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News Technology

OpenTable Employee Caught Booking Hundreds Of False Reservations On Competitor’s Site

An OpenTable employee was recently caught making hundreds of fraudulent bookings through a competitor in an attempt to discredit them. In doing so, they may have uncovered a deeper problem about online reservation software.

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The unnamed employee had created multiple e-mail accounts to set up the false reservations through Reserve, one of OpenTable’s rivals. This resulted in hundreds of no-shows in at least 45 restaurants across the Chicago area, causing them to lose money as a result. According to Eater Chicago, this was all done in an attempt to discredit Reserve and get restaurants to move to OpenTable

The employee’s biggest move came on Valentine’s Day, a major revenue day for restaurants. It was then that Reserve software engineers noticed a spike in potentially fraudulent bookings and figured out what was going on. OpenTable then commenced their own investigation into the matter, determined the employee was acting alone, and terminated them.

OpenTable CEO Christa Quarles has since issued a public apology about what occurred. Still, the events reveal a shocking insight as to what these reservation platforms could potentially be used for. Restaurants can exploit their rivals and damage businesses by doing the same thing this employee did. As a result, their competitors would lose revenue due to empty seats, potentially even being forced to close as a result.

And what’s not to say that another OpenTable employee could do the same thing? Or somebody who works for one of their rivals? OpenTable says that their staffer acted alone, but they could have easily been motivated to do so by incentive (or a hidden directive). A culture where company staff are pressured to secure new clients regularly could influence them to perform such deeds. That’s what just happened at Wells Fargo last year, where bankers set up several false accounts under their clients’ names to meet quota demands from their bosses.

What this now former OpenTable employee did opens up a can of worms for online reservation websites and their users, who now know of a key exploit that can hurt their competitors. The big question that arises out of this scandal isn’t if somebody will pull a stunt like this again, it’s when.

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Hit-Or-Miss

The Definitive Guide To Subscription Services Of Major Coffee Chains (Part 1)

Coffee is in a constant battle against whiskey for the role of favorite personality-changing elixir in my life, but sometimes I can’t stand to wait in line at my local coffee shops. That being said, I don’t always have the time or patience to grind and brew/french press my way to happiness in the morning, but it always feels better making my coffee myself.

With Starbucks throwing its hat in the coffee subscription ring, it’s about time someone officiated the battle. This is the first of a three-part series tackling the dense subscription market and just how valuable it is to you, my dear readers.

From veterans and behemoths to the scrappy rookies, here’s the quick and dirty lowdown on some of the nation’s favorite roasters:

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*Starbucks and Caribou Coffee only offer frequency flexibility through their Build Your Own Subscriptions.

Dunn Brothers Coffee has some serious catching up to do in terms of their offerings, while Peet’s Coffee & Tea has been crushing the game.

The following chart is based on mid-range approximations for 12 ounces of coffee using 10 major coffee chains’ subscription service prices:

Jump to your favorite chain’s service in detail by using one of the following links: Blue Bottle Coffee, Caribou Coffee, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Dunkin’ Donuts, Dunn Brothers Coffee, Intelligentsia Coffee, Keurig Green Mountain, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Starbucks Coffee and Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

Unless otherwise noted, all of the following companies charge you only when your coffee ships; there are additional shipping costs.

Blue Bottle Coffee

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Founded in 2002, Blue Bottle Coffee has been experiencing substantial growth in the past five years. Falling into the realm of artisanal roasters, the company has a big business attitude with a few storefronts sprinkled in major cities.

They’ve been playing their cards pretty close to their chest lately, so either further success or immense failure is on the horizon.

Price Range

$11 to $46 per order

Half a bag (6oz): $11-13

One bag (12oz): $17-21

Two bags (24oz): $28-34

Three bags (36oz): $38-46

Product Loyalty: $12-42

Products Offered

Espresso: A selection of espressos, blends and origin coffees already available in any Blue Bottle coffeehouse.

Blend: A rotating selection of blends.

