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‘I’m not a grinch!’ Man intentionally ends ‘Pay it Forward’ chain at Starbucks

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PETERSBURG, Fla. — A pay it forward chain that began in a St. Petersburg, Florida, Starbucks linked more than 750 strangers in a two-day act of coffee kindness.

“It was a pleasant surprise. Everyone likes their coffee paid for. So it was nice,” one customer told CNN affiliate Bay News 9.

The chain reportedly began Wednesday morning when a woman in her 60s offered to buy coffee for the car behind her, a store employee told Bay News 9.

“There were some stops and starts to it since it started yesterday (Wednesday) morning at 7 a.m., but I do know it originally started through a customer,” said Starbucks spokesperson Linda Mills.

Participant Lucy Ramone went through the line twice on Wednesday.

“I was number 57 this morning,” Ramone said to the drive-through barista, according to Bay News 9. “What number am I now?” Ramone asked the barista.

“Number 297!”

Ramone raised her hands in victory. She had brought her son as a passenger to experience the second round of beverages. “I think it just puts a smile on people’s face,” she said.

“We are greatly humbled by the generosity of our customers and store partners in the organic Pay if Forward movement happening in St. Petersburg, Florida,” said Mills. “It’s truly a testament to the goodwill of our customers and our store team.”

The hundreds of acts of kindness had at least one public critic.

St. Petersburg blogger Peter Schorsch asked that readers don’t call him a “grinch” for allegedly ending the pay it forward chain.

“In case any of you are caught up in the Pay It Forward baloney at Starbucks. I just drove through the line, bought a venti mocha frap AND DID NOT PAY IT FORWARD. The chain is broken and this silliness should stop. (P.S. I tipped the baristas $100, just so you can’t call me a grinch.),” Schorsch posted on his Facebook account.

In a post on his website Schorsch wrote “customers were being told that they had had their drink paid for and then asked would they like to pay for the drink of the person next in line. That’s not generosity, that’s guilt.”

Mills said participation was voluntary.

“More than 750 people have participated in it at this one store, which is so amazing to see. Naturally, not everyone chose to participate, which is completely fine,” Mills said.

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  • silentdrgn

    I can understand not wanting to feel forced. Its something you should choose to do because you want to help somebody out. I am sure many who continued the chain did so simply to continue the chain rather than helping others out. The end result is the same but the reasoning is different.

    However, it seems like this blogger was overly proud of breaking the chain and did so to get publicity. If you don’t want to continue the chain that’s fine. You have your reasons. But to immediately jump on Twitter and proudly proclaim you were the one to break it? Publicity stunt. That’s just as bad.

    • Darth Intern (@DarkSideIntern)

      Agreed. I don’t care if he tipped the baristas $1000, he’s kind of a jerk. Then to proclaim on Twitter that he is proud of the fact just reinforces it.

  • Dan

    You know what’s funny about this? Only one person truly “pays it forward” everybody else just pays for their own drink and says no thank you to the free coffee. If it was really a “pay it forward” moment the person in front of you would ask what you were getting and pay for it; even if it were five drinks. Or you would only get a drink in the amount the person in front of you paid for. So if you usually get a drink that is $7.00 but the person in front only paid $5.00 well too bad; you don’t get to pay the difference because that would defeat the purpose.

  • Megan

    A chain can be started again. It’s not like that’s the only Starbucks around. Don’t like it? Don’t go there. Simple as that.

  • Chris Fucci

    If the barista asks the next person in line if they want to pay it forward, that is placing the person in a position of guilt. Second, there is something to just being able to accept something without having to give something back. There is nothing wrong with accepting a compliment and not giving one back. In fact, most people feel as though it is not as genuine on the return because they feel like the person felt as though they had to say something back. I see it no differently here. I can’t say I agree with the manner in which he gloated about ending it though. He went there with the intention of doing so based on the tweet leading up to it.

  • melissa

    The entire concept of pay it forward is to repay the favor with a favor, so it is actually paying it forward.II’m not sure howmuch I like that Starbucks was asking people to do so, but this guy is definitely an a**. He went there with the intention of ending it. It wwouldn’t of cost him a thing to keep it going,

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