Are American business people moralistic about profits?

Var

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Jun 6, 2008
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There's a situation I've encountered at some cafes and also other types of businesses, which at first can seem like a joke, until I realize it's not and it's just ugly behavior.

You see, in America we have this problem with people who take a militant, pro-business moralistic view.

These moralists, despite being craven and not at all well, insist (as do people in the media) that businesspeople are many-skilled heroes. These moralists absolutely discount the worth of customers and workers and indeed threat them like second-class citizens.

They spend a lot of energy treating customers badly, acting like a customer who doesn't pay out all their money is to be abused. Indeed they treat customers like an underclass. They might pretend it's a virtuous pro-business mindset but underneath it's bigotry.

The irony is that their oppressed workers usually take the business's side against customers.

I think this basically sums up the worst case situations that I've seen at Starbucks.
 
Hey Var, you should read Sinclair Upton's "Oil- there will be blood" (the book written in the 1920's is far, far superior to the movie which Daniel Day Lewis won his Oscar for last year. Although its about the Californian Oil industry, it could relate to any business segment. I can't say I 100% agree with your views (thats the great thing about Coffeeforums, debate is the essence of the site!), but I do agree that sometimes the Media does glorify business leaders... look at Conrad Black, Enron Keith and Jack Welch to see what the flip side of this can be.
 

MakoShark

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Nov 23, 2007
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"The way life should be"
I remember years ago, as a teenager I visited NYC during a summer trip across the country from California. It was an amazing experience for an 17 year old. (Why my mother allowed me and a friend drive across the country one summer I'll never know)

One of my lasting impressions of New York was the way people in business interacted with their customers. I'm talking about store operators, cab drivers, ticket takers; most anybody that is in contact with the general public. I was amazed at the brusqueness of the clerks and proprietors. I realized eventually that they were not brusque but curt. They were not necessarily rude, just short in their manner.

Years later I have noticed a marked difference in this tone in New York. It does seem to be a much friendlier place now than what I remember in my teens. But it is a busy place. New York is unique in it's feel, but not unique in it's pace. People of New York are part of this feel, in fact are active participants.

I'm no Social Scientist, but I believe the business atmosphere or feel that many coffeehouse operators strive to create may seek to grasp what is natural and inherent in New York. A busy coffeehouse will exude the "rush". Who's next! What do you want? Next!

But I don't believe it universally has to do with their view about profits or morals of profitability, either the proprietors or the customers. I don't think they are being insulting to their customers, any more than customers are enjoying being abused. I don't think either exist universally. Customers frequent coffeehouses where they feel comfortable. Those who do not enjoy the atmosphere in such a place will naturally gravitate away from it, toward a more pleasant place.

And so, competition among coffeehouses takes care of itself, always finding what will work in a given marketplace and what will not. As a business person, it is for you to decide what works in your market and what will bring customers through your doors. It may be the unique experience of a NY cafe, with "rude" baristas and counter people. Hopefully the fast pace of your operation will build a fast pace of customers through the doors. If not, then perhaps a more friendly and relaxed approach will work better. Key point: bring them through the doors.

Mako
 

ElPugDiablo

New member
Jul 16, 2004
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Hartford and New Haven, CT
Var said:
There's a situation I've encountered at some cafes and also other types of businesses, which at first can seem like a joke, until I realize it's not and it's just ugly behavior.

You see, in America we have this problem with people who take a militant, pro-business moralistic view.

These moralists, despite being craven and not at all well, insist (as do people in the media) that businesspeople are many-skilled heroes. These moralists absolutely discount the worth of customers and workers and indeed threat them like second-class citizens.

They spend a lot of energy treating customers badly, acting like a customer who doesn't pay out all their money is to be abused. Indeed they treat customers like an underclass. They might pretend it's a virtuous pro-business mindset but underneath it's bigotry.

The irony is that their oppressed workers usually take the business's side against customers.

I think this basically sums up the worst case situations that I've seen at Starbucks.

Var said:
The problem with most cafes in my part of the US is that people who go there act like Ugly Americans, i.e. loud, obnoxious, unapologetic, inconsiderate.

You hate the customers that goes to Starbucks and Panera and you have morality issue with Starbucks. I think the best thing is to search out cafes and customes you like and leave other to their joy or according to you, their misery alone.
 

caffe biscotto

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Jan 18, 2008
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MASS.
Good point, seems like Var has issues to work out with both sides.

Maybe the customers (we, the "ugly Americans") are obnoxious because of the terrible service they receive. In turn, the service and barristas are pissy because of the obnoxious customers that come in.

