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Starbucks: A Symbol of Selective Substandard Service?

Updated on June 2, 2013

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The First Complaint

A while ago, we had the following encounter at one particular Starbucks location. The following quote will give you an idea of how we are treated regularly by this seemingly bigoted woman named Anna at store #8303 at 10 S. Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale. I finally got tired of it, after mentioning her attitude to the manager on the day shift; and simply contacted the corp. office with a complaint in March of 2012. This is an excerpt of that complaint.

"The Assistant mgr of the store at night, Anna, is very rude, always has an attitude and generally makes us feel very unwelcomed there. If I were to describe her with one word, it would be "dismal." Every time we come in the store, she gives us this look like, "Oh, it's you again," or like she wishes we never came into the store. Her personality and manner of dealing with customers is not at all friendly. She doesn't seem like she enjoys the job, nor wants to be there. Once, my son was standing at the counter, and she approached him with this statement, "Hello! Is there something you need?" but it was stated sarcastically, as if she was asking him, "What are you doing over here," or "Why are you bothering me?"

Her comment today was to complain about us leaving our cups on the table at closing... We sometimes leave the cups, because we feel so rushed to get out of there because of her nasty, aggravated demeanor, that we don't even stop to try to put them away in the trash. But, cleaning up the store is part of her job responsibility, yet she complained to my son today about us leaving cups that she has to clean up....

We are frequent customers in the store during both the day and evening time, but we only have a problem in the evening with her. The daytime mgr is fantastic, and always smiling and friendly. She, on the other hand, is the polar opposite, just like night and day. She makes the experience of coming to the store very unpleasant, and we always feel uncomfortable whenever she is there. We actually don't want to go to the store because of her, and it is relatively close to our home and my job, so we do like to go there, as we enjoy our time there and generally meet very nice people, including most of the staff. She is the ugly exception, and a very poor reflection on the Starbucks name."

Expression Says Everything

Friendly Customer Service?

If this was the look that greeted you from, not a store clerk, but from an asst. mgr every time you walked into a particular store, would you feel welcome? Wouldn't you pick up on the fact that this person didn't like you or didn't want you in the store? Any time Anna happens to be working, this is the type of expression and attitude she greets my son and I with when we walk into the Starbucks store.

Starbuck's Response

"My name is Anjelika and I'm from Starbucks Customer Service.

I am really sorry that the assistant store manager display and provides such poor customer service. It is our mission to create inspired moments in each customer's day, and we definitely didn't live up to this expectation during your visit.

While I want to make sure this gets addressed at the store, I also understand how important it is to keep this confidential, so I assure you that your feedback will be shared anonymously with the store's management team.

I would like to invite you back for a better experience by sending you some coupons. I know this is not why you wrote us, but I recognize how frustrating this is. The coupons are good for any beverage, any size, anytime.

Thanks for giving us the opportunity to fix something that went wrong."

I never received any coupons. They claimed confidentiality on the complaint to the store manager, but when I went back to the store, Anna was looking at me all teary-eyed, and came over to tell me that per the manager, I could not use the internet there without purchasing something. I had already purchased something, but this is the issue she has attempted to raise in her defense, to justify her nasty behavior towards us.

Debit Card Purchases

Card Purchase Starbucks Corp0 5814
Plantation FL 33351
Card Purchase Starbucks Corp0 5814
Ft Ldrdle FL 33301
Card Purchase Starbucks Corp0 5814
Ft Ldrdle FL 33301
Card Purchase Starbucks Corp0 5814
Ft Ldrdle FL 33301
Card Purchase Starbucks Corp0 5814
Ft Ldrdle FL 33301
Card Purchase Starbucks Corp0 5814
Ft Ldrdle FL 33301
Card Purchase Starbucks Corp0 5814
Sunrise FL 33351
Card Purchase Starbucks Corp0 5814
Sunrise FL 33351
Card Purchase Starbucks Corp0 5814
Sunrise FL 33351
Card Purchase Starbucks Corp0 5814
Ft Ldrdle FL 33301
Card Purchase Starbucks Corp0 5814
Ft Ldrdle FL 33301
Card Purchase Starbucks Corp0 5814
Ft Ldrdle FL 33301
Card Purchase Starbucks Corp0 5814
Ft Ldrdle FL 33301
Card Purchase Starbucks Corp0 5814
Ft Ldrdle FL 33301
Card Purchase Starbucks Corp0 5814
Ft Ldrdle FL 33316

A Little Background

Last year, at the time I began my patronage at that store, I was unemployed. I came there to use the internet, as I was job hunting. As I said before, the day time manager has always been very polite and gracious. There were a few occasions prior to this complaint, where he had greeted me and was talking to me. I stated to him that I felt bad because I didn't always have the funds to make a purchase when I came to the store due to being unemployed at the time. He said it was OK and not to worry about it, and remained gracious.

