The Starbucks Entitlement, or Give Me Free Shit…

The internet (or at least Twitter) lit up briefly this morning when Starbucks announced that they are going to change the way customers earn loyalty program points. Customers were outraged that the company was changing how various “elite” status levels are reached and how much money they would have to spend before they qualified to “get something free.”

Since I moved to the sticks and don’t drive past half a dozen Starbucks locations on my daily commute maybe I feel this change a little less acutely than the average overpriced coffee drinker. Or maybe it’s just a beautifully wrapped case-in-point of everything that is wrong with America today… because customers, presumably regular customers who enjoy Starbucks products and services, are now up in arms because the company is making it just a little bit harder to get free shit.

Let that idea sit with you for a while. Starbucks, a business that exists for the purpose of making money through the sale of coffee and related ephemera, actually wants its customers to spend a little more money before getting something for nothing. I’ll even take it a step further and directly question when we as a society decided that it was our God given right to expect people and business to give their products away. Somehow we’ve managed to take a gesture of goodwill and thanks – a free cup of coffee – and twist it into some kind of entitlement.

I learned from a young age that sometimes life is tough. The world doesn’t owe you a damned thing besides the chance to work hard, scrape, and make something for and of yourself. Past that, you’re not entitled to a thin dime – or a $5 cup of coffee – from anyone else. So when you do get something for nothing, be appreciative instead of immediately taking to the internet to cry that it’s just not enough.

If you think you’re getting a raw deal from Starbucks take your business elsewhere. There are hundreds of businesses that would be happy enough to take your money. Better yet, go get yourself a nice Italian coffee machine so you can cut out the middle man and *gasp* learn to brew your very own java. You’ll save a lot more money doing that than you’ll earn back through any customer loyalty program.

As always, not a sermon, just a though.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Other duties as assigned. I can do my job – the heavy analytical lifting – or I can do the other duties as assigned – issuing keys, setting up new employees with laptops, filing, hole punching, and flipping slides. However, I lack the gift of being in two places at once so you’re going to have to pick between those so I know what you actually want me to spend time tending. I’m good either way, but choose one and you’ll get a seriously good analyst, close the other and you have a spectacularly overpriced secretary. The choice is utterly yours.

2. Being other than on time. Although I’ve been doing it nearly every working day since January 2003, people always seem surprised when I shutdown and head for the doors on time. You may work for love. You may work for pride. You may even work to give your short time on this rock a sense of purpose. I’m a simpler animal. I work for money because I know my time isn’t free or limitless. Think of it what you will, but you can always be assured that when I’m “on,” you’ll get the best product I can manage, but I will be equally dedicated to preserving my personal time at almost any cost.

3. Free stuff. My news feeds and the media channels have been filled with talk of everyone who wants “free” stuff these last few days. They want a $15/hour paycheck guarantee for entry-level unskilled labor – essentially a request for “free” money since their economic activity doesn’t command such price in the marketplace already. They want “free” higher education. They want “free” healthcare. They want “free” housing and “free” food and maybe even a “free” phone. I may be a poor simple hillbilly from Western Maryland, but it strikes me that what the most recent round of protestors really mean is they want the stuff and they want other people to pay the bill. Precious little in life comes for “free.” Someone, somewhere, has to pick up the check. It’s not presently the popular thing to say, but in my mind being a grown ass adult mostly means being able to make your own way in the world, paying your bills, and being a responsible and productive member of society… or maybe I missed a memo somewhere. In that case, where’s my free shit?

Christmas Freebie…

RetributionThis will be old news for anyone following along my “official” Facebook page (because they get breaking news a day early), but in the interest of getting the word out to as broad an audience as I can muster I’m going to post my Christmas Freebie here too… mostly because it’s my blog and I can do what I want.

From now until the end of the year, you, your friends, family, father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate, whoever, can get your very one copy of Retribution: Chasing Hearts and Minds at absolutely no cost. Well, no cost except for the opportunity cost of the time you spend going over to Smashwords, signing in, adding the book to your cart, applying the coupon code, and then checking out. Yes, aside from that, your copy is absolutely 100% free.

