Starbucks Responds

11 03 2007

If you haven’t heard already, Jonathan Wells has his very own “The Way I See It” cup at Starbucks, and upon writing the company an irate e-mail, I received two responses. Here’s the first, which is essentially a meaningless form letter which is the equivalent of saying “I’m sorry you got offended at the perfectly reasonable statements of Dr. Wells (which do not necessarily represent our company”;

Hello Brian,

Thanks for taking the time to comment on “The Way I See It.” This is a new program where we invite outside contributors to write something for the back of our to-go cups.

Because the goal of “The Way I See It” is to encourage discussion and exchange ideas, your contribution to this dialogue is not only welcome – it’s vital. Whether you agree or disagree with what’s been said, we hope you appreciate the overall spirit of the program, which again is to encourage discussion and the exchange of ideas.

Part of our mission statement is to “embrace diversity as an essential component in the way we do business.” We believe that this program is one of the ways that we can express this part of our mission statement. While Starbucks does not necessarily endorse the viewpoints of the individual authors who appear in “The Way I See It,” we think their contributions to the marketplace of ideas is a way to respectfully encourage intellectual diversity.

If you have any additional comments or questions please let us know.

Sincerely,

Amber M.

Starbucks Customer Relations

The second one was a bite more personal, although I have yet to hear back from the customer relations official about whether my complaint will appear on the website or not (oddly enough, the link he sent me only gave me an error page… hmmm….);

Hello, Brian —

Thanks for taking the time to comment on “The Way I See It.” Because the overall goal of our program is to encourage discussion and exchange ideas, your contribution to the dialogue we are trying to foster is notonly more than welcome — it’s vital.

With regards to your comment on The Way I See It #224 by Jonathan Wells, I’d like to do two things. First, since you were asking about a counterpoint to this particular cup, I wanted to call your attention to the quote by David Quammen that we are featuring at the same time Dr. Wells’ cup runs.

The Way I See It #220
Evolution as described by Charles Darwin is a scientific theory,
abundantly reconfirmed, explaining physical phenomena by physical
causes. Intelligent Design is a faith-based initiative in rhetorical
argument. Should we teach I.D. in America’s public schools? Yes, let’s
do it – not as science, but alongside other spiritual beliefs, such as
Islam, Zoroastrianism and the Hindu idea that the Earth rests on
Chukwa,
the giant turtle.
— David Quammen
Author. His books include The Song of the Dodo and The Reluctant Mr.
Darwin.

Secondly, I’d like to see if you would be interested in having your original response posted on our web site. As part of the “Way I See It”, we have a “letters to the editor” section where customers can respond to the things they’ve read in our program. (You can see previous letters at http://www.starbucks.com/retail/thewayiseeit_letters.asp.)

If you would like your response to be considered for posting, I need to
ask you a few things.

First, I need your permission to post. I’d also like permission to make
any necessary grammatical corrections to the piece, which I would send
to you before posting.

Second, I need some contact information (an address and phone number)
to verify your identity. Your contact information will not be posted, nor will it be used for Starbucks marketing purposes.

I must explain there is no compensation involved in this, beyond the honor of having your response posted. Also, your permission does not necessarily guarantee that your letter will be posted — it simply moves it into the queue for consideration. We will publish as many letters as we can on the web, but due to the volume of responses we can’t publish
everything we receive.

Please let me know if this will be agreeable to you. I hope to hear
your
response soon!

Thanks and all regards,
Thomas Prowell
Copy Manager
Starbucks Creative Group

So, other than letting my little rant go public, it doesn’t seem like Starbucks cares what’s on their cups, not believes they can be held accountable for it. I’m not a customer of theirs, but if nothing else these exchanges have, for myself at these, solidified the reality that Starbucks sucks.


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7 responses

12 03 2007
kurage

I’m here from PZ’s blog, and I just want to be the first to congratulate you on the “honor” of having your response considered for “publication” on the Starbucks website! (Which is to say, I’m bug-eyed and gagging at the sheer arrogance of these people.)

12 03 2007
laelaps

Haha, thanks kurage. From what other people have posted in the comment thread over at PZ’s blog, it looks like I got 2 form letters and I doubt if my complaint will make the cut (although by now they have plenty more to choose from). I’m still irate at Starbucks about this, especially their hands off “Don’t blame us; we just print this stuff” approach to it all. Like someone else posted, I don’t see them posting propaganda from KKK leaders and the like, so why give Wells credibility?

11 04 2007
Mike Gottschalk

Hi Laelaps,
I was similarly offended by the Wells quote on my tea yesterday morning, and got the same kind of message.

