Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Fwd: Fw: Fw: Fw: Email Forwards are Webs of Inaccuracy

I hate forwards. Every time I see "Fwd:" before a subject line I cringe, and my face goes cold when I reach the words "Send this to ____ people and you will ______".... Ok, I mean SOME forwards are ok--I'm ok if I am forwarded something that is funny or if it's something that the person sending it had absolute knowledge I'd be interested in. But those, sadly, are in the minority of forwarded messages. Instead, most of them are like this...

Fwd: Fw: Aint this a *****?!

Guess I won't be drinking Starbucks anymore! ! !

Recently Marines in
Iraq wrote to Starbucks because they wanted to
let them know how much they liked their coffees and to request that they
send some of it to the troops there. Starbucks replied, telling the Marines
thank you for their support of their business, but that Starbucks does not
support the war, nor anyone in it, and that they would not send the troops
brand of coffee.

So as not to offend Starbucks, maybe we should not support them by
buying any of their products! I feel we should get this out in the open. I
know this war might not be very popular with some folks, but that doesn'tmean we don't support the boys on the ground fighting street -to-street and

If you feel the same as I do then pass this along, or you can
discard it and no one w ill never know.

Thanks very much for your support. I know you'll all be there again when I
deploy once more.

Semper Fidelis.
Sgt. Howard C. Wright
1st Force Recon Co
1st Plt PLT


Also, don't forget that when the
Twin Tr ade Towers were hit the fire
fighters and rescue workers went to Starbucks because it was close by for water for
the survivors and workers and Starbucks charged them! ! !


Ok... I understand, people want to support the troops, and if this is true, maybe someone SHOULD do something about it... but here is where I fail to understand humans--why do people reeeeally think they have some kind of inside scoop that is only being passed through a chain of emails despite its explicit importance? AND WHY DON'T PEOPLE EVER GOOGLE THESE THINGS?! If it's really true--and I know, conspiracies DO happen--there's gotta be someplace on the internet where people are talking about it, in this blog-rich society we call America...

So as I do with all "Fwd: Beware, Isn't this guy a jerk, Boycott this, Buy this, AIDS from toilets and gas pumps" messages... I Googled it...

And the website at the TOP of the list was?

Urban Legends Reference Pages: Starbucks Refuses Marines

And ironically, this one had SOME truth to it...but it was still inaccurate information being sent around.

G.I. Joe

Claim: Starbucks or Oscar Mayer refused free product to G.I.s serving in Iraq, saying it didn't support the war and anyone in it.

Status: False.

Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2004]

I have indeed confirmed the fact that Starbucks charged rescue workers $130.00 for 3 cases of bottled water on September 11, 2001, so the following info that was passed on to me would not be surprising to me at all!!

Dear everyone: Please pass this along to anyone you know, this needs to get out in the open. Recently Marines over in Iraq supporting this country in OIF wrote to Starbucks because they wanted to let them know how much they liked their coffee and try to score some free coffee grounds. Starbucks wrote back telling the Marines thanks for their support in their business, but that they don't support the War and anyone in it and that they won't send them the Coffee. So as not to offend them we should not support in buying any Starbucks products. As a War vet and writing to you patriots I feel we should get this out in the open. I know this War might not be very popular with some folks, but that doesn't mean we don't support the boys on the ground fighting street to street and house to house for what they and I believe is right. If you feel the same as I do then pass this along, or you can discard it and I'll never know. Thanks very much for your support to me, and I know you'll all be there again here soon when I deploy once more.

Semper Fidelis,

Sgt Howard C. Wright

1st Force Recon Co

1st Plt PLT RTO

Variations: An April 2007 e-mailed version changed Starbucks to Oscar Mayer and coffee to hot dogs. In response, Oscar Mayer posted this denial on its web site:

False Rumor: Oscar Mayer doesn´t support the troops.

The email hoax above is currently in circulation but completely false. We do support the troops, in fact, Kraft Foods/Oscar Mayer has donated products to the U.S. troops in Iraq. We work with the military to ensure favorite Kraft products are available where our troops are stationed. Due to security and logistic concerns, the military requests that all product go through previously established channels. This ensures our donations are safely delivered where needed.

Then what is that interenet statement and how did it get started?

We don't know how the internet statement originated as we work through approved channels to accomodate military requests as appropriate.

Origins: We first encountered the Starbucks story in late April 2004 when it turned up in our inbox. In these days of heightened patriotism and concern for the troops, any rumor about a corporate giant snubbing those who are putting their lives on the line

overseas is bound to make a number of folks hot under the collar, which is what this e-mail has done.

We've been in touch with the e-mail's writer and have asked him about the events that led to his penning the note about Starbucks' response to Marines who had come to them looking for a donation of coffee. Sgt. Wright (who is stationed Stateside at the moment but who will be deployed overseas in the next few months), heard the story from a friend, who had gotten it from someone else. He talked things over with the Marine who had supposedly contacted Starbucks, and that, coupled with that night's televised news about the goings on in Iraq, made his blood boil. He pounded out his thoughts into the form of an e-mail, which he mailed to ten of his friends.

It is that e-mail which continues to circulate to this day. Sgt. Wright has since learned that what he heard was in error, and he has subsequently tried to set things right by issuing the following retraction:

Dear Readers,

Almost 5 months ago I sent an email to you my faithful friends. I did a wrong thou that needs to be cleared up. I heard from word of mouth about how Starbucks said they didn't support the war and all. I was having enough of that kind of talk and didn't do my research properly like I should have. This is not true. Starbucks supports the men and women in uniform. They have personally contacted me and I have been sent many of their Company's policy on this issue. So I apologize for this quick wrong letter I sent out to you. Now I ask that you all pass this email around to everyone you passed the last one to. Thank you very much for understanding about this.

