(p. A12) Laissez-faire. It’s a policy that made Starbucks vastly successful. But don’t try to put that phrase on a customized Starbucks Card.
The cards are supposed be personalized to reflect customers’ tastes and uniqueness. They are available in a range of colors, often given as gifts and used by regular customers who prefer to prepay for their java.
But when my friend Roger Ream, president of the Fund for American Studies, received a Starbucks gift card for Christmas, he found there was a limit to how personalized a card could be. His card required him to customize it on the company’s Web site. So he went to the site and requested that the phrase “Laissez Faire” be printed on his card. A few days later he was informed that the company couldn’t issue such a card because the wording violated company policy.
. . .
Maybe Starbucks considers the phrase inappropriate because it’s “overtly political commentary”? Certainly my friend regards it as a firm statement of political philosophy.
And so, at my suggestion, my friend went back to the Web site and asked that his card be issued with the phrase “People Not Profits.” Bingo! Starbucks had no problem with that phrase, and the card arrived in a few days.
I wondered just what the company’s standards were. If “laissez-faire” is unacceptably political, how could the socialist slogan “people not profits” be acceptable?
. . .
Starbucks has prospered mightily in a free economy. For the most recent fiscal year, the company earned $672.6 million on revenue of $9.4 billion, a very healthy profit. And these days, in the wake of a California Superior Court judge’s order that the company repay $100 million in back tips that were shared by shift supervisors, Starbucks honchos just might like a little less government intervention in their affairs and a little more laissez-faire.
For the full commentary, see:
DAVID BOAZ. “Starbucks and ‘Laissez Faire’.” The Wall Street Journal
(Mon., April 7, 2008): A12.
(Note: ellipses added.)