In Brevity: Starbucks?! Starfucks!!
This week Starbucks announced changes to their rewards program. What does it mean?
Don’t worry. I’m here to break it down brevity-style. No, not breve. Starbucks “baristas” don’t know that word.
Why the change? According to Starbucks Newsroom official website it was done “based on the #1 customer request” to have more stars. In other words, you asked for this. Look what you made us do!
In the way back I’d heard about Starbucks stars. I drank there when it was in my face and I wanted coffee so I enthusiastically figured, “What the hell?” I signed up and gave it a try.
Membership has it’s snivileges. –Ed.
The new gold card’s here! The new gold card’s here! I’m somebody now! Millions of people look at this card every day! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity, your name in print, that makes people. I’m in print! Things are going to start happening to me now.
I walked confidently into the corner coffee shop. I got in line and waited a quarter hour. Finally it was my turn. I cleverly placed my order. “I’ll have a chestnut praline latte with a twist. Shaken, not stirred. Make it a grande.” I whipped the gold card out of my camouflage wallet and presented it to the barista. Light from the trendy overhead track lighting reflected and momentarily blinded her. “The name’s Taker. Tom B. Taker.”
Several women in the vicinity immediately swooned and removed their tops. Decisions, decisions.
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My wife and I were driving around the big city on a Sunday morning. It was almost lunchtime. We had skipped breakfast.
“I could go for some kibble,” I said.
“Actually,” she replied. “Me, too.”
I was a little surprised but excited, too. We were going to eat out. But where? We took out our daggers and prodded each other, as we are often wont to do.
“Wherever you want,” I said.
“No,” she replied menacingly. “Wherever you want.”
Clink. Clink. Clink. The cold steel of our daggers danced their elegant dance.
“Let’s go to the bar you wanted to try. The one with the fried chicken.”
“The hell you say!” I turned the car around. “We’re going to that coffee shop you mentioned the other day.”
“All they got is coffee and baked goods.”
“Excellent,” I emoted, channeling Commander Kruge, the asshole Klingon from Star Trek III: The Search For Spock. “Perfect. Then that’s the way it shall be.”
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Priced as marked
“This post doesn’t have a price tag? It must be free, right? Ha ha ha ha ha ha!”
In response, the Abyssian customer service associate doesn’t lose his shit and calmly points at the the wall. “Clearly you did not see our sign.” It reads:
“The next customer to crack the ‘it must be free’ joke on an unmarked item will be stabbed in the eye. Thank you for shopping Abyss Inc.”
–Our humorous sign (patent pending)
And no, this post is not free. By reading this far, per our implied EULA buried on some other page you’ve never visited, you already owe me $2.99. I’d immediately quit reading if I were you.
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Coffee, Human Butts, and Greed Math
We went to the trendy new fancy grocery store that opened in our neighborhood this week. We had received a coupon in the mail.
Buy one 12-ounce bag of our “Fedora Blend” and get one free.
Oh, what the hell. We stopped by on opening night.
Recap: We all know what a 12-ounce bag means, right? Deception. Price games. Trying to fuck the consumer. Price concealment. Gee, how do I opt in? I’m a buyer and I don’t want to beware!
So how much was the 12-ounce bag of coffee normally priced? $14 a bag.
With the coupon that made each bag $7 each. I did the math. That’s $9.33 a pound with the coupon. So what’s the normal price? $18.67 a pound. Fuck you.
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Warning: This post contains math. This is not a drill. For those not mathematically inclined you now have sufficient grounds (meh!) to leave us…
To do math, first we’ll need some coffee. To drink that coffee, we’ll need a vessel of some sort. Perhaps a mug.
Ah. I just burned my face. Now we’re ready for some coffee math!
Today’s lesson is that things are not always as they seem. For example, look at that beautiful assortment of bags of pre-ground coffee on the shelf. Wonderful, ain’t it?
How much are they? $7.99 a bag? $8.99 a bag? $9.95 a bag? $12.95 a bag? According to the Walmart.com website, a bag of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (in my experience one of the most expensive) is $7.28 per bag. You’ll even get free shipping if you order $45 worth (or other stuff).
Most of the bags of coffee you see, including this bag of Dunkin’ Donuts, are 12-ounces in size. Wait? What?
Personally I think it is to make apples-to-apples comparisons in pounds more difficult. So how much is that bag of coffee per pound?
First, we calculate the price per ounce. Since “per” is another way of saying “divide by” the formula is simple:
Price ($7.28) per Ounce (12)
$7.28 divided by 12
Answer: $0.61 (61 cents per ounce)
Next, we multiply the cost per ounce by the number of ounces in a pound (16).
$0.61 cost per ounce * 16 ounces in a pound
Aha! That coffee costs $9.71 per pound.
Why? Wouldn’t one-pound bags make a lot more logical sense? Since that’s a unit we already know and love? A unit that we’ve been raised with since the moment of our birth?
Perhaps I’m just in a black mood, but I think they like 12-ounce sizing because it makes the consumer feel the price is lower. “It’s only $7.28 a bag,” we are wont to say.
“$9.71 per pound” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. All of the sudden we’re talking upwards of a $10 note. Yikes. Consumer no buy-buy. Game over.
My wife just brought home a bag of coffee from a local shop. And guess what? It was in a one-pound bag and only $8. Now that’s refreshing. Sorry, Walmart. Your price sounds lower but it isn’t*.
* Disclaimer: Identical brands of coffee were not compared.
Frying Off The Handle
As a man of science, you think I’d be comfortable with a microwave, a device handy for exciting my molecules.
I placed my mug of cold coffee in the microwave and closed the door. Using my trusty slide rule I calculated the optimum time. As the seconds ticked down I watched through the meshy window just in case things came to a boil.
Thankfully they did not.
The microwave chirped a friendly beep beep beep so I opened the door and took out the mug. I examined the dark fluid closely.
All seemed well. I stroked my chin thoughtfully. “Hmm,” I said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a flat calm.”
I put the mug on the counter, ensconced the sugar bowl in my loving arms and cued up a teaspoon of sweet heavenly goodness.
As the sugar cascaded into the mug it exploded I was knocked on my ass by a shock wave of exactly 1.21 gigawatts. Covered in burning liquid, I staggered to my feet. Only a crater remained where my mug had been moments before.
I realized I was crying. “Hot water burn baby!!!” I yelled.
Experts later determined the blast was equivalent t .42% of the nuclear device set off my North Korea just last week. So I’m in good company.