The Love Affair is Over

After nearly two years of consciously choosing to spend both time and money with them, I am bidding farewell to The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Never mind that I once professed undying love for their Extreme Ice Blended Vanilla No Sugar Added drink, or that they’ve recently introduced a Splenda-sweetened poppyseed loaf slice to their menu (something irresistible to someone like me who avoids sugar). Conspicuous consumption issues aside, the reason I stuck with the Coffee Bean for such a long time is because their service was top-notch, and they really made you feel comfortable in their cafes. The loyalty program they set up with the use of pink cards (which enabled you to claim a free drink after buying 12 drinks) and later on Swirl Cards (which stores prepaid credit and rebates per P100 worth of purchases) kept me coming back.

Coinciding with their recent expansion (they’ve opened branches all over the metro, including Trinoma, SM North EDSA The Block, and Bonifacio High Street) came a deterioration in their value for money. No Sugar Added powders never came at extra cost before; now, asking for NSA powder instead of regular powder adds an additional P10 to the total cost of a drink — which is already pricey enough, with very few drinks priced below P100.

I might have tolerated the price increase if it weren’t for the drop in the quality of service as well. My sister found it increasingly difficult to make use of the prepaid credit she had paid for on her Swirl Card, but the last straw for her was the staff at CBTL Eastwood switching her card (loaded with P500, plus stored points from her previous purchases) with someone else’s card (loaded with nothing). She only found this out when she wanted to use her credit at CBTL Ortigas Park. And the crew even treated her like she was lying to them that it was not her card. She asked them to fix this problem three whole months ago, and it still hasn’t been resolved.

As for me, the turning point was at CBTL Promenade. I had already computed that my drink would have 10 pesos on top of the listed price on the board because I had asked for NSA powder in my Regular Extreme Ice Blended Mocha. So I just handed my 500 pesos to them and waited for my change. As they punched my order in, I realized that they were charging me an additional 10 pesos on top of my computed price. I said, “I ordered a REGULAR,” remembering that the barista had even repeated my order back at me. “It’s not a LARGE?” the barista asked, confused, closing the register and printing my receipt.

The manager had to come and fix what had been punched in, then asked me, “You don’t want to make it a LARGE?” I stood my ground. But it wasn’t over yet. When they finally handed me the correct receipt, I still hadn’t received the proper change for my P500 and it took another few minutes to get my money.

With issues like this, I can’t help feeling like I’m being robbed at point-blank range every time I step into a Coffee Bean these days. Gimme a Starbucks any time. Sure they might be the McDonald’s of overpriced coffee shops, but even McDonald’s has superb quality control.

UPDATE 11/09/2007: I received a nice comment on my Livejournal post concerning this issue from Paulo Perez of CBTL Promenade. Here it is:

Hi Noelle! Good day to you. Just want to apologize in CBTL Promenade’s behalf about the incident. Rest assured steps have been taken to avoid this incident from happening again. Thank you for your feedback. We really appreciate it. Hope you can visit us again at the Promenade. Please feel free to send me your contact number at [email address redacted] so we can contact you and personally assist you in your next visit here.

All the best,

Paulo

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14 thoughts on “The Love Affair is Over

  • October 25, 2007 at 7:49 pm
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    Might I add that every time I follow up on my concern, the crew just has no idea what I’m talking about, indicating that they’re not on the case. It also takes a lifetime before they serve your order (does it really take 30 minutes to serve a regular latte?). On top of that, whilst I’d pay for larger sized drinks, there would be times they’d give me the size smaller. Is that not blatant disregard for my rights as a customer?

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  • October 27, 2007 at 9:08 pm
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    & for that I miss my old baristas downstairs where I work. but the new ones are nice pa rin, save for this girl JACKIE who is so slow with them orders & isn’t so friendly to begin with. hooray Makati.

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  • October 30, 2007 at 6:43 pm
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    So far, CBTL at the Block and at Trinoma have been good to me. But, yeah, I did notice that sometimes it takes a long time for them to serve the orders. As if the place is brimming with customers. But still I love the place. Not so many people as compared to Starbucks, though my love for Starbucks will never wane 🙂 There are just times that call for CBTL and other times that call for Starbucks.

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  • November 3, 2007 at 5:03 pm
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    you know … i genuinely feel bad for you. I actually live in Eastwood so I’m at the Bean 2 to 3 times a week; I’ve been going there so religiously over the past 2 years that I still remember the names of the baristas that have already left or have been assigned to other branches.

