Thursday, September 07, 2006

Peet's: The Reckoning

Previously on Yes, I Pretty Much Know I'm Crazy And This Is But One Aspect Thereof:

I visited Peet's for the hell of it and discovered they're a bunch of wacked-out Mormons and I more or less vowed never to return.

I was forced to break said vow due to renovations on Starbucks.

And now we reach present day, or at least almost. Because Starbucks STILL isn't open, the sign now says "through September 9th" but there's no way in heaven (good TV), hell (bad TV) or purgatory (CBS) that they'll actually meet that deadline. If it were going to be finished by then, the progress report by September 7th would probably be something like "espresso machines installed, going through final quality checking" -- whereas I believe it's currently more along the lines of "you can sort of tell they're building a counter." So, in spite of my boastfulness about just how far I'd be willing to walk/drive/swim/astral project to reach my beloved Starbucks, the sad reality is that I've ended up going to Peet's fairly often over the past few weeks.

But that doesn't mean I've liked it. On the contrary. I've gradually learned that the magnitude of the effusive Mormonosity is bested only by the gargantuan suckitude of the service. It's even worse when you consider the ratio: at Starbucks, there's usually 1 cashier and maybe 2 people making drinks, or 2 cashiers and 1 person making drinks. And generally, the drinks get made and pushed out with an appealing level of quickness -- whereas at Peet's, they often have 3 cashiers and 2 or 3 people at the bar, but it takes them decades to take some espresso and add it to milk (or worse, take espresso and add it to an EMPTY FUCKING CUP).

Speaking of which, even the cup they've been serving the espresso in has been cause for bitterness (even more bitter than the espresso, which, by the way, kind of tastes like ass). See, apparently it's too wasteful to put 2 shots of espresso into a 4-ounce cup, so now they've taken to putting it in, basically, a Dixie cup. Good luck adding a splash of skim milk to that, unless you have years of clinical experience and a medicine dropper under your belt. But no, even that wasn't enough to turn me away forever (though it should have been) -- I came back again the next day, only to be given the same Dixie cup with about half as much liquid in it.

"Is this a double?" I ask, expecting the barista chick to apologize profusely and add more espresso to the cup (or better yet, put it into a REAL CUP).

"Yes," she says with a straight face.

What can I say to that? Do I put on the asshat and tell her no, this AIN'T no freaking double espresso and I'm not leaving until it is? Or do I down my half-teaspoon of fluid and walk out dejectedly?

Duh; I do the latter.

But back at my desk, with that mere smidgen of acidic coffeeish stuff still on my tongue (the "angrycaffeine," as my surrogate sis Ashley puts it), I feel just pissed off enough to head over to the Peet's website and fire off an official complaint. "Contact us," I click on. Website issues? Coffee/Tea questions? Nope, I'm selecting "Peet's Stores" as the target of my righteous venom. Here's what I write.

I have been going to Peet's in Westwood Village regularly for the past couple of weeks, mainly due to the Starbucks across the street being closed for renovations (might as well be honest). Compared with Starbucks, I have certainly found the cashiers/baristas to be more cheerful and amiable; however, the actual quality of the service itself leaves something to be desired. I only ever order a double espresso, one of the easiest things there is to make, and yet it seems to take an eternity even when there are not many others waiting for drinks. Also, lately the baristas have taken to putting it in a small dixie-sized cup, which makes it impossible for me to add even a tablespoon of milk to it. Finally, the "double" I received today appeared to be less than a single shot, though I was assured by the barista that it was, in fact, a double. Even though Peet's is not my preferred shop to patronize, I had hoped that the couple of weeks I spent going there during the Starbucks renovations would be enjoyable. It hasn't been; the result has only been that I hesitate to recommend Peet's even as an alternative.
But you know, it's like leaving a comment in the box at the grocery store, or filling out the feedback card at IHOP. Just something to vent frustration, right? I mean, shit, nobody reads those things. (Fun fact: In I temped for about a month at the corporate headquarters of Pizzeria Uno in Dedham, Massachusetts, where I assisted the lady who responded to all the complaint letters. And yes, I read some of them, because they were way entertaining. But mostly, they were just given a brief glance and a $5 voucher or two and tossed away.) Well, on the contrary. Because today, fewer than 24 hours later, I actually get an email from Peet's in my goddamn GMail inbox! And here 'tis:
Dear Nick,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write to us about the speed
of service and other issues you encountered at our Westwood Village
location. We do strive to provide outstanding service to every
customer, every day, regardless of whether they're daily regulars or
one-time visitors to our stores. I'm going to immediately pass your
comments about your experiences at the store along to the district
manager so that he can look into your concerns. He or someone from the
store will be following up with you personally about your feedback.

Thanks again. Please let me know if I can be of any more assistance.

Warm regards,

[Dude with a job worse than mine]
See that? Someone's going to contact me personally! How freaking scary is that? Good thing I didn't give them my phone number! Or address! The last thing I want is a pair of highly caffeinated Mormons on my doorstep wanting to "have a talk" with me about things like espresso bean grinding and polygamy and all that. Thus far, I have heard nothing, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time before this district manager finds me and... aw, hell, it won't be the district manager. They said "the district manager or someone from the store." You know what that means? It's probably going to be the same goddamn barista who gave me trouble before! She probably just wants to come down here and throw a drink in my face. Which might cause me to worry, but then I remember that she's incapable of adding more than like 0.1 ounces of liquid to a cup. So I think I'll be okay.