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(The Consumerist)   Starbucks: Using mind control to get you hot under the collar   (consumerist.com ) divider line 34
    More: Obvious, Starbucks, Harvard Business Review, coffee drink  
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2500 clicks; posted to Business » on 10 May 2012 at 8:33 AM (3 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-05-10 08:45:38 AM  
Not that I go there terribly often, but I don't give a shiat about being corrected in public.

"Medium."
"Don't you mean tall?"
"The one in the middle."

That exchange happens every time I go to Starbucks.
 
2012-05-10 08:57:20 AM  
"Large, black and sweet. Like my women."


They don't "fix it" for me.
 
2012-05-10 09:27:25 AM  
Coffee tastes like ass. Still not sure why people drink it.
 
2012-05-10 09:27:27 AM  
all sorts of vague terms for sizes

You mean like, Small, medium or Large? Yeah I can see how that would confuse the douche behind the counter.
 
2012-05-10 09:55:58 AM  
Is there any proof for this besides some asshole's assertion in the article?

Like a Starbucks training manual, or testimony from former Starbucks coffee pourers?
 
2012-05-10 09:57:55 AM  

t3knomanser: Not that I go there terribly often, but I don't give a shiat about being corrected in public.

"Medium."
"Don't you mean tall?"
"The one in the middle."

That exchange happens every time I go to Starbucks.


There are three sizes of coffee. What's more error prone, my asking for small, medium, or large, or my pretending I can understand La Traviata?
 
2012-05-10 10:00:46 AM  
I took a sociology course in college, so I'm an expert on what I'm about to say:

It's a ritual, it's not mind control. the same thing happens in McDonald's and Burger King - you don't go into McDonald's and order a "hamburger, medium, with romaine, provalone, and heirloom tomato". You order a Big Mac, and you'll like it. You also don't order a sack of sliders.

Those who don't follow the ritual are outsiders, or worse - heretics. Those who follow the ritual down to the most minute, obscure rules within the overall ritual set are seen as the most elite of that particular "culture".
 
2012-05-10 10:01:58 AM  
I just ask for a bolus, and eventually crap myself and fall over.
 
2012-05-10 10:19:37 AM  
That's one seriously dumb article. You don't learn to order a "venti" because you need your caffeine fix that one second faster. If people had a caffeine addiction that bad they would be getting themselves in serious auto wrecks on the way there or hit by cars while trying to run across the street without checking for cars. And the second part about being corrected in public is ridiculous. Almost nobody in that line is listening to your interaction with the cashier... sorry, barista. They're looking at their text messages and looking at crackbook. The ones that are paying attention won't think anything of it when you say "I'll have a medium" and the cashier (sorry, barista) says "A tall?"

Same thing happens everywhere. It's basic conditioning. When you speak the language that others around you speak, life is easier for everyone. Happens to me when I travel, both work and play.
 
2012-05-10 10:44:50 AM  
Order a Venti with extra-hot steamed milk at Tim Hortons

Order a large double-double with a cruller at Starbucks.

encrypted-tbn3.google.com
 
2012-05-10 10:54:19 AM  
Straying away from Small-Medium-Large has nothing to do with efficiency and everything to do with marketing, trying to make you feel like you are getting something special.
 
2012-05-10 11:14:27 AM  
Quad latte, largest size.

"Venti is for douchebags" when I am corrected. Then the next people in line have to either conform to Starbucks lingo and be linked to douchebags. Customer training right back in your face.

People would rather be corrected than be douchebags.
 
2012-05-10 11:44:28 AM  
I just put my mug on the counter and say "Coffee."

Buck - o - six, every-time.
 
2012-05-10 11:52:29 AM  

t3knomanser: "Medium."
"Don't you mean tall?"
"The one in the middle."


I don't mind using Starbucks's lingo (or other places'; it makes for a better chance of my order being accurately interpreted, especially at drive-thrus).

There are a few places that do have a naming practice that bothers me: having "medium" being the smallest size available, in direct contradiction of the meaning of the word "medium".
 
2012-05-10 01:16:38 PM  
I thought they named their sizes in the italian fashion, so they would elevate their brand from mere 'coffee slingers' to 'refined experience connoisseurs'?

I know they translate the order i place into some other format, but i have never been directly corrected...i guess if they did i would engage them in a discussion about pedantic adherence to meaningless terminology and if their correcting me is some small means of returning to them some power they clearly do not have normally. But like i said, i have never had this opportunity and hopefully never will.

