According to former employee and whistle-blower Aikaterini Papidophilious, Starbucks is handing over customers names to the NSA. Starbucks declined to comment, but insiders confirmed Starbucks unhealthy appetite for BigData (or “VentiData” as they call it internally).
Staff at the company are required to ask every customer their first name before serving them. This might seem innocent, but privacy advocates warn that there is something bigger brewing. Nobody really knows what happens to data which gets collected.
Aikaterini also said that: “Starbucks had been hoarding this massive amount of data for years without a clear policy on where it goes or how long it’s being retained. Empty cups with customer names still clearly visible, are being whisked away late at night by an external contractor. They then analyze what exactly has been consumed by whom and cross-reference the info with the list of existing names in their system. What they do is completely over the line and people should know about it!”
“God knows what else they do with all this info. We don’t know exactly how much data they process but it must be big. Not just “big”, but like Venti !”, Aikaterini added.
It all started off very innocently. “We just wanted to work out whether there was a relation between customer names and type of coffee blend they liked. And we already had the data. We only tried to improve our service. Indeed it was Jerry Baldwin’s (the company founder) vision to leverage BigData in a way so that employees would one day only ask the customer their name. The system would then automatically predict and serve what the customer would like best on a given day, all with the use of VentiData, …
Staff were also looking forward to reduce customer interactions. Most Baristas complained that coffee lovers would only make fun of them anyway.
There were also other creative ideas to profit from VentiData, such as a ‘Starbucks baby naming book’ which would list popular names according to geographic regions, which could then be sold as merchandise in stores, ….
Brian, a store-owner in London, who asked us to keep his real name confidential said: “The firm recently came up with all sorts of silly policies that made my work life miserable. I gave up my career as web-designer because I was sick of coding and started this branch. But ironically Starbucks just became another data-entry job.”
Brian added: “Once the NSA got involved, the shit really hit the fan. Starbucks introduced spelling tests in job-interviews to reduce incorrect customer names being reported to HQ. They even made us fire all of our existing employees who couldn’t properly spell. Even dyslexic folk were kicked out (Dylsexic’s represented nearly 40% of the companies workforce up to 2012). They really didn’t think it through! I mean, where do you find people in the UK who can both spell and are also willing to serve coffee these days?? It’s a major clusterfuck!”
Bella, who is a loyal customer is less worried. Bella has officially changed her first name to “Berra” (just to keep visits to Starbucks without fuss and to get her order quicker). She said: “In hindsight I am convinced that these employees probably even misspelled my name on purpose! They wanted to protect my personal information and prevent it falling into the hands of the NSA/GHCQ or worse! I’m very grateful to them! If you think about it Starbucks is really kind of a modern “Schindler’s List” ….!”
EDIT: Starbucks CTO Chris Bruzzo has meanwhile confirmed that: “There was ‘some data leakage’ but certainly not ‘Venti’ but more like a ‘Tall’ amount. The company is now working on a solution to eliminate data leakage and will aim to provide more transparency by utilizing Open Standards such as FOaaS.”