Origin: New single origin offering from Latin America, East Africa or the Pacific Islands.

Product Loyalty: A subscription to your favorite type of Blue Bottle Coffee.

Cycles Offered

By the week (1-4 increments)

How to Cancel

You can easily pause/skip or cancel using the Blue Bottle website.

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Caribou Coffee

Caribou

Caribou Coffee is a name known better in America’s heartland and has been fueling citizens for over 20 years.

Every new subscription account with Caribou receives a free (totally valuable, kind of useful, probably worthless) gift. All subscription types receive a 15 percent shipping discount and orders above $59 are allotted free shipping.

Price Range

$7.40-$31.98 per order

1/2lb $7.40-8.39

1lb $12.99-15.99

Two 1lb bags $21.98-31.98

Products Offered

Roastmaster’s Choice: You can choose from several different clubs including the self-explanatory Lighter Roast, Darker Roast and Decaf Lover’s, in addition to the Explorer’s Club which pulls roasts from all over the world. There’s also a club dedicated to replenishing your K-Cup inventory.

Design Your Own: You can mix and match Caribou’s selection of coffee and K-Cups.

Cycles Offered

Roastmaster’s Choice: Monthly in open-ended subscriptions, three-, six- or 12-month commitments

Design Your Own: Weekly, every other week and monthly

How to Cancel

Cancel the Design Your Own subscription at anytime online. Since you’re only charged when the Roastmaster’s Choice ships, you should be able to cancel before they send your next batch.

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The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

coffeebean

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, the arch-nemesis of our Starbucks overlords, has been holding its own in recent decades and has a diverse subscription service catalog to show for it.

Price Range

$7-39.95

Coffee (12oz): $8.95-39.95

Tea (20 tea bags): $8.75-20.75

K-Cups (16-count): $11.95

Powder (22oz): $11.95

CBTL Capsules (10-count): $7-11

Products Offered

Coffee: The coffee selection spans decaf and all the major staples, in terms of flavor and geographic cultivation.

Tea: A wide variety of teas is available in both bagged form and loose leaf.

K-Cups and CBTL Capsules: Either way your brand loyalty lies, Coffee Bean gives you two options to pop into your single serve coffee machine in the morning.

Powder: For those who need more pizzazz in their coffee, Coffee Bean’s French Deluxe Vanilla and Special Dutch Chocolate Powder are also available for purchase.

See Coffee Bean’s full selection here.

Cycles Offered

By the month (1-3 increments)

How to Cancel

Account suspension must occur six days before your estimated shipping date, which is emailed to you in advance, or else the suspension will only affect your next shipment.

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Dunkin’ Donuts

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One of the most well known names in the US coffee scene, Dunkin’ Donuts Regular Refills subscription service has existed for “more than 10 years,” according to Sherrill Kaplan, director of Digital & Loyalty Marketing.

Kaplan divulged that the brand America evidently runs on will be expanding its K-Cup offerings later this year, but here’s where the service currently stands:

Price Range

$5.99-$69.99 per order

Tea (20 bags): $5.99

Coffee (1lb): $8.99

2oz packs (48-count): $69.99

Products Offered

Tea: No-frills teas including black, green and decaf

Coffee: You can buy Decaf, French Vanilla, Hazelnut, Dark Roast and Original Blend in their ground forms. The Original Blend also has a whole bean variety and a pack of 48 bricks of ground coffee.

Cycles Offered

By the week (4, 6, 8, 10 increments)

How to Cancel

Cancel anytime online using your account.

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Dunn Brothers’ Coffee

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Almost 30 years ago, in the heartland of America, the Dunn brothers opened their first coffeehouse. Ever since they’ve been serving our country pride, a variety of roasts, and a questionable online order form.

Price Range

$31.98-31.99 (2lbs)

Products Offered

Light Selection, Medium Selection and Dark Selection: Pretty self-explanatory choices where you get 2lbs of your chosen roast each month.