It's a vicious circle and it is ugly......... But still, life goes on, whether we choose to take part in the circle or we can choose to be above or outside of that circle.
 
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Var

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ElPugDiablo said:
You hate the customers that goes to Starbucks and Panera and you have morality issue with Starbucks. I think the best thing is to search out cafes and customes you like and leave other to their joy or according to you, their misery alone.

I find that at Panera, there's a contingent of laptop users and students including myself who exist in a defensive stance against the yahoo customers. Unfortunately, in this region there aren't enough (or any) independent cafes to support a more refined customer. The few that exist are distant.

But I agree that if better cafes did exist locally, it would be better to give my money to those.

Indeed since Starbucks has been accused of unethical business practices, not giving money to them is the more ethical action.
 
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Var

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caffe biscotto said:
Maybe the customers (we, the "ugly Americans") are obnoxious because of the terrible service they receive. In turn, the service and barristas are pissy because of the obnoxious customers that come in.

I've certainly seen that dynamic, but at Starbucks also I've seen workers take the offensive and really try to be irritating, before any customers could have instigated anything e.g. in the morning.

As for customers, I think the yahoos are yahoos because we live in an unthinking society, where the emphasis is on making money and cheap thrills (work hard, play hard) and any intellectual ability that a person has is focused on money acquisition rather than on becoming a refined or wise person.

In part because of that, in some parts of the country independent cafes that cater to a more refined clientele are thriving. I have heard people say things like "I come here because it's more sophisticated" or "cafes like this offer real culture".

For instance in San Diego, I observed that while the yahoos go to Starbucks to have a sort of Chuck-E-Cheese experience, people who want good music, nice paintings on the walls, hand-made tables, couches, even live music instead go to indy cafes. I recall happening upon about five of them.

Where I am now, I have to drive 30-45 minutes for a so-so cafe.
 

MilesT

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Jun 25, 2008
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Coeur d Alene, Idaho
The solution

.... would be for you to move closer to your \"so-so\" cafes and stop visiting the Starbucks and Paneras of the world (seems like you spend alot of time their having your own Chuck E Cheese experience) and create a good experience for yourself. Personally I dont do starbucks but I love all the places that I go to and all the workers are happy and the owners are getting richer ... as it should be.

Cheers
Miles
 

caffe biscotto

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Jan 18, 2008
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Var said:
....As for customers, I think the yahoos are yahoos because we live in an unthinking society, where the emphasis is on making money and cheap thrills (work hard, play hard) and any intellectual ability that a person has is focused on money acquisition rather than on becoming a refined or wise person....

Var, I can appreciate that you're willing to share your experiences, whether good or bad, with the forum. As MilesT just mentioned, some of us just don't go to Starbucks and don't know what goes on there. Well, I've been there twice in my life. Once was drive-thru. The other time, I didn't know what I was doing there in the first place, so just ordered a mocha, browsed their museum of coffee mugs and cds, then hit the road, unfettered and unoffended. I enjoyed the mocha.

However, you've come accross as being bitter towards everyone and seem to be generalizing a whole race of people as being less than civilized or at least non-thinking and non-caring. I'm sure that was not your intention. You must know that in every profession, you will find varying levels of moral ethics, as well as work ethics. Funny thing is, those fast food employees actually work harder than say white collar employees and for bare bones minimum wage. Some of them don't see it as a stepping stone to better things and just think this is it man. This is my life. I say let them be pissy. I'm good with my life and simply wouldn't return there. There's better coffee at home anyway, right? :wink:
 

Kaitlyn C

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Jul 29, 2008
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LBI, NJ
Var said:
As for customers, I think the yahoos are yahoos because we live in an unthinking society, where the emphasis is on making money and cheap thrills (work hard, play hard) and any intellectual ability that a person has is focused on money acquisition rather than on becoming a refined or wise person.

As a business major, I can see where you are coming from because in almost all of my business classes we always skip the "ethics" chapter and so maybe if the business owner's training leaves out this important topic, they in turn, appear to be unethical.

The main thing that you have to remember is, "the customer (or guest) is always right." (even when they are VERY VERY wrong). I have been working in the restaurant industry for a while now and there have been times where I just want to strangle a waiter/waitress (when I was cooking) or a customer (when I was serving/ a barista). I always resort back to putting myself in their shoes, however, and think things through before my hands seem to gravitate towards their neck.

So are we all out for the big bucks? Well some, of course. But the rest of us try to make a living on being our own boss, having control over our lives (and business), and enjoying a good cup of coffee. :)
 

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