/starbucks is too expensive anyway
//haven't gone to one in many months
///bank account thanks me
 
2012-05-10 01:40:49 PM  
I've never had a problem with any Starbucks when I place my order. Granted, I typically just get something like a large iced coffee or large mocha, but the only place that ever gave me any of that "Do you mean venti?" bs was a fake Starbucks in a hotel. That once instance was a five minute conversation about how I did in fact know that large meant venti in Starbucksspeak but that I just didn't give a damn.
 
2012-05-10 02:19:22 PM  
The only Starbucks word I understand: No.
 
2012-05-10 02:55:11 PM  

RoyBatty: There are three sizes of coffee. What's more error prone, my asking for small, medium, or large, or my pretending I can understand La Traviata?


I came here today needing a laugh. You have provided that laugh.

Thank you.
 
2012-05-10 03:16:22 PM  

SniperJoe: I've never had a problem with any Starbucks when I place my order. Granted, I typically just get something like a large iced coffee or large mocha, but the only place that ever gave me any of that "Do you mean venti?" bs was a fake Starbucks in a hotel. That once instance was a five minute conversation about how I did in fact know that large meant venti in Starbucksspeak but that I just didn't give a damn.


From my experiences, most Starbucks employees don't either - the vast majority understand "small, medium, large" and realize not everyone orders in Starbuckese.

/I suspect most secretly hate customers who order in Starbuckese
 
2012-05-10 03:23:08 PM  
I just go with the flow and order a "Venti," though lately I have been going with the "large" at McDonalds.
 
2012-05-10 04:25:53 PM  
Ask for a "short", if you really want to tick off the clerk.

It exists, they just don't like to admit they left it off the menu board in order to get you to spend just a little more on each transaction.

pressvision.files.wordpress.com
 
2012-05-10 04:35:17 PM  

RoyBatty: t3knomanser: Not that I go there terribly often, but I don't give a shiat about being corrected in public.

"Medium."
"Don't you mean tall?"
"The one in the middle."

That exchange happens every time I go to Starbucks.
There are three sizes of coffee. What's more error prone, my asking for small, medium, or large, or my pretending I can understand La Traviata?


My post might explain the confusion. There are actually four sizes available, making "tall" kindof/sortof a medium.
 
2012-05-10 05:29:44 PM  
I'll say whatever it takes to get caffeine into my blood stream. I would prefer shorter one syllable words but whatever.
 
2012-05-10 05:59:20 PM  
In a tangentially related rant, I've noticed that places like Subway or Chipotle, where you order your thing to your specifications, the people always want to rush you along this factory line, to get the order of the person behind you. But here's the thing: There's a bottleneck at the register. If you have to shout down the line for the burrito you're working on, just farking chill for a minute. Us people right in front of you still have to pay before we can leave. Or do we? You're not being efficient, you're just making things needlessly uncomfortable for those of us you force to stand in a Human Centipede-esque proximity to each other.
 
2012-05-10 08:26:56 PM  
When I worked there we were specifically told not to correct customers who didn't use the Starbucks drink size names. We had to call the drinks using Starbucks terms but hey, we worked there. If you say small, medium, or large and the barista corrects you, they're being a douche. Or possibly, you're taking them reading back your order in company terms as "a correction", in which case you need to unclench a little.

Obligatory drink size explanation: In Ye Olden Days, before everyone expected beverages to come in cups the size of their head, there were two sizes, Short (8oz) and Tall (12oz). Then people kept wanting bigger drinks, so they added Grande (16oz). Short, tall, grande makes a certain amount of sense at least.

Then people were like "MOAR MOAR MOAR" so they created the Venti (20oz hot, 24oz cold, don't ask me why). At the same time, numbers were getting crowded on the menu board so they bumped off the Short. It's still available for hot drinks at least, it's just not listed. That's how they ended up with the nonsensical "tall, grande, venti" crap.

Strangely I never hear anyone complain about the weird size names at Coldstone Creamery. WTF is up with those?
 
2012-05-10 10:50:07 PM  

Dragonblink: At the same time, numbers were getting crowded on the menu board so they bumped off the Short.


LOL! As if they couldn't manage to squeeze it in there, instead of inventing several dozen other varieties of beverage that they somehow did manage to find room for! Do we really need individual flavors (like "coffee") listed?

media.tumblr.com

They could fit calorie counts, but not the word "short".
 
2012-05-11 06:21:03 AM  

t3knomanser: Not that I go there terribly often, but I don't give a shiat about being corrected in public.

"Medium."
"Don't you mean tall?"
"The one in the middle."

That exchange happens every time I go to Starbucks.


Same here...

"Large."
"You mean Venti?"
"Whatever you want to call it is up to you"

It's a small thing, but it really irks me.

FTA: "In the end, that desire to not be corrected by the people making your coffee..."

