I’ve been known to launch complaints on Twitter against companies I feel have wronged me.
There was the time I criticized American Airlines for stranding me in Dallas. (I got a customer service response, but nothing was really fixed. I took a Megabus home.)
I once goaded clothing delivery company Stitch Fix into figuring out why my much-anticipated package might be a day late. (It wasn’t - false alarm!)
And sometimes I don’t even mean to lodge a complaint and I get lightning-quick customer service responses. A week ago, I noted that AT&T’s service seemed to be down in Austin.
I got not one but two Twitter messages from AT&T within 24 hours urging me to explain my gripe.
The social media platform has become a whiner’s paradise. By calling out a company’s Twitter handle when complaining about them, you can often get noticed and get a reaction.
But it wasn’t until this week that I really experienced the awesome power of Twitter as a customer-service tool.
It all started a month ago, when I noticed that Starbucks was selling these delightful new treats called “Bantam Bagels.” Some locations like to call them “bagel balls” though one barista sternly corrected me and said they were “bagel bites.”
They are golf-ball sized bagels packed with cream cheese and come in three flavors: plain, everything and French toast. And they’re 100 calories, the company says. Basically, they are heaven in your mouth.
Like most of my food crushes, I fell hard for them very fast.
It’s safe to say I was ordering them three to four times a week.
Even on a recent road trip from Austin to Tallahassee, I stopped at no less than five Starbucks stores to satisfy my bagel bites craving. I thought it strange that they weren’t being heavily promoted. Most of the shops didn’t even put them in their display cases.
You had to know to ask for them. Which made it a delicious little secret.
I strolled into my local Starbucks and tried to order bagel bites. The barista told me they were discontinued citywide. Maybe even throughout the entire country. “No one was eating them,” he said. “Except the baristas.”
“But I eat them!” I assured him. Distressed, I left the store with my backup: a chocolate croissant.
I was pondering what to say on Twitter before I even left the store:
Y'all are about to learn what passes as a problem in my exceedingly #firstworld life.— Lilly Rockwell (@LillyRockwell) December 29, 2016
There are some of us who like a break from our breakfast tacos every once in awhile. And those bagel bites really did the trick. @Starbucks— Lilly Rockwell (@LillyRockwell) December 29, 2016
Please consider bringing bagel bites back! I promise with a little marketing boost you would find an audience in Austin. @Starbucks— Lilly Rockwell (@LillyRockwell) December 29, 2016
Or I will just buy go around town buying and eating them all. @Starbucks— Lilly Rockwell (@LillyRockwell) December 29, 2016
A few hours later, I got a direct message on Twitter from Bill, communicating through the account “Starbucks Help.” They wanted my email address so they could pass along my issue to the manager of the Austin stores. So I shared my email.
Then Bill got busy trying to buy my affection, and apparently I’m a cheap date because an hour later I was delighted to have $5 put directly on to my Starbucks account through their app.
Just for complaining.
Then I got an email from Laura, who manages the Austin stores.:
Plot twist. They weren’t discontinued after all.
I emailed her right back right away and told her what the barista had told me. Then I called and left a voicemail message asking her to call back.
Five minutes later, she did. Laura, bless her heart, is less lazy than I am and got on the phone to solve the Great Bagel Bites Mystery of 2016.
She had taken the time to call the location nearest my house and ask them why they stopped carrying them. Laura also called another location a bit further from my house, and told me they were carrying them. Right now in fact. There were bagel bites in my immediate vicinity.
“Do you want me to ask your local store to order some?”
Is the sky blue? Of course I did. Laura promised me she would send an email to that store manager. She warned me it might take two days for them to come in. I thanked her and hung up.
This morning, I drove on over to the William Cannon and MoPac store and checked their display case.
No bagel bites.
I asked the barista if they carried them. She looked puzzled. “Oh! You mean Bantam Bagels?”(I will never get the name right.)
They had them. In every flavor. I got the “Everything.” And it tasted like sweet, sweet Twitter victory.