Customer Service Head to Head: Starbucks vs.

 In Blog, Company Review, Inner First Class, Outer First Class

In today’s business environment, your level of service is just as important as the quality of your product. Millions of dollars are spent training customer service agents and creating best practices for service. Yet even with this knowledge base, sometimes companies still fall short. Others are superstars. While what makes the difference is a question I will leave to the experts, as consumers all we care about is the end result: how did the experience make us feel?

I recently had two very different customer services experiences, one with and the other with Starbucks. I’ll provide the highlights and texts of the emails that we exchanged.

Let’s start with This company provides a snack service. They send a four or eight snack box each week, every other week, or monthly as you select. Their snacks are unique (Chai Latte nut mix, Jelly Donut fruit/nut mix) and are non GMO with no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial flavors or dyes and no trans fats. I was interested to give them a try and happened to have a code for a free four snack box.

I signed up for the weekly four snack box and entered my code. Later that day or the day after I noticed that you could get an eight snack box every other week and it was a better deal, so I changed my order accordingly. I received an eight snack box but never got my free four snack box, so I contacted their customer service department. Here is the exchange:


Hello, When I signed up I entered a code for a free 4 snack box and I received my first 8 snack box but never received my free box. The code I used was [REDACTED]. Thanks.

Thanks for reaching out. I am sorry about any confusion regarding the account. Upon review I see that the order for the 4 snack variety box was not placed. As the free box is only applicable to 4 snack variety boxes, your purchase of the 8 snack variety box is nit applicable to the offer. You can place an order for the 4 snack variety box from the home page here: Let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with.


I signed up originally for the four snack box and changed it later after I saw the 8 box was available. If I do not receive the free four snack box as promised I’ll be cancelling my subscription.

You confirmed that you changed it to the 8 snack box, therefore the 4 snack box order was no longer active. As previously mentioned the offer is still available in the account. However you will need to actively place an order for a one time 4 snack variety box from the home page: Let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with.

So, if I order more of your product than required you will no longer honor your offer of a free box. And if I tell you you’ll no longer get my said additional business if you fail to honor the offer, you tell me I need to order even more product in order to get what was offered to me to begin with. Hmmmm.

I was very disappointed in this exchange. I had found the snacks to be interesting and different as well as fairly nutritious, although pretty expensive ($11.99 for eight snacks averaging one ounce each). If they had sent me the free box I probably would have kept the service on for a few months and been willing to recommend it to others. Unfortunately for them, I do keep my word and cancelled my subscription upon receipt of the final email. Bummer!

By contrast, I also had an exchange with the Starbuck’s customer service center shortly after the one with Graze. I love their VIA instant coffee (the only instant coffee I’ve found that I like…it’s delicious, and you’d never guess it was instant). In some of the boxes of the VIA I’ve been getting these codes for “stars.” Being curious, I went online and ended up registering a Starbucks gift card I’d gotten a few months ago and started entering star codes.

I noticed that you get a freebie on your birthday. How exciting – my birthday was only a few days away! So I took my card to my local Starbuck’s on my birthday and was told that my birthday reward was not reflected on my account. (Sad face!) So I contacted Starbuck’s to find out what happened. Here’s the play by play:


Hello, I went to Starbucks yesterday, on my birthday, and used my registered card so I would receive my birthday reward. However, I was told that no birthday reward was showing up on my card. It does appear on my account online, so I was disappointed to be told this. Why did I not get my reward? Thanks.


We’re delighted you contacted us.

First of all, Happy Birthday!  I’m sorry you didn’t receive your Birthday Reward.  I can understand how disappointing that would be.  I’m not able to see why your Birthday Reward didn’t appear, however, I see that you signed up on June 12th.  The terms and conditions state that your account must be created 30 days before your birthday, which may explain why the Reward didn’t show.

I’ve added a Reward for you to use, which should be available within 24 hours and is good until July 24th.  Enjoy!

If you ever have any questions or concerns in the future, please visit us at

In summary, I didn’t read the Terms and Conditions and was not actually eligible to receive the freebie. But, they gave it to me anyway. In addition, the next day I got a follow up survey so they could get feedback on how they did. Starbuck’s gets an EFC gold star for service!

I think has a unique and valuable service with their snack deliveries. If this helps people avoid junky snacks and eat something better, it’s well worth it. I just hope that they can improve their approach to customer service. Maybe they should hire Starbuck’s to do their next customer service training so they can show them how it’s done!



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