I consider myself to be correcting them every time, so I guess that's not working out for them. I have found that the Starbucks-in-name-and-supplies-only locations at Targets don't seem to care. You say "Large", they make you a farking large and don't quibble about the language.
 
2012-05-11 01:24:16 PM  
I use the names they use. I'm not such a stick in the mud as to refuse to use alternate words just because it's kinda dumb. Why not just go along with it? Do you enjoy having to take an extra 3 seconds for them to confirm your order? Does stroking your ego as a rugged individualist who refuses to bow down to their nomenclature tyrany get you off that much? You have time to figure out what you want while waiting in line, it's not like it's complicated to understand.

Sounds like the kind of people who get mad over non-Americans spelling words "wrong" by "adding" extra u's.
 
2012-05-11 01:42:35 PM  
Wow, what a load of sh*t. It's this EXACT type of thinking that translates directly into poor customer service. Pavlovian manipulation works great for animals, but, believe it or not, people aren't dogs. If you treat people as such, they'll see right through your scheme and just grow annoyed and alienated. Starbucks didn't gain an edge because it forced people to use different lingo: their coffee is highly caffeinated, more so than the coffee you'd find at most other cafes. I'm sure if people were frequently corrected, most would avoid the store lest they be pestered.

Seriously, how much of a disconnected sociopath must you be to not grasp the simple, tried and true method of "don't be a dick to your customer"? EVERY organization that saw fit to put this philosophy to practice has achieved overwhelming success. DO NOT condescend to your customers: they ARE NOT expendable commodities, they're the whole freaking point. The customer isn't always right, but that doesn't mean you can corral them like sheep. If you do, they'll take their business elsewhere to those who don't.

Yet these wealthy, bourgeois dipsh*ts, who have never actually "worked" a day in their lives will never understand this. Academics and upper management types like Anne Morriss are sometimes so sheltered from the dregs of society and thus the lower, minimum wage functions of business that they fail to understand that other people are human beings just like themselves. Customers aren't servants or employees, they're just people. You can incentivize them, but only suggestively. They aren't here for the sole purpose of serving you by giving you their money.

GOD shiat LIKE THIS PISSES ME OFF.
 
2012-05-11 05:30:02 PM  
Professor Horatio Hufnagel
If you treat people as such, they'll see right through your scheme and just grow annoyed and alienated.

I really wish that this was true. It's an extremely rare occasion that I see an advertisement that actually tells you something about the product/service being advertised. Most just try to associate their brand with something positive or, failing that, something memorable. People certainly don't consciously reason "A particular beverage and a sexy lady! These things are necessarily related!" We do it automatically. We've been doing it since long before we had the intelligence to successfully do otherwise. Our associative tools are heavily ingrained and are not going anywhere. The best we can do is be aware of them, which is rare even when we're aware that we should be aware of them.

FTFA:So rather than train its employees into how to deal with customers using all sorts of vague terms for sizes and types of coffee drinks, Starbucks realized it was easier to train customers to use a single system of ordering.

This is the part I don't get. Customers couldn't understand having "Small/Medium/Large" sizes, but "tall/grande/venti" resolved misunderstanding? Or did they have absolutely no naming scheme, then were surprised when the orders were vague? I guess I'll buy that people might extend the former naming scheme and, say, assume that there might be an "Extra Large", but I can't imagine that this would be a justification for an unconventional naming scheme.

It's effectiveness is debatable, but their reasons seem clear. Custom language is used to create a vague sense of community. The names imply large sizes. The names imply an exotic and upscale origin. Use of the naming convention outside of the store is free advertising.
 
2012-05-11 06:54:47 PM  
Hi, I'd like a large coffee please.
Venti?
God bless you.
No, did you want a Venti?
A tall "Venti" ... sure.
Tall or Venti?
P- E- N- I- S goes into the anus to rupture intestines. The more a man does this the more he'll be a fatality or a homicider.
That'll be $3.07.
Mi piace molto LARGE ... USA, USA!
 
2012-05-12 11:56:39 PM  
So I used to work at Starbucks.

You guys all know that when you are getting an espresso drink at starbucks that:

Short = 1 shot + whatever
Tall = 1 shot + more whatever
Grande = 2 shots + whatever
Venti = 2 shots + more whatever $$$

This is not necessarily the case at other places.
 
2012-05-13 04:16:29 AM  
Just order by cup size: 8oz, 12oz, 16oz, 20oz. Universal and impossible to fark up.
 
2012-05-13 12:53:02 PM  

not_an_indigo: Just order by cup size: 8oz, 12oz, 16oz, 20oz. Universal and impossible to fark up.


Don't you mean 236.5882375ml, 354.88235625ml, 473.176475ml, 591.47059375ml?
 
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