Cheer Chains

If you've been to Starbucks in the past week or so, you've been at risk of finding yourself trapped in a "cheer chain." What this means is that the person in line in front of you pays for your drink, and in return you're supposed to pay for the drink of the person behind you. This goes on and on, ad nauseam. The Associated Press reported on one cheer chain that totaled 1,013 customers.

The question is, are these cheer chains a true spontaneous phenomenon, or are they a cynically created pr stunt? The phenomenon supposedly began when Arthur Rosenfeld offered to pay for the drink of the guy behind him in the drive-thru line who was honking and yelling. Rosenfeld is a tai-chi master, and he wanted to change the man's consciousness through a random act of kindness. The guy who was honking decided to pay for the car behind him, etc. etc.

But I'm in the camp of those who, like, believe they're a pr stunt. Consumerist points out that Starbucks is even issuing coupons to encourage the cheer chain movement, plus they've set up a website about it. (Thanks, Bob)

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Posted on Sun Dec 23, 2007


I think it would be ideal if you got in line when one person was ahead of you, but no one is standing in line behind you. :D Free drink!

What if the person behind you orders something a lot more expensive than what you bought? That would suck.
Posted by Sakano  in  Ohio  on  Sun Dec 23, 2007  at  12:56 PM
I hope they start one of these "cheer chains" at the bank when I'm the last guy in line before closing, making my car payment...
Posted by Christopher  on  Sun Dec 23, 2007  at  01:28 PM
My thought is that the "cheer chain" may have started as claimed but Starbucks decided to capitalize on it. It is, however, a good reason to go in towards the end of the day when it is unlikely that there will be someone behind you. And if more people start going then, it might make the work of the employees harder, since they would have no down time before closing and any clean-up would have to be after the store closed.
Posted by Christopher Cole  on  Sun Dec 23, 2007  at  03:54 PM
Yup, I'm definitely in the "P.R. stunt" camp on this one. Even if they were spontaneously created by customers, no one (except for Starbucks and the last person in line) is really getting anything out of this. The first guy in line really loses out as he is effectively paying for the last guy.

Hey, Starbucks, want to REALLY promote "cheer?" Why don't you, a billion-dollar corporation, pay for random customers coffee drinks?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Sun Dec 23, 2007  at  05:42 PM
Sounds good CMG
Other restaurants sometimes buy meals for their customers.
Take lunch today for me 😊
the owner bought my wife and my grub. Told us it was xmas.
Posted by Sharruma  in  capable of finishing a coherent  on  Sun Dec 23, 2007  at  07:15 PM
And if you refuse to pay for the guy behind you?
Posted by samemo  on  Mon Dec 24, 2007  at  02:04 AM
It happens all the time at Tim Hortons in Canada. I have paid for many coffees in my time & have had many paid for me.
Posted by Sylvia  on  Mon Dec 24, 2007  at  09:43 AM
"And if you refuse to pay for the guy behind you?"

The Cheer Police taser you to within an inch of your life. The upside, though, is that you get to taser the next guy in line.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Mon Dec 24, 2007  at  12:20 PM
The supposed originator of this offered to pay for the drink for someone in a car behind him - how did they know the price of that drink or even if the fellow intended to buy one anyway?
Posted by Peter  on  Mon Dec 24, 2007  at  02:19 PM
The way most drive-thru's work by the time you are next in line at the window they already have the order tallied up and half prepared.
Posted by Blondin  on  Mon Dec 24, 2007  at  05:34 PM
"... the owner bought my wife and my grub ..."

How much did you get for your wife, Sharruma?
Posted by Big Gary  on  Tue Dec 25, 2007  at  08:57 PM
I can see this working in a drive-thru, b/c it's likely the other order is already tallied Blondin mentioned. But inside? The other person hasn't even ORDERED yet. What if they are there for an office run? They could be buying 10 cups of coffe...and you've given them what...$5?? Plus...Jason is a fan of some frappy-whatsit crap and has dragged me in with him a few times. The base drink is $X.00, but then he adds all these shots of things and by the time he's done he's added like $3 to the total.

I don't really see this working out so well.
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Fri Dec 28, 2007  at  02:02 PM
In the spirit of the season, I cheerfully offer to pay for all of the comments posted here before mine.
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Mon Dec 31, 2007  at  07:19 PM
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Mon Dec 31, 2007  at  07:19 PM
So what happens if all you want - and all you have money for - is a tiny little espresso and the guy behind you wants 3 large cappucinos and a muffin? It all seems unfair to me - people buy what they afford, and shouldn't be made to pay for someone's else choice, based on someone's else's income. Besides, it's not even charity - charity is helping those in need. This is literally passing the buck.
Posted by Nona  on  Thu Jan 03, 2008  at  05:41 AM
this is plain stupid and has nothing to do with gratitude whatsoever. you better just invite somebody to something - no social pressure, no obligation. it's that easy.
Posted by dusk  on  Mon Jan 07, 2008  at  07:19 PM
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