Trending: Get in line for a cup of Joe, Dave

Starbucks wants to label your coffee by name, in a bid to get friendly. It's all rather, well, American for Tim Walker, who foresees problems far worse than getting a decaf latte in error

Starbucks, the international cheese-and-Marmite-panini chain, has a new company-wide customer service policy. From this week, when you place an order for a coffee-themed beverage, your barista will also ask for your name, and then scribble it in black felt-tip on the relevant Tall, Grande or Venti cup.

This seems eminently sensible, particularly in the firm's more crowded branches. Plenty of busy cafés and take-aways have always done it, so as to deliver food and/or drinks to the correct customer. And if your Americano fails to arrive, you'll also be able to identify the negligent Starbucks employee by name, since he or she will now be wearing a larger, more easily readable name-badge, with extra space for emoticons.

Objections arose online, however, after Starbucks tried to explain the policy as something other than mere efficiency improvement. In a mass email to holders of the Starbucks loyalty card, under the subject line, "We'd love to get to know you over coffee", the company mused: "Have you noticed how everything seems a little impersonal nowadays? We've all become user names, reference numbers and IP addresses. That's why, from tomorrow, we'd love to call you by your name when you order your coffee." It gets worse: the chain's latest television advertisement compounds the insult, claiming: "From now on, we won't refer to you as a 'latte' or a 'mocha', but instead as your folks intended: by your name." My "folks"?!

This would be all very well if it weren't coming from Starbucks, the world's largest coffeehouse company, which owns around 20,000 stores worldwide, nearly 1,000 in this country. The email, incidentally, bore the signature not of a named Starbucks executive, but of the generic loyalty scheme, "My Starbucks Rewards". In the US, where the policy has been in place for years, entire blogs are devoted to the miswritten names on Starbucks cups. ("Starbucks," begins one, "Where nobody knows your name".) A practice designed to foster brand loyalty presumably has the opposite effect whenever Margaret becomes "Margit" and Hilary becomes "Hairily". Dispatched to patronise a local Starbucks yesterday, to test out the new system, I had the choice of five outlets within five minutes' walk of the office. The notion that, by imparting my first name, I would somehow develop a lasting relationship with a barista seemed, frankly, preposterous.

Still, Aga and Magda – the friendly baristas – were doing their best. Luckily for Aga, my name is dishearteningly common and contains only three letters. There did seem to be some teething problems: the gentleman ahead of me was bemused to be asked to identify himself. When he eventually muttered his name, it turned out to be something foreign, doubtless with a non-phonetic spelling. And when Magda delivered his cup of chai, it was adorned with a four-letter word, scrawled in felt-tip: "Name."

*Comedian Jimmy Carr takes a turn as a Starbucks barista in the video (above, left)

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Product Advisor - Automotive

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to the consistent growth of...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Automotive

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ex...

    Recruitment Genius: Renewals Sales Executive - Automotive

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ou...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable