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When this story came out folks thought it was yet another urban legend. I mean, it's unthinkable. The sky is literally falling, emergency crews come in asking for water to treat the injured and you say sure, then hand them a bill for $130 which they end up paying out fo their own pocket.

Well, it's not an urban legend, it happened, and Starbucks has apologized, while throwing in a whack at the Seattle PI and IMHO, greatly over inflating the roll that most Starbuck's employees have played since September 11, 2001.

http://www.starbucks.com/aboutus/pressdesc.asp?id=200

We are deeply distressed that on September 11, 2001 following the terrorist attack on New York City, a Midwood Ambulance employee who was working on search and rescue requested water for distribution, and was charged for bottled water at one of our New York locations.

This behavior and response is very troubling, and does not represent who we are as people and as a company. Starbucks representatives, including President and CEO Orin Smith, have made numerous contacts with Midwood Ambulance to address this problem. During our conversations with Midwood, we apologized for this incident, and reimbursed the $130.00 that was spent on the water. The CEO of Midwood Ambulance has accepted our apology.

Today's column by Robert Jamieson of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is not only irresponsible,


...OK, here is the dig, but this is where it starts getting a little deep...

but it is damaging to the morale of the thousands of Starbucks partners (employees) in New York City who risked their lives to support the relief workers and hospital workers during this crisis.

Say what? I mean THIS is overstating the roll big time. I sincerely doubt that Starbuck's partners, err employees, were rushing up the stairs of WTC Tower I behind the firefighters holding their mocha latte's for them. After it all came down the biggest risk they took was breathing in some pulverised concrete dust, right along with everyone other person in lower Manhattan.

Starbucks has freely given thousands of pounds of coffee, tea, pastries and water to the Red Cross to aid the relief efforts. Our partners have given countless hours of volunteer time and many have worked around the clock to provide coffee for the workers.

Yup, and they have pledged to give $1,000,000 - all very noble acts.

Mr. Jamieson did not speak to Starbucks representatives in depth and did not try to reach Orin Smith or Howard Schultz as stated in his column.

Now I find that hard to believe. If the glove don't fit, you have to acquit. Problem is when it was all said and done, the glove slid right on Starbuck's hand. If the rest of the story is correct, than why is this part not?

If he had spoken to a Starbucks person about the details of our efforts, he would have learned that Starbucks partners are continuing to support all the coffee needs at the Red Cross Family Victim Center at Pier 94; that partners from the Tribeca location at Chambers and West Broadway, and the Park Row location across from City Hall (within the secured perimeter) are continuing to support the relief efforts; and that from the very beginning of the crisis, the Greenwich and Banks store provided coffee to St. Vincent's Hospital workers.

This still doesn't change the fact that some bozo partner without brain cell one acted like a profiteering creep, and was, "risking his life," while charging $130 for 72 bottles of Poland Springs water. Water that was probably destined for ground zero - where people not only risked their lives but actually died.

Consequently, our partners, whose Herculean efforts are being misrepresented in Mr. Jamieson's misleading column, are hurt and demoralized. We acknowledge the problem experienced by Midwood Ambulance. We have addressed the problem and we must now lift up the spirits of our partners who have done so much to help the people of New York City and in all impacted areas.

Well, I'm sorry that your partners, err employees spirits are down and now you need a lift. I suggest a triple shot in their next latte. That always gives me a lift.

Now, before the flame throwers come out.

Q: Is it wrong to harp on SBUX over this? I mean they are giving a million damn dollars here?

A: It is one story of hundreds. I won't deny the Seattle-PI op-ed piece could have been more objective, and it did not mention the efforts of Starbucks (but it did state that Midwood had been reinbursed). It doesn't erase this incident, which by the way was also picked up by the National news networks and reported last night.

Q: Is it wrong for SBUX to defend themselves?

A: Of course not. However stating that their employees are risking their lives handing out coffee is insulting to the crews who are really risking their lives. There is a big difference between being in the rear with the gear, and on the front line. Any civilian that was risking their life was moved out of lower Manhattan within hours of the building coming down. Further, outright calling the writer of the story a liar, wrong. Why? He was right on every other point.

Q: So what should have SBUX done then? Nothing?

A: Of course not. This would have been a better press release if they had followed what they were taught pack in PR 101. Obviously the forgot:

We are deeply distressed that on September 11, 2001 following the terrorist attack on New York City, a Midwood Ambulance employee who was working on search and rescue requested water for distribution, and was charged for bottled water at one of our New York locations.

This behavior and response is very troubling, and does not represent who we are as people and as a company. Starbucks representatives, including President and CEO Orin Smith, have made numerous contacts with Midwood Ambulance to address this problem. During our conversations with Midwood, we apologized for this incident, and reimbursed the $130.00 that was spent on the water. The CEO of Midwood Ambulance has accepted our apology.

Today's column by Robert Jamieson of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is not only irresponsible, but it is damaging to the morale of the thousands of Starbucks partners (employees) in New York City...supporting the relief workers and hospital workers during this crisis. Starbucks has freely given thousands of pounds of coffee, tea, pastries and water to the Red Cross to aid the relief efforts. Our partners have given countless hours of volunteer time and many have worked around the clock to provide coffee for the workers.

Starbucks partners are continuing to support all the coffee needs at the Red Cross Family Victim Center at Pier 94...[P]artners from the Tribeca location at Chambers and West Broadway, and the Park Row location across from City Hall (within the secured perimeter) are continuing to support the relief efforts...and...from the very beginning of the crisis, the Greenwich and Banks store provided coffee to St. Vincent's Hospital workers.

We acknowledge the problem experienced by Midwood Ambulance...and...we have addressed the problem. Our partners will continue to do as much as possible to help the people of New York City and in all impacted areas.


See, that gets the point across, throw the dart they want to throw, puffs up their efforts without being dramatic. PR 101 - who, what, where, when, why, how. Stick to the facts. Whoever wrote the original press release, and whoever approved it should be slapped. Stuff like this does not give me warm fuzzy feelings about SBUX
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