Dear Starbucks,

I’m a loyal customer. I earned my Gold membership in 2010 and have maintained it with absolute ease ever since. And while I wish that your baristas would spell my name correctly more often, I love many things about your company, your products and your brand.

I love that you manage to offer 100%-customized drinks with relative speed (in most locations, anyway).

I love that you continuously evolve your menu based on customer feedback. Seriously, coconut milk and the S’mores Frappuccino® were both solid additions.

I love that you give back to the community – both nationally and in the communities in which you operate.

I love that you offer entrepreneurs and remote employees a place to be productive.

I love that you support your employees’ educational goals.

I love that you stand up for what’s right.

But this week, my love took a hit. You announced a price increase. Again. Clearly no one likes to pay more. But I have zero problem paying for the conveniences you offer – access on nearly every street corner, an app that’s both intuitive and functional, free Wi-Fi, etc. What I don’t like is paying for your operating costs.

The value of your experience hasn’t increased. You haven’t launched any new services or extras. And, importantly, the cost of coffee has decreased. So it makes no sense that you’d raise the price of coffee. Baked goods would be understandable. After all, the soaring price of eggs due to avian flu is well documented.

So what gives?

In our work with small businesses, we teach entrepreneurs about creating customer love. You’re often great at this. We encourage them to make the buying experience easy. Again, check. We specifically discourage passing along increases in overhead/operating costs to customers. Fail. Existing customers shouldn’t pay for a company’s marketing that works to bring in new buyers. Or to upsell existing ones. Yet you specifically noted marketing costs as one of the contributors to your increased overhead. That’s simply not customer love.

I don’t expect you’ll rescind your increase based on this blog post. But perhaps you’ll be more considerate of which costs you pass through next time.


Kind regards,

Venti iced green tea, unsweetened (summer)

Grande decaf skim cappuccino (year-round)

Grande decaf skim Pumpkin Spice Latte, no whip (fall)

Grande decaf skim Gingerbread Latte, no whip (holiday)