Starbucks Refusal Hurts Barnes and Noble Employees


I met a customer at the local Barnes and Noble bookstore over the weekend.  We both decided to grab a cup of coffee.  My customer, Kathy, is a loyal – no, more like an obsessed Starbucks fan. Everyday she has to have her Starbucks – not just in the morning but several throughout the day. So, of course, she has a Starbucks card. She handed it to the employee behind the cafe counter.

“I’m sorry but we don’t take the Starbucks card.”

“But the Starbucks logo is on the menu, the coffee you are pouring is Starbucks and the apron you have on has the Starbucks logo emblazoned across the front.”

“Yes, I know, but Starbucks won’t allow us to take their cards.”

She went on to tell us that the Barnes and Noble officials had approached Starbucks and offered to set up the system to take their cards and coupons but Starbucks refused.

Here’s the gig.  Who is left to enforce that corporate decision? Who is left to disappoint the customer? Who is faced with ridicule when a customer gets angry?

The employee.

Just like my recent story of CVS and Moneygram who partnered up to offer additional services to customers yet refuse to support them, here is Starbucks plastering their brand name all over the Barnes and Noble cafe and yet refusing to allow customers a true Starbucks experience.

Who looks bad? Everyone.  Who is impacted? Not Starbucks. Not even Barnes and Noble. It is the employee that has to face the grief and the customer who is faced with disappointment.

When corporations get together and decide to combine brands – do they think these decisions through from the frontline experience perspective?

I think not.

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3 thoughts on “Starbucks Refusal Hurts Barnes and Noble Employees

  1. Julie-Ann on said:

    That poor employee! Partnerships in business should benefit the customers, the businesses involved and the employees. When they don’t, everyone suffers. It’s a real shame that Barnes & Noble and Starbucks can’t seem to get their act together. Other businesses, however, can learn a lesson or two from your experience. This piece ( highlights some ways to create partnerships that actually benefit everyone involved.

  2. I have never bought coffee in a starbucks in a Barnes and Noble since I found out they don’t take the Starbucks card. I will stop at WaWa and bring my coffee in B n N and sit there and use my iPad. WaWa coffee is better anyway.

  3. I work at Barnes and nobles cafe and its hard on all the employes and including myself when customers get upset and complain that we don’t take Starbucks gift cards or gold memberships. They get angry at us and storm off. I’m a lead so when my team comes to me to help them deal with it, I always get yelled and dirty angry looks from the customers. When I explain to them that we’re not an actual Starbucks that were Barnes and nobles cafe SERVING Starbucks coffee they alway pull the “but it says Starbucks on it!” And just have a dramatic exit. It is really tough and I always feel bad telling a customer no.

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