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.

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