- Starbucks’ on-app inventory isn’t always accurate, say current and former baristas.
- This means that sometimes customers can order food or drink that is not in stock, they said.
- Baristas said some customers get angry when they can’t make their drinks.
If you’ve ever ordered something from the Starbucks app just to be notified by a barista when you go to get your drink that they don’t have the ingredients in stock, then you’re not alone.
Twenty-one current and former Starbucks baristas told Insider that the app sometimes doesn’t update when ingredients run out, which means people can order food or drinks that can’t be prepared. .
This occasionally angered customers and disrupted workflow as they had to process refunds or find substitutes for out-of-stock ingredients, according to baristas.
Current and former baristas have also said they cannot communicate with customers through the app. This meant that they couldn’t tell them the ingredients were out of stock until they came to the store to collect their drinks.
“It was so painful because people were ordering and there is literally nothing you can do until they come in and are pissed off,” said Nicholas Anderson, a former barista in Atlanta.
A Starbucks spokesperson told Insider, “A visit to Starbucks is an important part of our customers’ day and we apologize for any inconvenience when an item is not available. When our customers are planning their visit, we recommend that they use the Starbucks app to check item availability. “
Problems allow customers to order out-of-stock items, workers say
The baristas attributed the inventory problems to three main issues.
First, the app was sometimes slow to update inventory or just didn’t update it at all, they said.
Second, some ingredients could not be turned off by staff.
And third, customers could rearrange their favorites or recent orders on the app, even when ingredients were listed as out of stock, they said.
Baristas said that in order to list a product as out of stock, staff must deactivate the product in two places on the electronic ledger – both the primary point of sale (POS) system and the primary inventory system.
Alexis Rivera, a former shift supervisor in New Jersey, said customers could sometimes still order ingredients even if baristas stopped them at both locations.
“Sometimes deactivating an item at the point of sale turns it off for mobile. Sometimes it doesn’t,” said a former barista in British Columbia, who asked to remain anonymous because she could return to work at Starbucks. .
A former store manager in New York City, who asked to remain anonymous because his family worked at Starbucks, said the company told him the stock could take between 30 and 60 minutes to update on the app. He added that customers could sometimes order items from
even though they were out of stock too.
Baristas also said that some ingredients could not be listed as out of stock, anyway. “There were some products that we couldn’t even remove from the app,” said Gary Ladewig, a former shift supervisor in Waukegan, Ill..
“It was a big deal,” said Kelly Preston, a former Atlanta barista.
Among the products that the baristas said could not be “turned off” or listed as unavailable included espresso, tea, chai, cinnamon powder, caramel drizzle, heavy cream, cold foam. with sweet cream, Splenda sweeteners and honey. Different baristas from different places listed different ingredients.
The former BC barista said staff can turn off drinks containing these ingredients, but not the ingredients themselves.
“You can manually go in and turn off the caramel macchiatos with the item availability button. But you can’t actually go to main item availability and turn off the caramel drizzle,” she said.
Rivera stated that staff could not “properly shut off” the cold brew and cold nitro brew on the app as well.
The former BC barista added that there are two ways to order a blonde espresso in the app – either by ordering the designated blonde version of the drink or by ordering the regular and changing the espresso. in blonde.
“The second option allows you to order a blond espresso even if it is disabled in the mobile order,” she said.
Some baristas have said Starbucks fixed issues with some of these ingredients, meaning baristas may list them as out of stock. Ladewig, for example, said baristas had previously been unable to deactivate some syrups, but Starbucks had changed that.
The third problem allows customers to bypass unavailability of items.
When customers have saved an item to their favorites or recent orders, they can order the drink again even if the ingredients are out of stock, some baristas said. Jennifer Romero, a former barista in Florida, attributed this to a “bug” in the app.
And, on top of the issues, some baristas have said their store staff don’t always update item inventory.
Eric Fellner, a former barista in North Carolina, said that sometimes when his store is very busy, staff don’t have time to update inventory when an item is out of stock. It was easier to apologize and give replacement drinks, he said.
A current barista in Minneapolis, who asked to remain anonymous to protect her job, said staff sometimes forgot to turn off products if her store was also busy.
Baristas: customers get angry when they say we can’t prepare their drinks
A current barista in Tennessee, who asked to remain anonymous to protect his job, said customers sometimes didn’t understand why they could order these ingredients on the app and baristas didn’t have answers.
A former Indiana barista, who asked to remain anonymous because she could return to work at Starbucks, said customers were asking questions such as “I paid for this, where is it?” and “If he was out, how could I have ordered it?” “.
Fellner said it would lead to “embarrassing conversations” with customers. The former BC barista said customers would go “really crazy”.
Anderson said the staff “would look like assholes” and customers were “infuriated, annoyed and rude.” He said it added delays that interrupted “the whole workflow.”
Baristas said they apologized to customers who ordered drinks with ingredients not available.
Fellner said that in his store, baristas would offer customers any replacement drink, regardless of the price. He added that most mobile ordering customers were in a rush and wouldn’t waste time arguing over their drink order.
But some customers wanted refunds instead. Nat El-Hai, a former barista in Beverly Hills, and Romero both said mobile order refunds could be slow because they require a different system than regular in-store refunds. “People are really mad at you,” El-Hai said.
Starbucks baristas say mobile orders cause a series of complications beyond inventory issues.
“The whole mobile ordering system is really bad,” El-Hai told Insider.
Baristas said in some cases the app caused in-store delays, led to rudeness from customers and put pressure on them to make TikTok-inspired drinks.
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