What’s with the Starbucks upsell?

You know you have rearranged your life to include 15 extra Starbucks minutes each day.  But it seems like the 40th anniversary ushered in an era of car dealer-like salesmanship. Is it just me?

Sample 1) I order a small coffee and the guy repeats back “tall drip?” Yeah, whatever. Then the upsell: “No breakfast with that today?” What’s with the no breakfast guilt attempt my friend?  Could you have me in that shiny new car today as well?

How about I order the Ham, Egg & Cheddar?

Guess not.

Sample 2) I order a small coffee and a large coffee. Upsell: “Make the Tall a Grande for 30 cents more?” No thanks, I’ll take a small and a large just like I said.

My friend had a good suggestion.  “Order a Trenta and there’s no where to go from there.”

I get it guys, you need to make money. But going to Starbucks instead of making coffee at home is a trade up for me already.  I may or may not be off base here. So I ask again, is it just me?

Thank you for letting me Venti.


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26 Responses to “What’s with the Starbucks upsell?”

  1. Terez W. Says:

    Ah the “upsell.” I understand the reason for it, but still hate it all the same. I don’t drink coffee, but I have been to many other retailers who do this. It’s very annoying, but I tolerate it because I know the clerk/cashier has been ordered from on high to do it. My response is “no thanks, I have what I want.” Great insights about this Mike.

    • Mike LaMonica Says:

      Good morning Terez-

      By accident, I walked in on a morning meeting at a local retailer yesterday. They weren’t open, but let me in. And I overheard them talking about cross-selling and upselling. I know they have to do it, but it’s annoying. And it confirmed your comment. They salespeople have been ordered by management to do so.

      I really wish they would just act New York deli style where you would give your order and they would automatically say, “what else?” I always found that funny, but not this. Great seeing you and I hope all is well in Terez land.


  2. blackwatertown Says:

    I tend to disregard the official titles too, like Sueanne, and just ask for what I want. I hate it when “tall” = small.

    • Mike LaMonica Says:


      You are the best. I just noticed that I wasn’t properly subscribed to your blog, but now I am. Yes, at Starbucks, it is a land where there is no such thing as small. Unless you insist there is.


  3. sueanne shirzay Says:

    Mike, just do what I do and refuse to say Grande. Instead, look them square in the eye and say “I’d like a medium”. That shocks them enough to render them speechless and unable to utter so much as a “would you like a 600 calories piece of coffeecake with that?” ever again.

  4. robin Says:

    well, maybe they heard the economy is bubbling back up and they’re not going to miss a single extra sip of our cash!

    • Mike LaMonica Says:

      Hi Robin-

      Thank you for stopping in. I would have gotten back sooner but haven’t been to SBUX to get coffee so I’ve been on the sleepy side of things. For some (the stock market had a great week), the economy may be bubbling, but it seems like here comes the fallout inflation. I just went to the market and 2 avocados that were 2 for 3 dollars 2 weeks ago are now 2 for 5. I dunno, I’m not an economist. Have a great day!


  5. Vicequeenmaria Says:

    I have not experienced that because I’m a lame coffee drinker. You really can’t upsell “Small decaf American coffee” LOL

    This is the only place I will order decaf because it tastes the best. And it’s a great place to work away from the home office. Like Rick, I don’t care what people I say, I like Starbucks too.

    • Mike LaMonica Says:


      Damn, it seems like they have the exclusive on crack or something. While many may bitch or complain about this or that (price, the lingo, etc.) many seem to just plain like their coffee. That’s why I make it at home. Their decaf is great as well.

      Thank you for outing yourself here on my wall. Best to you.


  6. Rob Says:

    I guess all of you are already saying no to the Starbucks people and Publix people with their hard core sales pitches. BTW, don’t walk past the boy scout in front on Publix selling a card for $5. That card is immediately good for $5 off (if you spend $50) plus a bunch of other goodies and helps that kid go to camp.

    Anyway, if you’re having trouble saying no, here’s a blog post that may help. http://inoveryourhead.net/advanced-tactics-in-saying-no/ There is a link in that post that gives the Elementary tactics, too.

  7. George Says:

    It’s the same thing at Publix. You cannot go through the check out without being asked to donate to the cause of the day or to purchase a reusable grocery bag. It’s annoying but becoming more prevalent.

