Starbucks beats Facebook rant

A student social media criticism of coffee chain Starbucks in Singapore has backfired – demonstrating public opinion can fall on the side of retail businesses.

Selfish student Huixin Yap and her friends left their text books on a table while they left the cafe for 30 minutes. She complained on Facebook that staff of Starbucks in CityLink Mall cleared their table and put their belongings into a basket.

On Facebook, she admitted she and her friends should not have hogged the seat, but said she was upset the Starbucks manager “lectured” them, according to a story in the Straits Times.

But the internet community had little sympathy for the students, overwhelmingly backing the Starbucks staff – with many pointing out the problem finding tables at cafes where students occupy a set for hours buying just a single drink.

Starbucks has – somewhat controversially – phased out free internet in some Asian markets due to the ongoing problem of customers abusing the service. In Bangkok, customers have to pay for an expensive and complex password activated service sold via a third party, if they do not have their own data plan.

In Vietnam passwords are printed on Starbucks receipts which provide free WiFi access limited to 60 minutes. (They supply two or even three passwords to cater for customers with phones and laptops, or where more than one person is dining).

Starbucks responded to the student’s Facebook complaint by acknowledging they could have communicated better – but said it would not be reprimanding the store manager.

“We try our best to make sure Starbucks is a cafe that can be enjoyed by all and that everyone feels welcome at our stores. That includes improving our service standards but also communicating our policies.”

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