Starbucks responds to alleged insensitivity

SEATTLE: Starbucks has been on a major charm offensive since the

publication of an article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on September


Columnist Robert Jamieson Jr. reported on an incident that occurred

September 11, when Midwood Ambulance workers were charged $130

for cases of water they needed to treat victims near Ground Zero.

He wrote that while the store refused to donate the water, Starbucks

issued a press release to "pat itself publicly on the back" for closing

its 3,000 stores nationwide on September 11.

Starbucks responded to the article with a letter to the editor from CEO

Orin Smith and a press release. "The rest of the story," Smith wrote,

"so negligently ignored that hundreds and hundreds of our people acted

selflessly to support the general public and protect one another

following the attacks."

Starbucks retains Edelman on a project basis, and works with Stanton

Crenshaw in New York. The latter firm has been assisting Starbucks

during the crisis, though neither agency would comment for this


Starbucks also issued a release last week with a statement from the Red

Cross' John Clizbe, VP of disaster services, which praised the efforts

of Starbucks.

Following a meeting with Smith, Jamieson penned another column to

correct the impression that Starbucks had done nothing to help.

Starbucks also distributed a letter from Smith in all of its stores last

week, describing how staff in New York went to three locations in order

to give out food and beverages to relief workers at Ground Zero.

And finally, in a bid to right the initial wrong, Smith refunded the

$130 paid by the ambulance team.

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