Howard C. Wright


Sgt. Wright has been unable to produce the reply his buddy supposedly received from Starbucks, and the folks at Starbucks deny engaging in any correspondence on such matter prior to this rumor coming along. Given that no copy of the letter appears to exist, neither one resting in the hands of the Sergeant's comrade, nor one residing in Starbucks' files, the rumor about the java vendor's harsh response to a coffee-hunting Marine should be dismissed.

As for what Starbucks has to say about the matter, while it doesn't directly refute the rumor on its web site, it does at least provide somewhat of an answer in e-mail. An excerpt from that statement reads:

Starbucks has the deepest respect and admiration for U.S. military personnel. We are extremely grateful to the men and women who serve stateside or overseas. We sincerely appreciate that they are willing to risk their lives to protect Americans and our values of freedom and democracy. While Starbucks as a company cannot directly donate to military personnel, many of our partners (employees) show their support by donating coffee.

Starbucks partners receive one pound of free coffee each week as an employee benefit (known as "partner mark-out"). Many of our partners have elected to send their weekly mark-out of coffee to members of the military or military families, and related organizations. Our partners have collected and shipped numerous pounds of Starbucks coffee overseas.

As an example of this generosity, our partners in our Atascadero, California store sent their weekly mark out coffee to troops in Afghanistan so they are able to enjoy a little piece of home. Our customer relations department in Seattle donated hundreds of pounds of coffee to the sailors in the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier group.

Under the terms of the Starbucks' corporate giving policy, had such a request been made, the coffee giant would have had to say no to it. Such a refusal would have been in keeping with the corporation's donations policy, in that Starbucks chooses to direct its charitable resources within the communities where its stores are located and limits its funding to non-profit organizations. Moreover, it does not consider requests for funding that come from political or religious organizations or which would fund political or religious initiatives or programs. According to the guidelines currently in place, a request for coffee from soldiers serving overseas would be turned


However, while it is true Starbucks as a corporate entity could not have donated coffee to java-seeking Marines, it would have passed along such a request to any number of its employees who are looking for military mailing addresses to send product to, as it has already done on many occasions. Starbucks partners receive one pound of free coffee each week as an employee benefit (known as "partner mark-out"). Many of them have elected to send their weekly mark-out to members of the military or military families, and related organizations.

The claim that Starbucks would ever have said "they don't support the War and anyone in it" is false, in light of what various news accounts show us about the coffee retailer's attitude towards those who serve in the armed forces. In addition to what Starbucks itself says above of its beneficences to soldiers, we know from different newspaper articles of other instances of glad-hearted support. In July 2004, a Starbucks in Cincinnati was reported to have been practically overflowing with people making yellow ribbons in support of Keith "Matt" Maupin, a soldier whose fate was then uncertain (it has subsequently been reported that he had been beheaded by his captors), along with red, white, and blue ones to show support for American troops in Iraq. In June 2004 in Cleveland, when the mother of one serviceman called her local Starbucks to arrange for the shipping of some java to her son, the employees at that store insisted on paying for 30 pounds of coffee as their gift.

Regarding another of the claims made in the e-mail, while it is true someone working at a New York City Starbucks did indeed charge ambulance workers $130 for three cases of water on September 11, 2001, it would not be quite fair to say Starbucks did this. However, act of a single, misguided employee or not, the corporation alone bears responsibility for afterwards spurning a number of opportunities to offer the rescue workers their money back or apologize to them — though it finally took both those actions, it did so only after the story attracted online and print media attention.

In addition to the "rescue workers charged for water" and the "spurned servicemen" story that is the focus of this piece, Starbucks has been the butt of a number of other unsavory rumors and mistaken beliefs just in the past few years, including:

  • A 2002 poster promoting two new iced drinks prompted some consumers to see in it reminders of the hijacked planes hitting the twin towers.
  • In 2001, a false story spread in e-mail about the wife of the owner of a Thailand Starbucks telling non-white customers the coffee shop was not for Asians.
  • The company's 2003 termination of its business interests in Israel caused some to believe Starbucks had abandoned that nation in favor of being able to continue to do business in Arab countries.
  • In 2002, a prankster who scanned and distributed online a coupon entitling the bearer to a free Crème Frappuccino caused any amount of bad feeling to be directed at the company — those duped into believing they were entitled to free product were often angry at the stores who refused to honor the fake coupons rather than with the unnamed person who had deceived them.

Starbucks, like any other successful corporation that has a strong public presence, is fated to operate with the Damocles sword of public opinion hanging above its head. No corporation can fund everyone who comes to it looking for assistance, which means some deserving groups will always be refused. In less emotionally-charged times, the logic of such a policy is better understood, but the current climate makes it a dicey PR proposition at best to say no to anything having to do with soldiers.

Barbara "enlisted support" Mikkelson

Last updated: 20 November 2007

Sorry for pasting all of that...but you get the point. PLEASE folks, you've got to check your forwards! If you don't want to check them, don't keep sending them! That's all I ask...it's not too much, I hope!!


So...if this has been helpful to you, please forward the url of this blog to 15 people--and your hair will not fall out, a dog will receive a new home and your bank account will be awarded $500 each time.


1 comment:

T3FLON said...

I request all people who forward any emails to first check their validity with snopes.com

It has worked in 2008, but some still don't check. Highly annoying.