Lame Adventure 185: Starbucks is Watching Me

Last week I had my 364th birthday in dog years.  When I was a teenager, I never thought I’d last much beyond 280 dog years, but now that I’m showing signs of being yet another member of the boomer generation that has failed to die before getting old, I’m not complaining … much.  Everyone nearest and dearest, has showered me with attention, texts, cards, email, phone calls, food, cake, theater, and enough alcohol for outpatient reconstructive liver surgery.

My chief complaint is with Starbucks.


In general, this coffee conglomerate annoys me primarily because they treat my beverage of choice, tea, like the poor relation that drools and signs her name with a thumb print, but specifically it started back on April 20th, fourteen days before my birthday proper when I received an email that said:

The day before my birthday, it occurred to me that I had yet to receive my “Many Happy Sips” postcard, so I emailed Starbucks:

“On April 20th you sent me an email claiming the following: “You know we’d never miss your birthday. And to make it extra happy, we’d like to buy you a drink. Look out for your Free Birthday Drink Postcard winging its way to you in the mail – and dream up all kinds of delicious and exotic drinks you’d like to try. It should arrive in the next 10 days!”  Tomorrow’s my birthday. I’ve yet to receive my free birthday drink postcard. Am I out of luck?”

The next day, Matt M in Customer Relations responded:

“I checked your account and found that a postcard was not mailed because your date of birth was not included with the personal information provided. To add this information for future reference, please sign in to your account on our website. After you select the “Manage My Account” option, you will see the “Personal Info” page displayed. From there, select the option to add your birth date. Please note this information cannot be changed after it is entered. Once entered, click on the “Save My Changes” key.

In the meantime, I am sending you a birthday postcard which should arrive at the address specified on your account within the next 7-10 business days.

If you have any further questions or concerns that I was unable to address, please feel free to let me know.

Warm Regards,

Matt M”

The process of revising my account page sounded exhausting, so I did nothing, but I did email Matt back:

“Thanks Matt.  How did Starbucks know my birthday was coming if that info was not included on my “Personal Info” page?  Kinda Orwellian from my perspective.”

Matt did not respond.  Instead, exactly nine hours later, I heard from Tracy W, also a member of customer relations, who ignored my question and contradicted Matt.  She also assumed that my first name is the same as the first word in my email address:

“Hello Lame,

Thank you for contacting Starbucks Coffee Company.

I am sorry to hear that you did not receive your birthday beverage postcard.  I show that your card was sent on April 20, 2011.  I will be more than happy to send you a free beverage coupon.  Please allow 7-10 business days for you to receive this in the mail.

Also I noticed an error on your loyalty rewards and to fix it I made you a gold level member.  Please [allow] 6-8 weeks for you to receive this in the mail.

If you have any further questions or concerns that I was unable to address, please feel free to let me know.

Warm Regards,

Tracy W”

Evasion tactic

Then, she did something to affix Starbucks all watching eye to my Gmail.  I have since blocked them.

Last Friday I received my free birthday beverage coupon presumably from Matt and today, a letter from Tracy, apologizing “for the experience you brought to my attention” with two more beverage coupons.

Birthday postcard from Matt M.

Letter From Tracy W wth two free beverage coupons.

I suppose if I continue to ask how they knew about my birthday (including the exact year I was hatched and where – 7,349 miles away from Tehran – what’s next the name of Doctor Aloysius Clapthumb, the obstetrician that delivered me?) since I never revealed any of this information myself, they will continue to ignore my question and the free coupons will continue to roll in by the truckload.  Tempting … On the other hand, three free drinks are two too many to this tea drinker, since all I wanted was my free birthday beverage and an explanation about how they know so much more about me than I volunteered.

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