ordering for dummies

i guess when there's a three-day weekend, some people decide to give their brain cells a rest as well.

yesterday and today there was an insane amount of customers who needed a hard kick in the pants. i've ranted so many times before about customers who approach the register with no clue as to what they want to order after standing in line for five minutes. it's stupid, it's dumb and it wastes time for everyone involved.

- the phone addict
this is the customer who refuses to put the phone down long enough to order - instead opting to make us (and all the customers behind them) wait until their conversation is over. sometimes, in-between sentences they'll whisper something unintelligible to us and then toss their money on the counter, as if "decaf mumble, mumble, mumble" translates into starbonics.

- the first-timer
the newbie customer who waits until we've asked them "what can i get for you today?" to actually LOOK at our menu board. and of course a five-minute explanation of each and every one of our beverages ensues while the line gets longer and longer and longer.

- the should-know-better
this is the customer that has been to bux a million times, knows exactly how the ordering process goes, and STILL hems and haws when we ask them what they want. they giggle and smile and say "gee! i should know what i want by now, huh?" and then re-reads the menu forty times before deciding on their usual. their friggen' USUAL!

- the bottlenecker
at bux we usually have what's called a 'floater' to call down the line so the register partners don't have to take extra time to mark cups. usually it's a very efficient process, although occasionally we'll come across a customer who will demand so much attention, and ask so many questions, that we cannot fulfill our floater duties. meanwhile the register partner has already started to ring up the bottlenecker and cannot help the next customer in line. of course that means everyone behind them has to wait even longer just to order.

and my personal favorite:
- mr./ms. ultra-complex
this is the person that won't tell you what they want to order unless you have out your sharpie and have cup in your hand. problem is - if you don't tell me the size of your damn drink, or whether it's hot or iced, it's USELESS for me to start writing! still mr./ms. ultra-complex will say "you need to write this down" and won't utter another word until i'm perfectly poised with cup and pen in hand. then they proceed to say rather slowly "nonfat.....decaf.....three shots.....no foam.....sugar-free hazelnut....why aren't you writing this down?"
"because i need to know the size and what kind of drink it is first." i inform them.
"i'm telling you!" mr./ms. ultra-complex will huff. "nonfat....decaf....three shots...."
of course the drink ends up being a venti when we've started writing on a grande cup, or they will inform us it's supposed to be iced after watching us write down their order on a hot cup. grrrrrrr!

partner rant: please don't bitch to me about a barista you're having problems with. if it's upsetting you so much, then talk to the manager if you can't work it out with your nemesis. talking to me will fix NOTHING, and it only makes me want to take the side of the person that hates you. seriously.


Tina said...

Be patient with Starbucks "newbie" customers. They're an endangered species!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, don't be too hard on an unfamiliar customer. It's not their fault that Starbucks invented a new language for its menu.

As for cell-phone customers, they need to be routinely ignored until they hang up. It's rude to interrupt their conversations anyway.

Almost as bad, the sandwichistas at the Subway across the street here stay on their cells constantly while working, but at least they get the job done.

Ya Looblue said...

i wonder what a customer would do if you pulled out YOUR cell phone while taking their order and started chatting away. next time you get a 'talker'...maybe you should. it might be really funny.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the people that act like it's impossible to understand the Starbucks lingo. If they don't want to use it, they don't have to. If someone orders a large latte, it's not like we don't know what you're talking about.

Along the lines of the "ultra-complex" customer. I love it when they act like they have a complicated drink and, after they say it, you have no reaction because it really isn't that complicated. The customer usually has a look on their face that says they are SO pround for stumping you that quickly turns to sadness because they ended up not being special at all.

Or, what about the customers that order shorts and they say it like they know some kind of big secret. The usuallly say it like: "I'll have a SHORT..... (their eyebrows will raise).... latte." As if you're going to jump across the counter, grab them by the collar and scream: "WHO TOLD YOU ABOUT THE SHORT!!??"

Does your store have a drive-thru? Mine does and it seems to magnify every single one of these customer types. It also tends to attract a whole different kind of dumb-ass.


Boston Barista said...

Starbucks didn't invent a new language for their menu.. if you know how to read it shouldnt be a problem. Sounding out letters to make a word is something that anyone who is drinking coffee should have been doing for a long time... it shoudln't be that difficult. Also, sounding out the first 4 letters and then making up and ending to the word is not okay, Mr. Maccachino, Mochiato, Carmel, Vente...

Fabulously Broke in the City said...

I am slightly guilty of being a Starbucks pain in the butt.