However, I want to stress that I did make purchases at that store, both in cash and on my bank debit card. Below is a few of the debit card purchases. I never kept the cash receipts, but those purchases were far more than the ones on the card, at least 2-3 times as much.

If you look at the table above, the Ft. Lauderdale store purchases were done at her store. Again, the cash purchases exceed this, and I always try to get something if I have cash on me, even if it's only a banana for a buck. I may not have been able to get something every day that I went there, but I was not just freeloading as she has tried to accuse us of. Most of the time, by the time she arrives for her evening shift, I've been there for a while already, and have already purchased something. So her contention that I only come in to use the internet for free is a lie. But, her ice queen mistreatment of us didn't stop even after this first complaint was filed.

Cold As Ice

Later Developments

We hadn't been to the store in months, but we've been to many other stores; and never received the level of mistreatment and disrespect that we received from Anna. We basically stopped going there because of her. We just didn't want to deal with it, because we weren't about to continue to hold our tongues while being disrespected.

We normally pass the store weekly going to and from a group meeting, so we would look in the window while stopped at the traffic light in the evenings, to see if she was still there. We hadn't seen any signs of her for a while, so we actually came back into that same store where she works on 7/7/2012. None of the staff that was there that day, were rude to us; and we purchased some items ( in cash - a cookie & a Brownie) and sat down and relaxed in store for a while.

However, when we came into the store on 7/9/2012, Anna was present and shot us a dirty look. She then proceeded to go to the other employee Jeff, and make comments concerning us to him behind the counter. I saw all of this with my own eyes. It's not hard to tell when people have been discussing you, especially when their behavior demonstrates it.


Jeff - The Water Nazi.
Jeff - The Water Nazi.


We were barely there 10 minutes, and my son went to the counter to ask for a cup of water. This guy Jeff, that she had been whispering to; had started giving us this hard stare as she was telling him about us. So when my son went to the counter to ask for some water, he seized the opportunity to get back at us on Anna's behalf. He very rudely & loudly told my son, that the manager had previously told us that we could not use the internet without buying something. He made sure to be loud enough so that the entire store of customers could hear him. He refused to even give my son a cup of water unless we bought something first.

I know that they did not state this to any other customer that came in the store and sat down. Additionally, both Anna and Jeff always make sure to make their comments to my 16 year old son. They never say anything to me directly, but pick on my child every time. Not even the homeless people who wander into the store are treated this disrespectfully. Again, we hadn't even been in the store 10 minutes when this occurred. My son was ticked off, and came and sat down, telling me that he needed to sit down with me, before he went off on them.

Did I buy anything that day? No, I didn't. First of all, we were unaware that we had walked in about 15 minutes prior to them closing. Secondly, our habit when we come into any Starbucks is, we sit down and get comfortable for a while, and then we get up and purchase something. It's never been a problem anywhere else; only at this store with Anna, and now...Jeff as well. I mean, is there some rule that no one knows about, that says that customers have to purchase something the moment they walk in the door? I've never seen it. Oh. Perhaps that hidden rule only applies to us when Anna is running the store.

Tweedledee & Tweedledum
Tweedledee & Tweedledum

Extremely Unprofessional Behavior

Not only did Anna initiate this disrespect against us by the other employee, Jeff, but then she and Jeff proceeded to have a discussion about us with two customers at the counter. There were two bald, dumpy, boyfriends sitting at the table behind us. They waddled up to the counter quickly, as soon as they heard the Water Nazi's rude statements to us and saw the look on his face. They wanted some gossip, and naturally, Anna didn't hesitate to oblige, while hiding behind the counter. She told them her claim; that we come there to freeload the internet without ever purchasing anything, and, I'm sure, the fact that I had already filed a complaint against her to the corp. office.