My message:

Despite the claim that the opinions expressed are not necessarily that of Starbucks, the quote you have selected for The Way I See It #224 by Dr. Jonathan Wells offers little in the spirit of your program to initiate lively discussion, but instead fosters the rote repetition of anti-intellectual paranoia under the guise of a fair and reasoned stance. Wells’ quote links eugenics (read Nazism) abortion and racism, at once mischaracterizing the stances of his opponents while belying the intention of his ‘intellectual’ career. His doctoral studies were partially funded by the Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon (‘The New Monkey Trial.’ by Michelle Goldberg, Salon. 10 Jan 2005), which vehemently denies the Darwinian model of evolution as antithetical to its own ideological (not scientific) stance. Indeed, a more enlightening quote than the one on my tea this morning is from Wells himself in his Darwinism: Why I Went for a Second Ph.D: Father’s [Sun Myung Moon’s] words, my studies, and my prayers convinced me that I should devote my life to destroying Darwinism, just as many of my fellow Unificationists had already devoted their lives to destroying Marxism. When Father chose
me (along with about a dozen other seminary graduates) to enter a Ph.D. program in 1978, I welcomed the opportunity to prepare myself for battle. Wells’ subsequent work with the Discovery Institute seeks to discredit the view that HIV has been proven to be the sole cause of AIDS, a position which could prevent those who are HIV positive from receiving that care which is already available. Wells’ quote in and of itself has little to provoke useful discussion in the spirit of your program, and his career has exhibited a series of inarticulate, unreasoned and paranoid stances which exist in ideological opposition to the welfare of a large number of your employees and patrons. I ask that you remove The Way I See It #244 from your future press runs for paper goods, and remove it from the collection which is available online, on the grounds that a quote from Dr. Jonathan Wells has about as much place on a Starbucks cup as a quote from a Holocaust revisionist.
Sincerely,
Michael Gottschalk

The first response:
[Same form letter as yours]

My follow-up:

Hello Benjamin J.-

Thank you for your timely response.

I appreciate your “The Way I See It” program and its stated goals, and personally value a free and open discourse in an intellectually diverse marketplace of ideas.

The body of work put forth by Dr. Jonathan Wells is neither free, nor open, nor diverse, nor intellectual. And as such it has no place on your packaging nor on your website. It is solely ideologically based and ignores published findings while claiming to have the authority of science. It is not science.

That being said, I stand by my request that you remove “The Way I See It #244” from your future press runs for paper goods, and remove it from the collection which is available online.

If you choose not to remove it, I hope that your future installments will include quotes from Holocaust revisionists, Nordic nationalists, and the Flat Earth Society, in keeping with the spirit of Dr. Wells’ brand of inquiry.

As my philosophy professor told me before an exam, “There are no right answers, but that is not to say that there is not an infinite number of wrong answers.”

Sincerely,
Michael Gottschalk

Then Prowell writes back:

Hello, Michael —

Thanks for taking the time to comment on “The Way I See It.” Because the goal of this program is to encourage discussion and exchange ideas, your contribution to the dialogue we are trying to foster is not only more than welcome — it’s vital.

I’m writing to see if you would be interested in having your response posted on our web site. As part of the “Way I See It”, we have a “letters to the editor” section where customers can respond to the things they’ve read in our program. (You can see previous letters at http://www.starbucks.com/retail/thewayiseeit_letters.asp.)

If you would like your response to be considered for posting, I need to ask you a few things.

First, I need your permission to post. I’d also like permission to make any necessary grammatical corrections to the piece, which I would send to you before posting.

Second, I need some contact information (an address and phone number) to verify your identity. Your contact information will not be posted, nor will it be used for Starbucks marketing purposes.

I must explain there is no compensation involved in this, beyond the honor of having your response posted. Also, your permission does not necessarily guarantee that your letter will be posted — it simply moves it into the queue for consideration. We will publish as many letters as we can on the web, but due to the volume of responses we can’t publish everything we receive.

Please let me know if this will be agreeable to you. I hope to hear your response soon!

Thanks and all regards,
Thomas Prowell
Copy Manager
Starbucks Creative Group

That’s from a few minutes ago. What a freak. Thanks for keeping up the pressure.

-Mike

12 04 2007
laelaps

Hi Mike, and thanks for submitting your response! It seems that everyone who sent in a complaint got a form letting saying “It’s not our fault, but we’ll think about posting your complaint.”😛 While the Quammen cup is good, Starbucks is enganing in the good ‘ol “Teach the Controversy” b.s. (as if I didn’t already have enough reasons to dislike the overpriced coffeehouse). Things have somewhat died down on this issue as Starbucks doesn’t seem to care what anyone else thinks, and somehow I get the feeling we’ll be seeing more pro-IDiocy cups in the future.

23 05 2011
Heizstrahler Terrasse

Good stuff here, but i noticed that several of your links are broken. thanks for the content anyway!

15 09 2011
Lily

HiHo!!! this webpage is absolute fine!! Im sure Im coming back to find posts..

26 07 2013
Declan

I was wondering if you ever considered changing
the structure of your blog? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.
Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or 2 pictures.
Maybe you could space it out better?

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