CHINA TOPIX

Updated 2:12 PM EST, Wed, Jan 29, 2020

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Starbucks Accuses Walk-In Asian Customers Of Spying For China

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David Lui, a California resident, recounts a bad experience he and another Asian friend experienced when they went to the Starbuck's new Reserve Roastery on Capitol Hill on March 11.

Lui shared what happened in a Yelp posting. Upon entering the store, a Starbucks employee asked them if they are in the coffee business. Before Lui and his friend could answer, the man told them that they are free to copy all that Starbucks has and even its equipment.

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"We're an open book. If you want to steal our stuff for your store in China, go ahead, we're fine with that," the Starbucks employee said, quotes Seattle.eater.com.

After the "sermon", the man gave them a smile, while Lui and his friend just let the incident pass.

But after 15 minutes, the same man was back with the same "homily" for the duo. This time he added that they could even filch the beans and their suppliers. However, he said that they can't get the Starbucks training in China. "That's something we'll never give to you," the man said.

The story doesn't end there because Lui's Yelp posting was picked up by the Angry Asian Man blog. Starbucks customer service sought their help in identifying the erring employee so the coffee chain could investigate the matter.

Starbucks promised to place a gift in his Starbucks Gold account, but Lui said rather than get latte points, he wants Starbucks to follow through the integrity of their corporate leadership.

Starbucks' worry over competition is not imaginary. The only problem was that an over-eager employee thought every Asian-looking customer is a spy.

The real competition will not come from someone who opens a coffee franchise in China that looks like Starbucks but from a global chain like it - KFC. The fried chicken franchise announced in early March its plan to offer lower-cost premium coffee in China.

KFC pilot-tested the concept in December, and it has helped increase sales in the morning and afternoon. Financial Post reports that KFC in China will offer the lower-priced premium coffee in 2,500 outlets across the country by the end of 2015.

In contrast, Starbucks has only 1,500 outlets in China, while KFC has 4,500, which leaves it with 2,000 outlets more to offer the KFC coffee to its diners.

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