Then the boyfriends, who looked eerily like the picture you see to the right; waddled back to their seats, looking at us with disdain. Again Jeff shot us a nasty look and loudly told us we had to buy something in the store in order to use the internet. This was done to humiliate us in front of the other customers. Five minutes later, he walked over and told us that they were closing. I got up and told my son to pack up his stuff so we could leave, because we had already discussed going to Dunkin Donuts.

We knew that we would not have to deal with anyone in the staff there treating us with disrespect like this. Aside from that, this particular Dunkin Donuts is a 24 hour store, with free internet as well as most of the same items for purchase that Starbucks has. They have a variety of coffees, teas, and other drinks; as well as sandwiches, donuts, and this particular store also has Baskin Robins ice cream to boot! They don't harass anyone that comes in and sits down, about not being able to use the internet without making a purchase. In fact, they don't bother anyone that sits down about making a purchase. They don't have to. And everyone always purchases something, myself included, when I go there. They treat their customers with respect.

As I was waiting for my son to pack up at Starbucks; the Tweedledee & Tweedledum started making these poo-pooing noises, and clucking as they looked as us with their noses up in the air, and all their haughty disdain. They began to talk about us, with the intention for us to hear them, but acting like they were talking quietly to themselves. These were their comments, "Some people think they don't have to purchase anything when they come here. They think the service is free."

This kind of disrespect and bad service only happens to us when Anna is present in that Starbucks store. It's not the first time I've seen her unprofessional talk (gossip) about one customer to another. And now she has prejudiced this guy Jeff against us, as well as gotten the boyfriends in a tizzy over it too.


So the question is then, why is she always so rude and disrespectful to my son and I? Maybe it's not just a bigotry issue. Perhaps she has something against unemployed people as well? Like I said, I've seen homeless people come into that store, and even people from the nuthouse down the road, who get treated with more respect than she and Jeff has shown us. Does Starbucks condone behavior like this? Do they have something against unemployed people using their "free" internet to search for work? Well, I sent another online complaint on the same night this happened, and as of yet, I have received no response. So that leads me to believe that this sort of "customer service" is acceptable to the Starbucks brand.

It's hard to believe that, when we have all seen Majic Johnson representing this brand, and he has always represented a much more positive attitude. How is it that this unprofessional woman has a management position in this company, when there are so many overqualified people out there unemployed and searching for work; people who really want a job...any job, and are willing to accept even that which is below their experience and qualifications?

To be honest, I can't figure out how this woman represents management in this store, because clearly, people lead by example. Look how the Water Nazi treated us, following her lead. Maybe she needs to get educated on how real customer service is actually done, and that should have happened long before she was given a position in management; especially in such an alleged "customer friendly" company.

I cannot believe that after this company struggled to make a comeback, they would even contemplate accepting such an unfriendly person for a customer friendly managerial position. If this unprofessional behavior is acceptable for management in this company, it makes one question having faith in this company and brand. How can the public at large trust in a corporation that tolerates this sort of behavior towards its customers?

What Has Happened Since Then?

As you can see, the situation was not kosher. After the corporation got wind of my article here, they called me, and offered me an opportunity to speak to the district manager. At the time, I was too busy to even deal with that, as I had just become employed. The corporation had assured me that this sort of behavior was not condoned by them, and that the district manager was making changes and this is what he wanted to discuss with me.

If you'll notice in the comments below, you will that I got some very irate responses from the assistant manager's supporters, which I addressed accordingly. However I wanted to let it be known that since that time, things changed at that location.

First of all, I hadn't been there in a little over a year. I would drive by and try to see if she was still there, but I never really had that great of a viewpoint from where I was sitting in traffic. Aside from that, I didn't have time to go there, and secondly, my laptop blew up on me, and therefore, that eliminated my need to use the wifi.

Since I repurchased a laptop this year, I have gone back to the store. Not, mind you, because I needed the wifi. I have my own wifi now. I went to just get out of the house and sit and relax while using my laptop. And I was relaxed because the store has completely changed. The entire store setup is different, and better I might add, and the personnel is different and far more friendly.

