Why Starbucks Annoys Me

Starbucks is one of my favorite places to hang out; an office away from office. The open and welcoming layout and friendly Baristas more than make-up for the less than stellar and over caffeinated brew they serve. The constant ringing of the phone is such an annoyance, that I love escaping to one of the four cafes within a block of my office (and my apartment), logging on to the T-Mobile wifi network, and answering the email which piles up faster than dirty laundry in a dorm-room. These visits have been one-constant in my daily schedule that fluctuates like an EKG.

Lately, these visits have become less pleasant.
Why? Loud music.

Starbucks has been shilling the Hear Music CDs and is piping that music into its stores via Satellite Radio. And they are playing this music loud. Its not just loud, it blares, making it almost impossible to have a conversation, or entirely focus on the email you want to answer, an article you want to draft, or simply enjoy taking a few minutes off a very busy day. I have started to arrange meetings in alternate locations, like Peet’s or Tully’s or even the conference room in Business 2.0 offices.

Just because damn Starbucks is too loud. Am I the only one who finds this annoying?

Andy Abramson suggested that it was intentional, and they want to use the loud music to shoo-out folks who sit there using their space, and not generate enough dollars/square foot. That might be so… of course, it very well could be that they (and T-Mobile) don’t want people to be using too much of their wireless Internet resources (though they would still want the monthly subscriptions I bet.) If that is the case, I wonder how long before Starbucks loses some of its appeal to mobile workers?

Starbucks founder, Chairman and Chief Global Strategist, Howard Schultz was recently heard touting Starbucks as a network and was extolling the virtues of being a super music sales machine. I don’t know, call me old fashioned but focusing on your core business, and keeping the customers happy with things that brought them into the store in the first place is more important than making money from music.