Starbucks sucks at names. So let’s… do loads more names?!

I don’t get this:

It’s a very lovely ad and a warm, emotional, sweet idea. Starbucks will be writing names on everyone’s drinks in the UK from now on, like they do in America, to make things less impersonal. And they’re giving away a free latte on the 14th to promote the idea.


The theory of Starbucks baristas and the reality have long been at odds with one another. I know someone who worked on the brand and came out of a workshop eulogising that the baristas were “well-trained, true coffee lovers” – what? No. Half the time I have to repeat my order at least a kabillion times and then they still get it wrong. And as for coffee lovers? Hardly. One actually responded ‘euch’ when someone ordered a double espresso in front of me.

So this idea that suddenly they’re going to be amazing at an extra task, ie hearing your name right and crucially, spelling it correctly – is a joke. It’s not exactly working in the US, as the ‘Starbucks Name Game’ and ‘Starbucks got my name wrong’ blogs will attest:

This girl’s name was Cheyenne. Yes, that says ‘Shame’…

So why bring it in here? This reeks of a company whose higher-ups are so far above the coalface that they have no idea what they’re asking. Yes, in theory, it’s a great idea (and for the record, I like the ad and its execution). But in practice, would you rather get a latte that said ‘latte’, or ask for John and get ‘Dong’?


8 thoughts on “Starbucks sucks at names. So let’s… do loads more names?!

  1. Hjonesy says:

    Hmmm…bit sceptical of this idea, mainly because I’ve been stood at the violent scrum that is the delivery end of the Starbucks counter whilst everyone is straining to listen out for their coffee order to be announced.
    Several times before people have shot off with my coffee order clasped in their hands and I’ve had to wait until their order eventually arrives. I just wonder what will happen when the barista calls out “Dave?” and 10 hands all go up. Does it still have the coffee type written on it, or will the 10 Daves in the queue all have to open, sniff and taste the coffee to check if it’s theirs?

  2. copybot says:

    I presume they’ll still do that thing where they tick boxes on the side of the cup and write in some unintelligible scrawl a shorthand for a drink type that no one else understands.

    But yes, people with common names are screwed. I propose we use this as an excuse for elaborate Starbucks pseudonyms. I once had a Sainsbury’s name badge that said ‘Tinkerbell’ – might go with that.

  3. Tom Albrighton says:

    I’d like to think they couldn’t get ‘Tom’ wrong. But I’ve been called ‘Tim’ a LOT of times in my life.

    I can see people abusing this, e.g. giving their name as ‘Horatio Hornswoggler’ or similar. Then they will have to spell it. Then the people behind them in the queue will be infuriated at the delay and punch them in the face. No good can come of this initiative, mark my words.

  4. Steve says:

    Just the coffee please. I’m a friendly sort of fellow, but I’m still a customer first, let’s not pretend you’re going to be my friend. You’ve already forgotten. I can see this putting off as many reserved Brits as it attracts.

  5. Louisa says:

    They do the name thing in Barcelona. My sister, Holly, ordered a latte and they wrote ‘Colin’ on her cup. So funny.

  6. Carl says:

    Harsh bunch! While I’m happy to admit that this is largely one of those big-brand, corporate, ‘only a committee could come up with this’ idea, I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    It seemingly is a response to the idea that your local, indy coffee house is usually a more friendly, on first name terms kinda place. If Starbucks have been made to respond, well, that can’t be a bad thing. Do you think they would be falling over themselves to pay fair prices to suppliers unless the customers pushed them into it?

    Yes, some baristas will get names wrong, but considering how much coffee they shift every day, I’ll wager the percentage is teeny-weeny small. And I’ve been to plenty of indies where the service ain’t been to great either. Bad is bad, great is great, irrespective of size.

    In a small way, today is a more friendly place than yesterday. And my free coffee this morning was very nice, and served by a lovely bunch of peopole. Kudos.


  7. megalongcat says:

    As a man in the states, I can safely say they’ve never gotten my name right. My diction is impeccable, and yet “Fred” still sounds like: Chad, Brad, Jeff, Frank, Cheff & Fran.

    Plenty of good will come of this, I expect to be filled with enjoyable pictures of name pranks & misspellings. Maybe someone will turn this into a great campaign or an art project…

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