    • Mike LaMonica Says:

      George, thank you for that.

      The Publix checkout ambush bugs me as well. Especially because I probably already “bought a shamrock” for the cause they’re pimping. I sure hope they’re matching donation funds because from my shopping alone, they have the money to do it.


  8. Carlos Miller Says:

    Two words: Cuban coffee.

  9. Rick Says:

    I like Starbucks for their coffee even though it’s apparently not trendy to say that. Their coffee isn’t all that more expensive than DD or McDonald’s as long as you stick to the basic non-expresso blends. Start ordering the specialty drinks and get ready for the corresponding “special prices.” But be that as it may, I rarely get asked those questions although I’m in there 5 or 6 times a week. Most likely because I use their lingo and they figure I know what I want. When they first introduced their Via instant coffee, they were trying hard to sell it but even that has died down.

    Did I say I love Starbucks. I did. And I’m not even ashamed or embarrassed. ‘Magine that.


    • Mike LaMonica Says:

      Coming clean here: I love Starbucks too. I just don’t want to feel like I’m in a strip joint trying to get hustled when I’m already giving them good business. Also, I stayed away from the Starbucks lingo bent cause that post would have been so five years ago…

      BTW, I never tried VIA so I’m going to give it a try. See no hard sell needed. Thanks for weighing in and be well.


  10. Annette Says:

    Next they will offer a Starbucks credit card. “Would you like to save 10% on your order today? Your venti triple sweet super calorie double fat coffee will only be $4.95 today and over a year if you have one every day you can waste over a thousand dollars add 25 pounds, but you will be trendy!”

    • Mike LaMonica Says:

      Hi Annette-

      Thanks for ringing in from the coffee capital of the US… actually Starbucks had a credit card but it died in about Feb 2010. I also would imagine you could order one of the trendy drinks all non-fat and be trendy but it would probably not taste so great. Maybe you’d look good walking down the street with it in your hand.

      Best to everyone.


    • Annette Says:

      I should say that I have nothing agianst Starbucks either. I just don’t like that everywhere I shop they are trying to sell their own credit card at 21% APR but you save 10% today. And when I see extra large folks consuming their afternoon “coffee” that amounts to an astronomical calorie and fat count I wonder if they realize this.

  11. Jilly Says:

    My usual girls don’t try the upsell with me…probably because when I am there, it means I am already so frazzled that I am dropping things, ordering the largest sized latte and grabbing lunch for later.

    And I liked the old logo better.

    • Mike LaMonica Says:

      Hi Jilly-

      Knowing you it sounds like the girls at the local Starbucks are just plain smart. Trying to upsell you is not on my list. You want what you want and you get what you get. End.

      And I liked the old logo better too. Gracias.


  12. Rob Says:

    I have never been in a Starbucks before, ever. Once I was an unwilling passenger when my wife went through the drive thru.

    Starbucks prices are ridiculous! That’s probably why I’ve never been there. I prefer McDonalds or Dunkin’ Donuts because of that and because of the unpretentious names they use there for their cup sizes. Or at home or office, made by me.

    Upsell is fine though. That’s business.

    • Mike LaMonica Says:

      Rob, you’re my hero. You and Lorena Lama as she does not own any Apple products…

      The prices are insane. I asked my friend who loaned me the cup for the picture of the Trenta how much it was and he said 4 something. 4 something for coffee?

      I bet that panhandlers are asking for something else than money for coffee these days. By the way, I loved your Top Five post but am having Tweetdeck issues. Pardon if you see 5 RT’s on it. Thanks my friend. ~Mike

  13. Jeannette Says:

    It’s becoming the same everywhere. When you go to McDonald’s they ask if you want to try the newest item on the menu before you’ve even ordered. At Toys R Us, they’re required to ask if you need batteries, whether or not you bought something battery operated. (If they don’t ask, you get a free Pepsi product I think?) It gets annoying after a while. You can venti anytime! ;-P

    • Mike LaMonica Says:

      Hi Jeanette-

      I kind of expect it at a place like McDonald’s. I was wondering what is wrong with the people at Toys R US and now I know. As always, grande thanks.


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