Monday, March 21, 2016

Problems with Starbucks Mobile Orders

First things first--I love Starbucks. Yes, they are somewhat overpriced, but as someone who 
works from home, being able to go out, socialize a little with baristas, and relax in a place away from home is invaluable. Plus I am totally addicted to the fraps. A while ago, Starbucks rolled out a mobile order program that, from what I hear, has been pretty successful. I've used it extensively and like it, but there have been a few problems.

1) Orders go through to closed stores: I live in Vancouver, Washington (moving soon to Ellensburg, though).  Twice, I have placed orders that have transmitted regularly to closed stores. In the first instance, the store was closed due to water leaks. Luckily, someone was at the drive-through window to refund my purchase. In the second case, last night, I put in my order, and showed up at a closed store that was in the middle of a team meeting.

Really really really embarrassing for me, and probably for them, too. The folks there deliberated for awhile what to do (I had asked for my money back), and they decided to make my frap. I was appreciative of that, and while I waited, I asked if there is a system in place enabling a store to close off mobile orderings for situations like this (or closure due to water leaks, etc.). They did not know. No one knew. So either Starbucks needs to brush up on training to educate workers how to do this, or actually implement this turn-off feature if one does not currently exist. Now I'm afraid I will put in a mobile order sometime to a store that is closed, with no one there, and I will be out a good chunk of change. (P.S. My frap order was made wrong, but I did not ask for a remake due to the situation already being as weird as it was.)

2) The app does not work with my cellphone: I recently bought a cellphone (LG Risio). Before that, I had been using my iPad with shaky cell service for my Starbucks app. All went well for a month with the LG Risio, then the app stopped working. I deleted it to reinstall, but it would not reinstall. The Google Play store simply said the app was incompatible with my phone. While the Starbucks website says this is technically Google's deal to take care of, I would like more information on why. Why can't Starbucks develop an app that works on this very popular and common phone?

3) Consistency is needed: Some stores leave mobile orders at the drive-through window. Others have a dedicated basket located more toward the in-store part for folks to pick up their orders. Other stores simply keep their orders wherever the baristas think to put them. If stores are not consistent with behavior, they should at least be consistent with labeling; for example, having a basket with the label MOBILE ORDERS PICKUP, wherever it is. Worker training also needs to be more consistent, I think. Some workers don't start on my mobile order until I actually show up and ask for it, despite there being no line, etc. in the store.

4) The apps require some tweaking: I wish there was a way to set a default location (or list of preferred locations) so that GPS location tracking would not have to be on. Often, the location the app selects for me is NOT the one I want to go to. And it's a pain to navigate the map to find next-closest location, often the one I do want to go to. I also wish the iPad app was more comprehensive like the cellphone apps are.

Overall, I really appreciate the flexibility of mobile ordering, but sometimes it is more trouble than it is worth. I really want my app to work on my phone. Please, please, please? :) Starbucks runs these promotions where you get free stars for putting in mobile orders, so I am relegated to sitting in a store (or outside, in my car), putting in a mobile order with the sometimes clunky interface, and going in because I have to use my iPad to connect to the Wi-Fi.

I do love Starbucks, and the mobile ordering system has nowhere to go but up. I hope this feedback helps somewhere out in the blue yonder.

P.S. I am moving to Ellensburg soon, as I touched on earlier. None (!!!) of the Starbucks there have comfortable seating, like is common elsewhere. The same seems true of Yakima. Vancouver may have spoiled me, but I would be ever so grateful if a few comfy armchairs could be placed in either the college campus or freeway stop Starbucks in Ellensburg. Mwahies!

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