    A couple of them were really good too; I would show up at the counter and they would say “Hi Luis, regular Americano today?”. I’ve never gotten that kind of service anywhere else, and believe me when I say I’ve tried them all.

    I guess this is the part where you have to say YMMV, coz I haven’t noticed a decline in the quality of their service (which is still better than the competition, IMHO) or their drinks (best Americano in the less-than-PhP200 price range, AFAICT).

    :luis
    http://guttervomit.com

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  • November 8, 2007 at 11:09 am
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    this is really something stupid! just because of the extra 10 pesos u think you are already robbed?! think about it?! you want me to give you 10 pesos a day for your sugar?! fool! i thought all customers buying from CBTL can afford their drinks. so for 10 pesos?! you are just pretending girl! you are completely pathetic! so, your a deal or no deal girl? why dont u asked kris to give you 10 pesos and maybe she’ll even spank the 10 peso coin to your face! heads up! lolz! so go! the love affair is really over. i think coffee bean will even not notice you leaving. haha. bye girl. go now to starbucks and find your childhood customer service dream there. good night! great pretender. my last words to you noelle de guzman?? you want to leave CBTL?? DEAL!!!!

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  • November 8, 2007 at 11:12 am
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    hahaha looks like its 2 vs. 4. 2 CBTL haters (losers!) and 4 CBTL loyals (can afford pipol).. love your Tobleron Cake guys!

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  • November 9, 2007 at 10:47 am
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    You know, I don’t understand where all your animosity is coming from. I’m just a disappointed, dissatisfied customer saying my piece on MY blog. At least I leave my name when I state my opinion, unlike some anonymous critics.

    I don’t hate CBTL. I just don’t approve of the way their service has gone to hell. And my issue wasn’t with the price increase, in case you missed that. RTFA.

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  • November 9, 2007 at 10:48 am
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    And in case you missed it, I said I was a faux Deal or No Deal girl. That means “fake” or “pretend.” Geez.

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  • November 9, 2007 at 10:53 am
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    Um, Noelle, when did “Anonymous” equal “retarded”?

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  • November 9, 2007 at 12:05 pm
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    It’s good to see that there are some educated opinions on this matter. We may disagree but at least we respect each other’s stand. Thanks, Xiaoyubeh, Prudence and Luis. These comments are said in the hopes that CBTL takes note and improves their service.

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  • November 9, 2007 at 4:46 pm
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    Whoa, looks like you have a hater Noelle! I wonder why she visits your blog at all and reads your entries? (I have a strong feeling this is a SHE!) I hope she tries to COMPREHEND it too.

    Anyway, I am a Coffee Bean lover too but I also had a number of unpleasant experiences there. I agree that it takes them some time to servce the orders (especially in Eastwood). I’ve had a lot of disappointments in relation to the Swirl Card–their system seem to be always down whenever I try to use my card to pay. It’s really pissed me off a lot of times hehe. Other than that, I absolutely love CBTL’s coffee.

    I looove Starbucks too–I can’t say anything bad about their customer service. I won’t find a Java chip frap anywhere else.

    Well I agree with Prudence, there are times that calls for CBTL, and times for Starbucks!

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  • November 11, 2007 at 12:08 pm
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    They usually give me the WRONG frappe. Or if I ask for no whipped cream, they still put whipped cream on it anyway. *sigh*

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  • November 17, 2007 at 1:05 pm
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    You do have a point, Noelle. I hope Coffee Bean improves their service so that I can feel better about buying my coffee there.

    Some people have no business posting here when all they intend to do is to attack a person for voicing out personal opinions. This person doesn’t even know proper usage of the English language. Look who’s “pretending” now? I pity this creature.

    I don’t have a blogger account but I will leave my name because that is the educated, respectable thing to do.

    – Ric

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  • November 25, 2007 at 3:34 pm
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    Hello, Noelle, this is Marielle’s friend Dea. I’m sorry to hear about you bad experiences at CBTL. I’m one of the cafe’s loyal patrons and biggest fans (I have yet to have a better iced/hot chocolate). So far, I haven’t had an unfortunate incident. (By the way, I frequent only 2 branches–Alabang Town Center and Gateway.) Anyway, I might be putting a small sticker on my Swirl Card lest a mix-up like Marielle happens. I wouldn’t want to have to give them up.

    Dea
    bluesette.multiply.com

    Reply

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