Many people aren’t as familiar with Smashwords as they are Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Apple, but I can tell you it’s a great place to find some writers who won’t get a lot of play from the big e-publishers. Think of them as the small, local coffee shop of e-book retailers. They’re doing good work and I think you should support them when you can.

In any case, to get your free e-book from yours truly, just click over to my Smashwords page, add Retribution to your cart, enter Coupon Code: KY37R when you check out, and you’ll be all set to download your copy in the reader format of your choice… and if you want to leave a review or even just a comment, feel free to go ahead and do that too.

If you’re feeling especially generous, give this post a “like” or even share it on social media… Think of it as a gift for all your friends who might enjoy a little fire and brimstone with the Christmas celebration.

Because it’s better…

free-signI’ve heard all my life that it’s better to give than to receive. I’m not sure I’m convinced that’s necessarily true, but I’m going to do it anyway.

Starting right now and running through the end of the year, What Annoys Jeff this Week: 2012 in Review is available as a free download from Smashwords.

All you’ve got to do is click the link, used coupon code DB67P at checkout, and download your very own copy in whatever format you like.

Smashwords is compatible with Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and most other ereaders, so go ahead and give them a try. You know you want to catch up on 2012 before 2013 hits the shelves.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Comcast. We’re now on the 3rd monthly bill that’s jacked up as a result of my changing cable plans. This month’s bill got it mostly right, but still shows a $16 charge for a DVR and service that I no longer have. That’s not going to blow the monthly budget, of course, but it’s one of those small things that it really shouldn’t take three months to sort out. Now that I’m not really doing any living in the basement, I think I’ll just have that cable drop turned off and send the box back… At this point, any time I can put fewer dollars in Comcast’s garter, the happier I am. Optimistically, I think we should have everything resolved by sometime in June.

2. Terms of Service. If Instagram changes their terms of service and you don’t like it, go ahead and delete your account. To the best of my knowledge, no one is required to use Instagram. Since their providing a free service to the people of the interwebs, I think it’s only fair that we expect that at some point they’re going to have to figure out a way to make money from their service. If my fancy business classes are to be believed, the whole point in starting a company is to actually make money. Otherwise, they’d be a charity (or an arm of government) and would be interested in providing all of us something for nothing until the end of time. If you think applying filters to your grainy camera pics is so important, go ahead and by a copy of Photoshop and do it up right.

3. The Friday before a Ten Day Weekend. If anyone is expecting great and wonderful things tomorrow, let me disabuse you of that notion before we even get there. Although my body may be physically be shackled to my desk for one last eight hour stint, rest assured my mind has already flown the coop for 2012 and isn’t accepting any additional old business at this time.

Free to a good home…

Today marks the official one month mark since I moved in. That’s enough time to finally have things (mostly) settled and to figure out how livable the house is. All things considered, the place itself isn’t bad, really. There are a few layout issues and plenty of things that I would have done differently if it were my house – like the magenta bathtub and toilet. I mean seriously, how on earth did anyone ever thing that was a good idea? Other than that, the place seems to have good bones and is suffering only from the obvious neglect of the previous tenants and the general laziness of the property manager… Which of course brings us to the crux of the matter: A full month after moving in, there is still a Ford Expedition sitting in the driveway.

If someone drove up with a rollback and “disappeared” this Expedition, I certainly wouldn’t be filing a police report. I’d probably be willing to give them a hand loading it on the truck. It’s got a little body damage and I don’t have keys or anything, but I’d guess that you could make a good profit parting it out. I don’t have the time or energy to do it myself… and the point, of course, is to get it out of my driveway and into someone else’s. Maybe I’ll put a “Free to good home” sign on it before I leave for work in the morning.

Since I think 30 days is more than sufficient for the property manager to take care of this issue (and since the car seems to meet the legal definition of abandoned), I’ll be calling the Motor Vehicle Administration and the local police tomorrow to start the process of formally declaring it abandoned. That takes about 30 days from start to finish, but after that I can file for title and then sell the damned thing myself. I hoped I wouldn’t have to be a douchebag about this, but from here on out that seems to be the way we’re going to have to handle things. That’s probably what I should have done from the beginning. Serves me right for trying to be a nice guy.