Problems with Starbucks in Manhattan

I’ve been an avid Starbucks customer for six years now. I am sure my Starbucks addiction would have started sooner had a Starbucks been constructed years earlier in White Plains. But the first one was on Main Street, some odd years ago, an all glass structure plopped right next to the fountain, to serve as both a homeless shelter and refreshing coffeehouse. (It acted more as the former and less as the latter as the years went on.) I found another Starbucks in Ramsley Square after the move and I’ve been addicted since. The cost was offset by a soothing atmosphere, delicious taste, and the pompous feeling. Let’s face it: everyone feels above everyone else when they have Starbucks in their hand. It was a source of both refreshment and elitism for me.

I set aside $250 every month to sustain my elitism, but that soon developed into an addiction. I’ve had crying fits of rage when I didn’t have my Starbucks. I’ve gone from depressed and lonely to happy and cheerful in just one sip. Starbucks is more than its coffee. But Starbucks in Manhattan continuously forgets that and serves substandard drinks with attitude at astronomical prices. Here’s a list of complaints, annoyances, and sources of hatred that have dwindled my budget to a mere once-a-week habit, at most:

  • Bad Drinks: I am understanding and sympathetic when my name is spelled incorrectly as “Micheal.” But when you destroy my drink the first time, don’t be annoyed when I ask you to make it for a second, third, and as it has happened before, fourth time. My order is not complicated (venti sugar-free vanilla, non-fat chai), but it is specific enough to have a distinctive taste that I notice when a shot of chai is missing, or when the barista completely forgot the sugar-free vanilla. There are only two Starbucks in the city with commendable baristas: Starbucks on Spring/Crosby, and on 41st and Madison. The Starbucks at Astor messes up on average of two times per order, and leaves a one inch margin of nothing at the top of the drink. (They don’t even have the courtesy to kill that space with ice!) And the one in Union Square on 15th is in its own world. It is dirty inside, the staff are completely rude, and they manage to destroy every drink, if they even remember to make it.
  • Terrible Wifi: The internet was shoddy at best when Starbucks required that you either pay for it or enter your Gold account information. But now that they’ve enabled it for the public, it has dropped to the terrible status. I have longed for the opportunity to order a decent chai and sit and surf the internet on my laptop. The anger is amplified when you wait fifteen minutes for a seat and the internet doesn’t work at all. I highly doubt it would cost more than $50 per location to increase the bandwidth, speed, and reach.
  • High Costs: I pay $4.74 for my Starbucks in the suburbs. That same drink is $5.24 in the city. My Gold card brings it to the 4.20s in the suburbs, but only to 4.70s in the city. I’d be understanding if the drinks were heavenly, but they are the opposite. It is a huge turn off to go to Starbucks, pay higher prices, and receive a drink that tastes terrible.
  • Rude Baristas: I am sick of the looks the baristas give me when I ask them to remake it. I don’t care how long the line is. I don’t care how many drinks you are working on it. If you made it right the first time, then I wouldn’t be requesting a new one! Some have even had the audacity to come up to patrons using their laptops and asking them if they have ordered a drink or will be ordering a drink. When the barista asked me, I ignored him. How dare you ask if I’ve ordered a drink? I was tempted to pull out my Gold card, and even my Black card that I keep in my wallet because its design is beautiful, and throw them at him. I understand that Starbucks wants to ensure that the public is not mooching off its internet (and bathrooms), but then the company shouldn’t have enabled free, public wifi. I’d be more than happy to log into my account to use internet. I’d be more than happy to swipe my Gold card on the bathroom door. But don’t come asking if I’ve ordered a drink.
I can keep going with my list, but I’ve come to accept some of them and am understanding. But these problems are the most occurring and the most annoying. Starbucks has such a large customer base that these rants and lists don’t matter, but it’s nice to vocalize my rants through blogging. I have complained before and exchanged emails with HQ Starbucks employees, but to no avail. My addiction has diminished and I’m sure Starbucks will continue to be an infrequent refreshment.

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