How the Seattle Coffee Co. (Killarney Mall) ripped me off!

I’ve been a Seattle Coffee Co. fan for years now. My favourite store is the Hyde Park Corner store followed by Rosebank, Nelson Mandela Square and Killarney Mall stores tied for 2nd. I’ve probably been a Seattle fan since the chain opened in Joburg and I have had pretty much the same thing for most of that time. I had an experience at the Killarney Mall store this afternoon that really pissed me off.

I popped into the Killarney Mall store for a tall, harmless, Sugar Mommy latte (my favourite drink) after a little shopping for supper tonight. My first shock was the price. I am used to paying around R25 for one of these latte’s and this one cost me R30 (R16 for the latte base and R14 for the two syrups that make it what it is). I mentioned that this was more expensive than I was accustomed to and the guys mumbled something about a price increase. That may well be true and I have suspected that the cashiers at other stores haven’t been too familiar with what goes into one of these lattes and may have been undercharging me. Anyway, I paid for the coffee and dropped a few bucks into the tip bowl like I usually do and sat down.

The barista brought me my latte in a takeaway cup and set it down on my table. I looked at it and thought it looked too small. I have ordered tall latte’s many times in the past and I almost have muscle memory in my right hand based on a tall takeaway cup. I asked the guy if that was supposed to be a tall latte and he looked me in the eyes and told me it was a tall and went back to his spot behind the counter. I picked it up and it definitely felt like a short cut, not a tall but instead of challenging them, I just had my drink, picked up my stuff and left. In retrospect I should have challenged the guy but I just wanted to have a quiet 10 minutes or so while I had my latte before returning home to continue working.

Barring me having a substantial change in how I perceive the sizes of things, this really pissed me off. Its one thing for a barista to make a mistake but to tell me that it is what it really doesn’t seem to be is just not cricket! Now that I am typing this I times when I get caffeine in my coffee when I specifically say I don’t want caffeine and I don’t get the lattes I order even though I seem to be paying for them. This is probably just about training and if it is, it needs to be sorted out. The Vida e Caffe guys certainly seem to be rocking when it comes to making their drinks. I’d probably defect to Vida except they don’t have the lattes I’m used to at Seattle (ok, I know that sounds a little camp but I do spend a fair amount of time in these coffee shops and I am a little averse to change).

Update (26 August 2009): I just received a call from Barry Parker at the Seattle Coffee Co. about this post. His comment is below and he has undertaken to look into this and make sure that no-one else has had a similar negative experience. Once again an example of social media helping businesses improve.

Image credit: “Look, Seattle Coffee Company in Pretoria!” by firesika licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives 2.0 license.

Paul
Enthusiast, writer, strategist and photographer. Inbound Marketing Specialist. Passionate about my wife, Gina and #proudDad. Allergic to stupid

  1. @pbdphoto

    I wonder if there is a tea version of Seattle/Vida? I generally drink tea when I am at home or my main office and hit the coffee when I am out. Usually decaf though although you’ll probably tell me there is worse stuff in there than the caffeine?

  2. @pbdphoto

    I wonder if there is a tea version of Seattle/Vida? I generally drink tea when I am at home or my main office and hit the coffee when I am out. Usually decaf though although you’ll probably tell me there is worse stuff in there than the caffeine?

  3. Hi Paul,

    I read this with distress. I definitely don’t enjoy what I’m reading. My Business Partner Pete works really non stop at the coffee in our stores and bar a really big mistake this is not how he would want your experience in our stores to be. If we’ve fallen short of your expectations mail me your contact info and I’ll call you right back.

    barry at seattleco dot com

    Cheers,

  4. Hi Paul,

    I read this with distress. I definitely don’t enjoy what I’m reading. My Business Partner Pete works really non stop at the coffee in our stores and bar a really big mistake this is not how he would want your experience in our stores to be. If we’ve fallen short of your expectations mail me your contact info and I’ll call you right back.

    barry at seattleco dot com

    Cheers,

  5. Hi Barry, thanks for your comment. I’ll email you separately.

    This is the only Seattle store I don’t frequent anymore because of that experience. I do still visit other stores, primarily the Hyde Park store, for my Seattle fix.

  6. Hi Barry, thanks for your comment. I’ll email you separately.

    This is the only Seattle store I don’t frequent anymore because of that experience. I do still visit other stores, primarily the Hyde Park store, for my Seattle fix.

  7. I have a coffee at the Killarney at least three times a week.I have never been ripped off.I have always been delighted with the coffee quality as well as the service .I can only suggest that perhaps the “mumbler” was a part timer or a new staff member which could perhaps be a heads up for their group to pay more attention to the training of the newbies ,as what a shame to have one barista/waitron ruin what otherwise should have been a great experience. Come on Paul! Give them another chance!

  8. Hi Julie

    I used to be a big fan of that store. The staff were awesome and the lattes were the best I'd had anywhere but that experience put me off. I went back there a couple weeks after my post and my experience was very “meh” compared to stores like the Hyde Park one.

  9. I have a coffee at the Killarney at least three times a week.I have never been ripped off.I have always been delighted with the coffee quality as well as the service .I can only suggest that perhaps the “mumbler” was a part timer or a new staff member which could perhaps be a heads up for their group to pay more attention to the training of the newbies ,as what a shame to have one barista/waitron ruin what otherwise should have been a great experience. Come on Paul! Give them another chance!

  10. Hi Julie

    I used to be a big fan of that store. The staff were awesome and the lattes were the best I'd had anywhere but that experience put me off. I went back there a couple weeks after my post and my experience was very “meh” compared to stores like the Hyde Park one.

  11. Based on what I've read it is true that social media helps to improve businesses especially the small one's. Through social media people can post feedback to the store to improve it's services and products.

  12. Coffee is good to our health unless you abuse drinking it. Many coffee lovers have coffee related health problems because they abuse drinking coffee making it an addiction.

  13. Hi Paul,
    Your post got my attention while I was searching for the contact number for the Seattle branch in Killarney. I worked as a part time barista at the Hyde Park branch whilst I was in high school back in 1998. As an ex barista and now a film maker who is a regular customer at the Seattles that you frequent I understand your frustration. And as much as social media is a great tool to voice your concerns, in aid of better customer service I am old school in my thinking that it is even more effective for customers to make time to voice their concerns with the manager on duty right there and then so that an immediate solution can be initiated. I know for a fact that Barry and Pete put all new baristas through an intensive training programme before they are given the go ahead to work in their assigned store. The managers of the store are also advised to put a strong team member at the till who is confident and in the know about the dynamics of the business. I love the culture that Seattle has created and I look forward to seeing it grow and get better. With this thought let's try hard to turn bad experiences into better experiences. The customer service in South Africa is bad because of us, the customers tend to be too rushed to voice their concerns and let things slide. I am sure Barry has ensured since your post that you don't lose your love for Seattle because of one rainy day.
    Happy drinking 🙂
    Thandiwe.

  14. Hi I’m trying to obtain contact details -an email address- for seattle but I can’t find anything. We’d like a seattle on Wits campus.

  15. Good day all Seattle fan ! I have been a seattle customer for years now. I drink coffee there every single day of my life. I have just had the worst customer service experience ever. Seattle makes the best coffee hand down, but the staff of the Seattle coffee shop in Menlyn Shopping Mall do not appreciate their job. They are rude, they’re not puntual and they treated me like im a dog! I told the one who was so rude to me that i’m going to inform management of his behaviour and guess what he told me? Goodluck with that….I am the manager hahaha. I am so dissapointed in the staff there. I really want to continue buying coffee there, but I dont think that would be a wise decision.

What do you think?

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