Category Archives: Business

Beaucoup Starbucks

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According to Wikipedia there are over 16,858 Starbucks in 50 countries, including over 11,000 in the United States alone. No wonder it seems as if there is a Starbucks on almost every corner. But all Starbucks are NOT created equal, as I learned the past week.

I was in Amarillo, Texas, and just happened to stop in at the Starbucks on S. Soncy Road around noon. I was a little taken back by the uncleanliness on the outside of the premises as I approached, seeing coffee stains on the sidewalk leading up to the building and a dark soiled pathway on the concrete leading into the front entrance. Maybe it had been too cold to power wash the exterior. I would soon find out.

I stepped up to the counter and ordered my usual. “I’ll take a soy mocha with non-dairy whipped cream. Vinti.”

“We don’t have non-dairy whip cream,” the lady taking my order quipped.

“You’re kidding me?” I gasped without even thinking, the words popping out of my mouth like an involuntary audible reflex reaction. Regaining my faculties, I remember thinking to myself that even McDonald’s probably offers non-dairy whipped cream, but keeping my thoughts to myself, I politely passed on the whipped cream answering, “I’ll just take it plain then.”

“That’ll be $5.25”

There were only a few customers inside the S. Soncy Starbucks, but the drive-thru appeared to have a pretty steady stream of traffic, so I had to wait awhile while my drink was prepared. I passed the time by watching the other clerk as she hurriedly filled orders. Whipping up exotic coffee drinks seemed to be the last thing in the entire world she wanted to be doing. I caught her eye once and smiled, but she remained ridged and looked right past my glance.

“Vinti soy mocha, no whip cream,” she hollered out as she sat my cup down hard on the customer pickup counter, and then while turning away, almost as an afterthought, tossed an unfolded cup sleeve onto the counter next to it and walked away.

I fought with the sleeve a moment, finally getting it unfolded and slid onto the hot cup. Off I went.

Maybe it’s just me, but when I pay over $5 for a cup of coffee, I like the sleeve put on the cup for me, like they do in every other Starbucks I’ve been in before or since. Lucky for me there is another Starbucks just a few blocks from there inside a Barnes & Noble Bookstore, because I will not be going back to the S. Soncy Starbucks.

Lucky for me there are… beaucoup Starbucks.

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The Auditors

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Being an accountant for many years, I have worked with a variety of auditors. Most have been eager to learn from me about the livestock industry, while a few have wanted to teach me a thing or two. At the company where I work, this week begins our annual auditing process. We will test, review, document and walk through almost every aspect of our accounting process between now and the time we release our annual financial reports early next year, and maybe even beyond.

“The Auditors,” as we fondly refer to them, came to town this week for their annual inventory observation. For you non-accounting types, “inventory observation” is when brand new auditors right out of college get to put their education to the test by counting stuff. At this company, that involves counting stuff in barns. So I always tell the auditors that when counting livestock, you count the number of hooves and then divide by 4, and if the result does not come out even, you round-up.

This year, however, the first big test for these new auditors was not counting; their big test was just getting here. If you have ever been to Guymon Oklahoma, then you know that the terrain is flat, there are no trees, and you can literally see for miles. If you get lost here, you will know it. “The Auditors” knew they had made a wrong turn. For those unfamiliar with accounting jargon, “wrong turn” is an auditor’s euphemism for “I’m lost.”

While lost somewhere on a dirt road in the Panhandle of Oklahoma, “The Auditors” drove over a big rock in the middle of the road and blew out a tire. I could not make this stuff up. Believe me.

Retelling of their mishap the Senior Auditor mentioned that there were five lug nuts on the tire, but only three holding the spare. I was sure that difference must be within the acceptable margin of error, but I kept it to myself thinking I might want to use that explanation myself later on in the week. Actually, the number of lug nuts had nothing to do with accounting or inventory observation at all. The reason the Senior Auditor was so keen on the lug nut count is that, as the lead auditor, her role was to hold the lug nuts while the guys changed the tire.

But really, switching left and right around could happen to anyone. Plus, it was actually the GPS that told “The Auditors” to make that mistaken turn. As they might say in the audit world, this “deficiency” goes to the GPS. So let me just add a little friendly advice for all those auditors who have ever gotten lost on their way to a field audit, or who ever turned around their left from right, do not trust the GPS, and…

The debits go by the window, the credits by the door.

Can you hear me now?

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About a year ago, Verizon bought out Alltel in my market area. I was very excited about the change because Verizon offered a Smartphone I had wanted that was not available from Alltel. Shortly after the cell provider switch, everyone in the family had to get a new cell phone. A year later I am still thrilled with my new phone, and except for some weak coverage areas on campus where the kids go to school, everyone is pleased with their new phones. Although my wife may need a new battery, as her talk-time never seems to be very good.

Exactly one month ago, I received a text message from Verizon telling me that, on September 25, my voice mail would change over from Alltel to Verizon and I’d need to activate my new voice mail at that time. I did not even realize my voice mail was still on Alltel, but I made a mental note of it.

A few weeks ago, I received an urgent letter from Verizon that read, “Please Read – Action Required – All Voice Mail Users On Your Account.” The letter explained, “Please set up your new voice mail boxes on September 25th. Until your voice mail boxes are set up, your callers will hear a standard greeting.” I sat the letter aside for future reference.

Today, the big voice mail change over day had finally arrived, so I got out my letter and carefully read the set up instructions. I believe it is always beneficial when a company communicates changes, so there are no surprises. Good communication helps manage customer expectations, and Verizon communicated these changes exceedingly well, so I should have known what to expect. Not.

When I called in, as I expected, I heard some automated set up prompts as described in all the mass communications I had received over the last month. What I did not expect, was to hear those set up prompts in Spanish. I had received a text message a month ago in English, then a letter a few weeks ago in English. Moreover, my old Alltel mailbox was in English, and I had read the new mailbox instructions online at Verizon Wireless, in English. So, the Spanish prompts did catch me a little off guard. After regaining my composure and repeating the only Spanish that I know, “no hablo español,” finally an English-speaking computer voice came on and said those four little words we all love to hear, “press 1 for English.”

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