The Business-Technology Weave

Oct 22 2010   10:36AM GMT

A Model for Tearing the Weave: Starbucks, Security and Safety – Pt. I

David Scott David Scott Profile: David Scott

 I’ve stumbled on something rather disturbing regarding Starbucks’ business practices.  First, let me say that Starbucks is not a client of mine:  Therefore, I’m free to speak without fear of divulging any client confidentialities – I would never speak about clients here anyway, without express permission, and an identified reason. 

Also, my recent observations and engagements with Starbucks are from a purely business point-of-view on my part.  There is nothing personal here, and I harbor no animosity against Starbucks – in spite of some rather interesting customer engagements I experienced.  I merely observed an ongoing bad business practice, and expressed some polite concern.

Let me now set the stage (all names have been changed, save mine):

As readers (hopefully) know, I’m a big proponent of security in business and data environments.  It would be difficult for any of us business and IT pros not to be – hardly a news bulletin. 

Security not only includes computer systems and associated content (central and dispersed), but physical security aspects as well.  In fact, the protection of business and all associated assets includes manifestly physical protections:  Locked rooms, sign-in and sign-out logs, locked safes and cabinets, careful handling of money, appropriate accounting of money, and so on. 

In protecting a business, we also must recognize that customers and staff are also assets, and best business practices are central to protecting those people.  Physical business security promotes safety and ongoing surety. 

Any security should also harbor a basic, rather simple, concept:  We shouldn’t tempt thieves.  We don’t want to make ourselves a target.  Therefore we don’t “front” certain light, transportable, easily carried and hidden assets.  Like money.

Well… most of us don’t.

A few weeks ago, this writer was laboring mightily on behalf of this blog when I noticed something peculiar:  There was a large stack of money on a counter.  A pile of bills.  Unattended.  It was at least 6 inches high.  Further, it was on the counter next to the food and drink display case, and this counter itself is used to prepare food and drink.

I’m no prude, but my first thought was:  Money is dirty.  It is generally kept well-clear of surfaces where food is handled.  Starbucks uses plates, of course, but still…  I approached the counter and spoke to the nearest barista (Starbuck’s preferred term for their customer service folks, for the uninitiated).  Very politely I said, “Hey Helen, there’s a big stack of money here…”.  I was about to continue that it made me uncomfortable, but Helen snapped, “Dave, I’ve been extremely busy.”  I understand being busy, so I merely continued, “Well, it makes me uncomfortable to see it here unattended…”.  I was informed that this is where the money was always counted.  (This, despite a desk and computer in the back, where I would presume the accounting information would eventually be entered…).

I very politely asked to speak to the manager, “Jackie.”  I was told that she was in the Bahamas. I returned to my work.  But presently, with the money remaining on the counter for over an hour (and still there upon my departure), I decided to make contact with Starbucks corporate headquarters.  Under the Customer Service tab on the website, I was heartened to see that they’re “here to listen” and that they want me to enjoy my trip to Starbucks every time I visit the store.  They provided a physical address:  Starbucks Customer Relations, P.O. Box 3717, Seatle, WA  98124-3717.

I wrote a very nice letter.  I will post the letter tomorrow, and then pick up this series with Part II, and Part III, where I’ll detail Starbucks subsequent interactions with me, and what they told me about the handling of money vis-à-vis business security.  There are also a number of other violations of standards as indicated in The Weave, and general common sense business-dictates.  I’ll detail those too – there are some great lessons…

You won’t want to miss the discussion of their business posture.

Until tomorrow…

October 22nd:  On this day in 1746, Princeton University (NJ) received its charter.



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