Starbucks “Pairs With” Annoying You

In order to make up for money lost during the free coupon crisis of 2006, Seattle area Starbucks have a new upsell campaign. Now when you order your coffee, a barista will inform you of what high caloric food product it “pairs with.”

Jonathan writes: “I’m in Starbucks this morning, and I order my usual latte and the barista tells me that it “pairs well with low fat cinnamon swirl coffee cake.” So, I ask, “What’s with all the ‘Pairs With’ nonsense?” To which she responds with what felt like a 10 minute sales pitch about how certain flavors compliment each other, and how when people drink coffee they also eat stuff and blah blah blah ..

I was forced to do the whole nod and smile and pretend I care while I was just thinking, “Making my coffee pairs well with shutting the F*CK UP!”

Seriously. Don’t mess with us before our morning cup. It’s liable to end up on your face.


Edit Your Comment

  1. bambino says:

    I wasn’t upsold this morning. Though I did get a confused look for my complicated drink order. Don’t expect everyone to just order a damn latte!

  2. AcilletaM says:

    Isn’t Jonathon being a bit of an ass here? I mean, he asked the question so he really wasn’t forced to do the nod thing.

  3. I mean, he asked the question so he really wasn’t forced to do the nod thing.

    Some people just love minimum coverage.

  4. thwarted says:

    I think that pairs well with my decision to stay the hell out of Starbucks.

  5. Mr. Gunn says:

    It’s like pop-up advertising, but in reality. It’s like “People who bought this also bought…”, but worse, because there’s a forced response.

    There’s a fine line between providing service and annoying agressive upselling, and the worst thing about it is that the company has placed the decision about where that line is in the front-line employee’s hands.

    Of course, they’ll probably get tired of getting those “Just give me my damn coffee” looks and quit saying it. Yay for corporate intelligence.

  6. ikes says:

    Anything you order at starbucks pairs well with you being a sucker.

  7. exkon says:

    ikes is right, I have a few friends that have worked for Starbucks, nothing beats selling $1.50 worth of coffee for $4.75.

  8. Clare says:

    Oh, for goodness’ sake. How hard is it just to say, “No, thank you”?

  9. SouthOf50 says:

    Thank goodness I we have the choice of Second Cup up here.

  10. homerjay says:

    you really think it costs them $1.50? Aim a little lower…..

  11. mr-scribbles says:

    I hate to be curmudgeonly here, but WTF do you expect when you walk into Starbucks?

    How can any regular Starbucks customer be offended or suprised or indignant of canned, franchised pre-fab, scripted sales jargon? That’s what Starbucks is!!

    And spare me the “but the coffee is so good” jibberish, especially if you live in NYC where every Dominican diner has a $2,000 espresso machine churning out the best coffee you can get in a place, and for half the price.

    And, by the way, coffee should be served in a ceramic coffee cup unless you get it to go, then it’s a simple paper cup — which means you don’t have to use 45 different single-serve disposables to get your caffeine fix every morning . . .

    I mean what the hell?

    Your typical Starbucks drink (for here or to go) involves a paper or plastic cup, a heavy paper ring around the cup, eleven napkins, sugar packets, a wooden stirring stick a bubbly-space-helmet top, and maybe a straw and a long plastic spoon, too. All that trash you produce that goes with your latte probably weighs more than the actual liquid you end up drinking. Since when does a coffee need to be fucking accessorized?

    OK, I’m done griping about people that get offended at the Starbucks Experience of scripted spiel with feigned enthusiasm because you choose to go to a McCoffee Franchise for your fix of righteous indignation at the very thing that makes Starbucks Starbucks.

    WOW, that felt good… Thanks Consumerist! (My thumb goes up as a happy dog barks, and a flash of light shines from my front teeth with a DING! …)

  12. etinterrapax says:

    You know, Clare, it’s not. But the real question is, why should you have to? You’ve gone someplace, chosen what you wanted, ordered it, and prepared to pay. Those actions all tend to indicate that you’re done, you have what you came for. Upselling at that point tacks needless time onto the transaction, increases wait time for everyone, and annoys people. Any increased profits coming from doing it, moreover, are going to someone who doesn’t especially need it, since I doubt they’re dropping prices or raising their workers’ pay or fringes. So I have a lot of trouble seeing it as a harmless three-second interaction. I’d rather a business spend those three seconds impressing me with genuine politeness and concern about my experience with the company. That would get them a lot further than inspiring me to spend five whole minutes writing a public screed on how I hate upselling.

  13. WMeredith says:

    Starbukcs is for suckers. Yoo walk in and you’re asking for it. Oh, and the coffee+milk & sugar and syrup costs $.50 or less, including the cup. I garauntee it.

  14. Mr. Gunn says:

    I heard somewhere the actual cost of the coffee itself was around a quarter per cup. Labor, equipment, and rent is probably the lion’s share of the costs, but yeah, they’re making a tidy profit. This whole initiative smells like some corporate flack’s bright idea to justify his salary.

  15. AcidReign says:

    …..We can all say “no.” My issue with the practice is that the rest of us are waiting in line while the waitress/counter person is trying to upsell. Of course, I tried Starbucks once. It was decent, but I’m not a big fan of paying more for my coffee than my lunch. They gave me grief for not having any flavoring syrup in my double espresso, too. How else am I going to be able to judge the quality of the actual coffee?

  16. Sorren says:

    Upselling is always rude, and forcing your minimum-wage employees to be rude FOR you is VERY rude, to both the barrista and to you. The company goes even further into the negative on the karma score for pulling this crap. But then I know you aren’t surprised and it’s only a matter of time until they create a new low to achieve. Just keep watching.

  17. timmus says:

    Doesn’t it get really confusing if it it appears that something pairs with pears?

  18. This still ranks below calling customers “guests” on my irritation scale.

  19. etinterrapax says:

    Bwahaha! Yes. If we’re guests, then why are they charging us like it’s some kind of newfangled wedding reception?

  20. katewrath says:

    I used to ignore people who snorted derisively about “make your own damn coffee”, because I like lattes. (I think of it as a liquid breakfast–the kind that doesn’t impair your driving.)

    Then I discovered the Bialetti Moka pot ($19.95, makes 2 shots in 5 minutes.)

    Add a pound of pre-ground coffee ($12.95 from Lily) and a gallon of milk ($4 or so) and you’ve got lattes for a week. Get a commuter mug and you’ve got lattes to go.

    So, to paraphrase earlier commenters make your own damn lattes.

  21. amazon says:

    I just don’t get all this complicated fancy coffee crap.

    Ah, the large double-double.

  22. SouthOf50 says:

    Peter Mackay explained the goodness of a double-double to Condoleezza Rice the other day at Tim’s – of course she only had one sweetner though.

  23. amazon says:

    I guess she didn’t get it.

  24. FromMoon says:

    Wow- I kinda got blasted. I think I need to add that when I asked the barista about “pairs with” I was trying to get her to agree with me that it’s a stupid phrase/campaign, but then she went all “Glengarry Glen Ross” on me.

  25. much ado about nothing here. Is it really any worse than McDonalds asking if you would like fries with that?