I had no problems at all at this location after these changes happened, and I'm not surprised by that because generally speaking, I have always found the staff at all Starbucks that I have frequented, to be very friendly. This one store was the exception until now. As I said before, it was the people who were there at the time. I never really thought that Starbucks was a company that would condone what happened to me. That's why I wrote the article in the first place. I was shocked and appalled at the treatment I had received, and wanted to get the company's attention. As they say, sometimes the pen is mightier than the sword.


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    • Etherealenigma profile imageAUTHOR

      Sandra M. Urquhart 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Hi Bob. As the writer, I can tell you, that the bigotry was not mine. I was simply pointing it out in regards to how we were treated. Secondly, I had no problem with the boyfriends as being who they are. I only developed a reaction to them when they unleashed their nasty attitudes on us. If they has simply minded their own business in the first place, and weren't so overly eager to run behind gossip; I would never have had anything to say about them. They brought on my rebuff to their uncalled for opinions and snide remarks.

      As to my former unemployed status, several of the employees knew because they are friendly people, and I had mentioned it to a few of them. In the case of the asst mgr, whether or not she knew is not the point. In fact, I doubt she knew. She's not friendly enough with people to get that sort of info in general. The point is, regardless of my former unemployed status, her nasty treatment of my son and myself was totally out of line and uncalled for. She is not the type of personality that should be serving the public, and it is people like her that cause non-Floridians to comment on how nasty and rude Floridians are.

      I really think you decided to take offense on the boyfriend issue because that is where you are coming from in your personal perspective; and thus, you missed the entire point of the article. As to the picture of the may not like it, but it was pretty on track as far as caricatures go. And I didn't just put pictures that represented the gay guys on this article alone. I put a picture to represent each party, so I showed no bigotry or partiality in that. Just because you didn't like the portrayal, is just a matter of your personal opinion. Perhaps you came here to defend them because you are somehow affiliated with them, and they are offended. Whatever the case, the fact of the matter is, people should learn not to poke their noses into other people's business or problems; and they should have minded theirs. Then you would not have to come to my site and attempt to defend them.

    • Etherealenigma profile imageAUTHOR

      Sandra M. Urquhart 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Thanks Redberry Sky, for stopping by. Yeah, it was pretty ugly. I waited for a week for a response from the corp office prior to writing this article, and since it was written, they have responded. The lady that contacted me seemed sincerely concerned, and according to her statement, "appalled" at the experiences we have had at that store. She wants to put me in contact with the district mgr for the store, but I expressed some reservations because I had already complained about this same woman before, and she's still there, just as nasty as ever. Nothing really changed, so I was thinking that a conversation with this guy was not going to result in much of a change. Frankly, we don't even want to go there because of this woman, and now, this new guy, Jeff.

      I feel like the minute we walk in, the staff will be alerted, and treat us differently than everyone else. You know how it is when the whispering starts. Frankly, as long as that woman, and now this guy, Jeff are in that store, my son and I don't want to go there. Even if they this point, too much damage has been done, especially publicly to us. Plus, I don't want insincerity, and I honestly don't feel like I would get any sincere apologies from either of them. So I really don't know that we are going back to that store, and lately, we haven't even wanted to go to any of their stores. My son has been asking me about going to Dunkin Donuts instead. Thanks again for stopping by. Don't be a stranger. GB

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      WOW! I find this to be a very interesting blog entry. I am a frequent customer to this store and have always found ALL employees to be very polite, patient and courteous to all customers. It seems as though this "writer" has an axe to grind as there are many comments regarding the homeless, treatment of unemployed persons and even suggestion of "bigotry". As a Black, Gay man I find the comments by the writer suggestive of her own bigotry. The picture of the twins is very derogatory and unnecessary if the issue concerns the employees. Secondly, unless you advertise your homelessness or unemployment status, how does another person know such? I guess this writer assumes others have such insights as her; evidenced by her comment regarding the "boyfriends". My suggestion, vote with your feet. If you feel so unwelcome go to Dunkin Donuts or another Starbucks.

    • Redberry Sky profile image

      Redberry Sky 

      6 years ago

      Wow, what a really annoying experience! I'm not as brave as you, if I get bad service somewhere I just stop going there. The bad service you've received at this place is the worst I've ever heard of - you're right, it sounds like she has a vendetta against you. I hope you get some joy in this eventually and Starbucks to something about it.


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