IF BANK OF AMERICA WERE IN THE COFFEE BUSINESS, BRIAN MOYNIHAN’S LIFE WOULD BE A LOT EASIER
Starbucks was secretly charging a $1.50 service fee-roughly 12% of the amount of the purchase-to customers who bought less than a standard one-pound bag of coffee. No store signage disclosed the charge, nor were customers told about it by cashiers ahead of time. It just showed up as a mystery line item on their receipt. By comparison, BofA’s doomed $5-per-month debit card fee was, if nothing else, a model of clarity and transparency. A best practice, even! And I’ll wager BofA customers were going to get a lot more utility for their $5 per month than Starbucks customers ever got for having to pay for bag-splitting. But the pillorying of Howard Schultz over the secret Starbucks’ fee was nothing like what Brian Moynihan had to endure. Now that I think of it, Schultz wasn’t pilloried at all. He’s even apparently still on the Secret List of Revered CEOs. Schultz is “fighting political dysfunction in Washington” and is Fortune magazine’s “Businessperson of the Year.” . . . Something to keep in mind next time the financial media turns up the sanctimony meter . . . . P.S. I remember a time when businesspersons kind of liked political dysfunction in Washington. . . .