However, the only time I was, was when I ordered a Tall, realized I wanted the Grande and asked if I could change it. When the barista hesitated and hemmed a bit, I told him to ignore me completely and give me the tall I wanted.....

But I definitely always know what I want, and how I want it. :)

Magi said...

I have a question for you. I've been drinking the venti non-fat, no whip mocha for years. Two weeks ago, they started tasting really weak and milky to me. Did my tastebuds go through a transformation or did the specs change for the venti mocha? Thanks!

uberswell said...

with regulars, i am okay if they are on the phone, as long as they are getting thier usual drink. the hustle hustle busisness guy who gets a large at the same time every day and always has correct change is, i feel, being worse to himself for not taking 5 minutes to enjoy his coffee in peace before the day begins, than he is to me, who would just pass the large cup over anyway. but anyone else-i will fill the order right behind you until you hold or get off. if i were a mind reader i would be in something a lot more profitable than the latte busisness.

do you ever get comments from folks who recognize themselves, or at least thier behavior, in your posts? the kind of behavior you write about is so outrageous, and yet, so common-i mean, are there really still people that DON'T know that it's rude to order while on the phone? really? or those that are totally shocked when you ring them up, like the exchange of goods for money is a totally new concept to them, and they then spend the next 4 minutes during rush digging through thier pockets for change. i mean, they're not really assholes, and they are clearly smart enough to hold a job and pay rent, so how do people not know such basic aspects of transactions they commit every day?

Beth said...

Ugh. As a bux regular, I hate those people. Did their mamas not raise them with enough manners to tell the person behind them to go ahead while they try to figure out things in their tiny peabrains?

Not that I'm bitter or anything ...

me said...

this is why i'm going to find a job at home depot. the people there are sane.

Marcus said...

here's a bit of a rant of my own...

went to a starbucks here in malaysia and it's a pretty busy/popular one... went up to the counter and asked for a Grande Low-fat Latte... and this is what i got

me: a grande low-fat latte please

barista: have here?

me: no, just in a paper cup.

barista: take-away right?

me: yes

barista: iced right?

me: no, hot.

barista: latte?

me: yes

barista: what size? medium or large?

me: grande.

barista: low-fat right?

me: yes.

barista: ok

me: grumble grumble

... nothing much else to say...

Sling said...

It boggles the mind that people can go to the same place evrytime,and still not know how to order....These are the same morons that have to anguish over the consequences of answering the question,"Do you want fries with that?"...

Anonymous said...

Dunkin Donuts calls the Starbucks lingo Fratalian, a combination of French and Italian. It doesn't matter to me, it's not that difficult to order your drink correctly. Besides, the Starbucks staff can speak American English, which is more than I can say about Dunkin Donuts staff.

barista brat said...

tina - yes, but they are still capable of reading a menu while they're in line.

anonymous - starbonics is easy to learn, and even if a customer isn't fluent it's still pretty easy for us to understand 'large coffee, please".
and i think i'd go crazy if someone making my sandwich was on their cell phone!

ya looblue - i might do that when i don't mind getting fired, haha.

schlatko - as usual, your comments are genius!

boston barista - my favorite is when people ask for a 'caramel mulatto'.

fabulously broke in the city - that was so NOT a pain in the butt incident. those baristas were being jerks, plain and simple.

magi - there's been no formula change, but sometimes baristas over-water the mocha mixture so the chocolate taste is diluted. maybe there's a newbie at your bux who hasn't learned the proper measurements?

uberswell - i know those people all too well!

beth - you're a barista's dream customer!

me - good luck with that! you must let me know if any customer horror stories come from it!

marcus - oi, that is very rant worthy.

sling - do you ever wonder if they stand in front of their closet four hours wondering 'black or brown shoes?'

anonymous - haha! too funny!

Anonymous said...

Read your blog almost daily. I also frequent bux and competitors. Perhaps put the blame for customers not knowing how to order drinks where it belongs..the corporation.

I should not have to know that I need to order what size drink first, using whatever vernacular corporate has deemed acceptable. Just sayin :)

They want only regulars? or do they want repeats.

Lizabeth said...

let me preface this by saying i am ALWAYS in your corner. i worke din service industry for my entire 20's, and a starbucks style cafe for a couple years. HOWEVER!!! along with all your complaints about us let me add, that i cannot count the number of time my grande non-fat no-foam latte has had foam on it. and i always order it the same way. grande non-fat no-foam latte. (size first)!

Anonymous said...

So I know that I shouldn't be mean but I swear when I was working at the bux I knew a customer just like every single one that you have just discribed. I'm dying laughing cause I guess now that I don't have to deal with those Fu**wits it's funny. It was funny then too but still frusterating.