ready to take our orders. 

The girl that took our orders didn’t even make eye contact, she was grim and when asking our name she ignored me when I spelled it for her and chicken scratched it onto the cup. Same thing happened to my co-worker. The person who made our drinks had trouble reading our names but we realized it was ours. As we were stepping out my co-worker heard the girl who took our order say, ‘It’s not my fault if they have weird names’ … which is appalling to say the least. Toronto is the most multicultural city in the world, so chances are almost every other person walking in would have ‘weird names’. It was crowded, we had to get back to work so we didn’t bother making a scene.

I went to that same location 5 times during the promo and had the same girl serve us twice more. She wasn’t any better and the one time she made the drink my co-worker’s wasn’t mixed properly and all the syrup was at the bottom.

There is an upside to everything and if it wasn’t for this girl’s awful customer service we wouldn’t have noticed the two people that did provide us exceptional service. On the third day the girl who took our order was a Brit and her name was PIPPA (I kid you not, that’s what was written on her name tag . She asked for the spelling of our names and wrote it correctly on the cup. On top of that her British accent made me feel like I was a lady being served in Downton Abbey. Wait, it gets better. The dude that was making our drinks is one of the happiest star bucks employee I’ve ever seen. He’s renown for his epic beard that at one point his name tag was, ‘Mr.Beard’ that’s how awesome it was.

In conclusion, I won’t be returning to Starbucks anytime in the near future or probably not until this promo rolls around again. Even if it does I may go to another location, but in general Starbucks servers are notorious for being stuck up. Also, I came to the realization that Timmy’s Ice Cap tastes so much better than the frappes and for a lot less cost! So I feel like it’s my Canadian duty to resume my utmost loyalty towards Tim Hortons 🙂 

A word of advice to Starbucks: Either train your employees to not be culturally insensitive or just stop asking people for their names. Tim Hortons and McDonalds get a whole lot more traffic than you and you don’t see them asking people for their names to butcher. 

P.S. If you are going to ask ‘How many Palestinians have I killed by having a Starbucks drink..’ I will in return ask ‘How many Bangladeshi’s have you killed by shopping at Wal Mart…’