beware the gripes of march

ok - so when superlead tells me to get off my ass and start posting, i know i'm in trouble.

as i'm sure most of you know, we baristas all got "re-trained" last tuesday.
was it worth it to close the stores early for this training?
for the baristas who already do their job the way they're supposed to, it was a waste of an evening. for the baristas who cut corners, don't pay attention to detail, or know how to aerate foam properly, it was a good way to make it clear that they need to change their ways.

in a way it was nice to hear that howard wants us to go back to quality - that we shouldn't feel pressured to hand off a crappy drink in record time.
"the customer would rather wait a few more minutes for a drink that tastes good, rather than instantly get a drink that tastes bad." said our trainers. "if you mess up a drink, go ahead and remake it - it's better to hand out a drink that tastes of quality."
"so, does that mean it doesn't count against us if it takes longer than three minutes for the customer to get their drink after walking through the front door?" superlead asked.
"no." our trainers told us. "the three-minute rule is still in place."

uh, yeah.

BUT on a totally different note, i must take some time to tell you about doobie newbie.
as you may recall, doobie was a very difficult newbie.
totally baked in the beginning, it seemed like he would never get the hang of being a barista. not only was he super sssslllllooooooowwwww, but he couldn't remember drink recipes, how to ring up customers, or even how to change the trash.
week after week we expected to see him quit or be fired.
week after week he hung on.
and now months later i am so happy to say that doobie newbie is now a GOOD barista.
sure, he's not super fast, and he still has some doobie moments, but he is a completely different person now than he was when he started.
and it certainly wasn't an overnight change.
it was very gradual. one week he could actually remember how many pumps to put into a grande vanilla latte. a few weeks later he was no longer making mistakes when marking cups, etc. finally, the time came when no one was complaining about him anymore, a time when i wouldn't cringe when i saw he was working the same shift as i was.
i made sure to tell doobie how proud i was of him, and how glad i was that he was fully in the barista groove. it's now a pleasure to work with him, and he always puts in 110% when he works with me.
yay for doobie!

and now i must start my very long barista/partner rant:
the other day there were only two baristas on the floor (i happened to be the barista on register that day). it was one of those 'machine gun burst' afternoons, when four or five customers would come in at a time. after one of our mini rushes (in which we ended up with a line of 6 frappuccinos as well as bar drinks) another group of four customers entered our store.
"i want an venti decaf americano." an older woman told me, then paid for her drink. after that a man ordered a hazelnut latte, a woman ordered an iced tea and her friend ordered an iced coffee.
the barista at bar was still working on the frappuccinos, even as i was taking the last order. when he handed off the final two frappuccinos, the older woman threw her hands up in the air and hissed at my fellow barista "where is MY drink? i ordered waaaaay before that man and he has BOTH of his drinks!".
"i'm sorry ma'am, but there was a line of drinks ahead of yours. i'm starting on the americano now." he politely informed her.
meanwhile, since i had no customers to ring up, i made the iced tea and iced coffee drink while my fellow barista waited for the decaf shots to pull for the bitter woman's americano.
now, i would have waited to hand off the iced tea and iced coffee since it was clear the bitter old woman was already in a tiff, but fellow barista went ahead and called out those drinks while the last of the decaf shots were pulled.
"ma'am, you're drink takes longer to make than those other two. i've been working on your drink this whole time." the barista calmly explained, but she wasn't having any of it.
"get me your manager!" she hissed at me, apparently sick of dealing with the barista at bar.
i went to the back room to get mr. split and quickly explained the situation: that the woman was mistaken in thinking the frappuccinos were ordered after her and that the other two drinks were not espresso based drinks.

soooooo -
the bitter lady gets on her soapbox and just starts spewing anything starbucks related that comes to mind.
"you're supposed to be focused on customers, but this is the WORST customer service i have ever received! i've been a loyal customer for years - i'm even a SHAREHOLDER, but i will be selling my stocks soon because it's clear that this company is going down the tubes!"
mr. split patiently listened to her go off before he apologized and offered her a beverage certificate. he also attempted to explain that there were indeed drinks in queue before hers, but she wasn't about to listen to reason. she started AGAIN about the stocks, and horrible customer service, yadda yadda.
so then mr. split offers to refund her drink, AS WELL AS giving her a free drink coupon.
this is the part that really upsets me.
starbucks is so "focused" on making the customer happy, that they basically let stupid customers get away with anything. what is so frustrating is that this woman TRULY thinks she was wronged! not only that - she ends up with two free drinks!
baristas are powerless in situations like these. this bitter old woman is going to call up corporate, believing her drink was left behind (because policy says to let the customer complain, and then do WHATEVER we can to make them happy), corporate will come down on us and our district manager will have to have a special meeting with all parties involved so that we know what we did wrong and how we should avoid it in the future.
if we actually try to explain our part of the situation, we are labelled "defensive" and "argumentative" and can possibly get a write up for it.
i know how important customer service is, but it is also important to back up your baristas.