Update 12/31/08: I was in the Starbucks near my office today, and the blackboard announced a sale price on Starbucks' "Christmas Blend." I don't know that this post had anything to do with that, but whether it did or not: Thank you, Starbucks!
Well, I may have found one place I can cut my budget: Starbucks.
I don't usually write anything here that is snarky or "in your face". I am pretty sure that the e-mail that I sent to Starbucks Customer Service yesterday is the first one of its kind that I have sent to any company, at least for several years. But it struck me, while I was in the store yesterday, that the word "holiday" instead of "Christmas" was in use where it didn't seem to serve a purpose. It was even a little bit depressing. And I sent them a short e-mail. I don't think it was offensive. It just said what I felt.
The e-mail I got back used the word "holiday" 10 times, mentioned Hanukkah 2 times, and carefully avoided the word "Christmas". It seemed pretty obnoxious to me, but maybe I was just surprised at the tenor of the e-mail.
I have no problem with stores celebrating both Christmas and Hannukkah. I have done that myself with Jewish friends in the past. It is not the acknowledgment of other faiths' holidays that I find upsetting, but rather the over-the-top secularism where it serves no purpose.
I have been a regular at the Starbucks near my office for a long time, although the coffee that I drink at home is Peet's which I think is higher quality. Peet's used to have a Christmas Blend each year, a long time ago. I thought it was a little bit sad when they changed the name of it to Holiday Blend -- probably a long enough time ago to date me. But I still buy it.
But here is a copy of my e-mail to Starbucks Customer Service and a copy of their entire response to me today. Does anybody think I was out of line in saying what I felt? Does anybody think the Starbucks response was appropriate, especially given that they are closing stores and losing customers as it is in this recession?
My e-mail to Starbucks (with my emphasis):
Starbucks' In-Your-Face E-Mail Response (with my emphasis and their reply e-mail address in case anyone else would like to reply):
Thank you for contacting Starbucks Coffee Company.
At Starbucks Coffee Company, we value and embrace the diversity of our partners (employees) and customers. During the months of November and December, a time when various holidays are celebrated, Starbucks retail locations are decorated with fun, festive, and seasonal holiday colors and icons. Additionally, we offer customers seasonal holiday beverages and merchandise.
During the holiday season, familiar icons can be seen throughout the stores. These include festive trees, silver bells, ornaments, candles and snowflakes. The seasonal colors representing the holiday season are also used, including bright red, white and silver. Over the years, our customer feedback has indicated that these are the colors that exemplify the holiday season.
We work closely with our local operations teams to identify the needs of local customers and to offer relevant merchandise for specific holidays. Many stores offer Hanukkah items during the holidays. Upon request, a store manager can order a specific holiday item for a customer. Additionally, stores have core holiday items that can be used to create a nice Hanukkah gift pack.
Again, thank you for contacting Starbucks. If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact us at email@example.com or call 1-800-23-LATTE to speak directly with a Customer Relations representative.