Apparently it’s okay to charge $4 for a mediocre cup of coffee, but the very free market system that allows it cannot be discussed or praised. David Boaz of the Cato Institute, writing in the Wall Street Journal, notes that Starbucks will let you personalize a gift card (for $5) with any phrase… But should a phrase have a hint of right-leaning politics, they grind it up.
Boaz was able to get cards ordered with the United Farm Worker’s slogan “Yes We Can,” and the ubiquitous lefty “people not profits” mantra shouted by college students spending their daddy’s money. But if you want a card to read “laissez-faire,” Starbucks won’t allow it.
One friend suggests plying them with requests for cards with the phrase. Another has washed her of them. Me? I stopped by the location across the street and told them I wouldn’t again purchase my beloved “venti” Carmel Macchiato until the company relented.
Worse for Starbucks, I might find that I like another chain’s coffee better, or that I actually prefer keeping $4 in my pocket and drinking my coffee from the pot in the kitchen. Considering the financial problems Starbucks has been racing to address, alienating a segment of their consumer base doesn’t seem like a wise business move.