If you order an iced cappucino at Starbucks, the cashier will tell you “we’re not supposed to make iced cappucino, but we’ll make one for you.” I guess you’re supposed to feel like they’re cutting you a break but, shh, don’t tell everyone.
Perhaps inspired by the current book I’m reading, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” I had an overly literal reaction to this disclosure. I pointed to the menu on the wall above the barrista’s station. It listed all the coffee drinks including cappucino. Each one could be purchased “hot or iced.”
“You got us on a technicality,” one of the employees said, laughing like the jig was up.
A technicality? “It’s on your menu. It’s been there for years.”
Finally, they let me in on the real secret. Apparently, the Starbucks corporation is worried about the possibility of bacteria
forming growing when the heated foam hits the ice cubes. So employees are instructed to say what the cashier said to me. I assume the company’s lawyers came up with this. Perhaps they have gotten a ruling that the company would not be liable if I come down with food poisoning after such a dialogue.
If I keel over in the next few hours, Starbucks will be able to say, “We warned him, but he ignored us, the poor chap.”
It’s a weird way to manage a liability problem, to orchestrate a conversation between employees and customers that’s supposed to seem friendly, spontaneous and intimate.
Corporate practices like this tend to replicate themselves. I’m already used to being asked at Pavillion’s whether I want help carrying my groceries to my car, even if I’m only buying a tube of toothpaste. You’d think the clerks would have figured out by now that I’m perfectly capable of pushing a cartful of groceries. I’ve been shopping there for years, and I don’t recall ever passing out from exhaustion in their presence. But, of course, “we’re required to ask,” so this charade of a friendly offer will continue, and I will continue to be forced to say, “No, but thank you.”
But the Starbucks variation — “We’re not supposed to make it for you” — is a new one. Anyone else run into something like this?