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Entries in Starbucks (1)


People Buy From People – and You’re not Ready Until You’re Ready

It’s pretty common knowledge Thanksgiving is my favorite day.  My daughter and her significant other were helping me get the bird ready.  And while I had put a filter and coffee in my old Mr. Coffee, water was still needed.

After asking Mr. Sig Other to add water and perk the coffee, it was all I could do not to laugh out loud when the poor guy poured the cold water right over the grains.  As I thought about it, he’d grown up in the age of Keurigs and coffee stores.  Old school Mr. Coffees are dinosaurs.

I could hardly blame him.  My coffee tends to come from Dunkins during the week, with a stop at a coffee shop on the weekends or in the evening (for a decaf.)  My Mr. Coffee pot was used all the time to water plants, and rarely for making coffee.

Being in a happy/celebratory mood, and with visions of fresh lattes enjoyed in front of the televised Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, I ran over to my local Starbucks for a Verismo machine.

I thanked the young Barista for working Thanksgiving Day, and asked for a demo of the Verismo.  The machine worked flawlessly (as it should for two hundred bucks.)  She let off a squeal of delight when I said I would take one, as it would be the first sold, it was Thanksgiving Day, and apparently she gets a little spiff for selling it.

The machine worked great all day, and everyone had a caffeinated Thanksgiving. 

I kept having issues with the used pods falling out, and discovered (when I actually read the manual the next day) the used pod storage container was missing (based on the pictures in the manual.)

No worries.  It’s Starbucks.  They’ll handle.


  1. I called Verismo tech support.  They said I had to go to the store.
  2. I went to the Store a few days later, and I was told I had to call Corporate.
  3. Corporate was quick to give my Starbucks card an inconvenience credit, and then patched me over to Verismo tech support.
  4. Verismo tech support said to go to the store with the machine.  “If they can’t help you, have them call us.”
  5. After packaging the machine back up, I went back to the store, and was told there is nothing they can do.


At this point, I was getting tired.  And with my machine down I couldn’t have coffee. 

So I told the delightful and helpless Barista I was leaving the machine, calling the credit card company to dispute the charge, and telling everyone I know about the experience.

For me, that’s social media.

So I put some posts up. These posts are all linked so it didn’t take much to tell my friends to beware.   My friend Marsh Sutherland shared.












Within minutes, I got the attached (names removed):

Subject: Verismo

Message: Hi Gary.  This is Starbucks in Westborough.  I was unsure if it was you who had a problem with your Verismo until I just saw your status update and verified that it was you.  The policy surrounding Verismo returns is that we can’t refund a Verismo without a receipt. While my employees were simply following policy, there is a little leeway on my part, especially if I know the customer and may be able to waive the requirement of receipt. I can definitely help you with the part you need if it the part I am thinking of.  Feel free to contact me directly at my personal email address, which I provided.  I am sure we can get this resolved to your satisfaction.

The next day, I went in to the store, reclaimed my machine, left with a part from the demo machine, and shared stories with the store manager on the Verismo (her wife is pregnant, and she is looking forward to the day the little one can use the Verismo it’s that easy.)  I called the credit card company to resolve the dispute, and did another post.

All is well.

I thank you if you are still hanging in there on this long set up.  This isn’t about the power of social media.  It’s about basic corporate blocking and tackling.

While my personal machine is all set, it is clear Starbucks is having an issue.   From my perspective, Starbucks “rushed” the product to market (saying in October it would be in 65% of retail stores) without having the appropriate support structure in place.

What do I do now if a part on my machine gets accidentally broken? I can’t go into the store and hope they’ll scavenge off the demo machines.

We see this happening in IT all the time.  Deadlines loom, and the IT Service Desk is not prepared to support a new effort (be it hardware, software, process or combination.)  Yet a deadline is coming (especially year end as they are often tied to bonuses) and so something is pushed to production without a support model.  At Harvard Partners, we believe the support organization should participate in the Change and Release Management processes and be empowered to say NO if they are ill prepared to support something.

At Starbucks, this would mean a better job coordinating between Verismo support and Starbucks Store Operations (aka process!)  It might also mean delivery of a spare parts ordering website consumers can use.

Far too often the pressure to hit a deadline overrides support.  Looking back at my Verismo story, think about how much time (Verismo Support, Starbucks Corporate, Barista’s and store managers, me!), costs (toll charges, complementary drinks) and ill will was created over product management not spending a little more time to get the processes set.  You know if I had the issue, others are as well. 

I expect better from Starbucks, as I do IT support organizations!