Three Month Subscription: Saving a penny a month, you can choose from any of the above selections or a roaster’s selection. On their website, choosing this option doesn’t actually allow you to make that selection or specify the type of grinds you would like. You just get sent to a checkout page with all three months’ worth of shipping tacked onto your first month.

Cycles Offered

By the month with an option for a three-month commitment.

How to Cancel

You can use your account to cancel your monthly subscriptions, but the three-month commitment self-terminates.

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Intelligentsia Coffee

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Though I’ve never had a terrific customer service experience at any Intelligentsia storefront, I found their website and subscription service to be surprisingly consumer friendly, albeit minimalist. Everything was where it needed to be and they have a pretty relaxed return policy (they’ll refund/exchange ANYTHING you weren’t satisfied with up to 30 days after purchase) for such a relatively small company.

Price Range

$14-106

12oz  $14-18

5lbs $80-106

Products Offered

Analog Espresso, Black Cat Project

Classic Espresso, Black Cat Project

El Diablo Dark Roast

El Gallo Organic Breakfast Blend

Frequency Blend

House Blend

In-Season/Direct Trade Select Offering

Decaf Librarian’s Blend

Cycles Offered

By the week (1-4 increments)

How to Cancel

Cancel anytime online using your subscription account.

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Keurig Green Mountain

keurigs

The union of Keurig and Green Mountain brought together countless brand names in coffee, including Tully’s Coffee. Unfortunately, this union reigns supreme for K-Cup lovers; the company’s whole bean coffee offering pales in comparison to the wide array of K-cups available for auto-delivery.

Side note of immense bias: Tully’s Coffee = #RideOrDie

Price Range

$9.44-$56.99 (member pricing per order)

K-Cup Coffee (24- to 96-pack) $11.24-56.69

Coffee (10 to 12oz) $9.44-24.99

K-Cup Tea (16- to 24-pack)$10.34-19.34

Products Offered

K-Cup: All of them. Every K-Cup that exists whether it’s coffee, tea or hot cocoa.

Coffee: Green Mountain, Newman’s Own and Tully’s Coffee are all available for under $10, but Green Mountain’s Reserve Kona Coffee serves as a $25 outlier, even with member pricing.

Cycles Offered

By the week (2-12 increments)

How to Cancel

Edit or cancel at any point online; canceling back-ordered products requires a call to their customer center.

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Peet’s Coffee & Tea

peets

Peet’s Coffee & Tea set the standard for coffee subscriptions, offering them as early as the mid-1970s and taking them online in 2004. This is the only service that also allows you to add confectionery food items to your order in addition to Peet’s significant selection of coffee, teas, K-cups and coffee accessories.

They also offer the cheapest shipping I came across with a flat rate of $2, orders totaling more than $59 shipping for free, and upgraded shipping receiving a 50 percent discount.

Price Range

$2.25-77.80 per order

Coffee: $12.95-24.95 per lb., Kona and JR Reserve Blend $24.95 per 1/2lb.

K-Cups (16- to 96-count): $13.99-67.99

Tea (loose and bagged): $5.45-77.80

Treats and Spices: $2.25-20

Products Offered

Coffee: Ranges from standard espressos and blends to curated roast selections.

K-Cups: They carry eight different coffee styles with a range of cup counts, but you have to specifically go to the K-Cup section to add a set to your subscription.

Tea: Dozens of standard teas in their bagged and loose forms, along with designer teas sold by the pound.

Treats and Spices: This section, also not found in the site’s subscription section, is generally stocked with candies, chocolates and cookies, but you can also purchase vanilla beans or extract.

Cycles Offered

By the week (1-4, 6, and 8 increments) or you can choose a custom number of days.

How to Cancel

You can pause or cancel your subscription at any time using your online account.

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Starbucks Coffee

Bags of Starbucks small-lot coffee featuring the new "reserve" logo is on display at a preview of its new Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room in Seattle

Starbucks announced their coffee subscription service in February, making it the latest to join the game, despite being the most internationally popular coffee chain.

The subscription section of their website feels more like they were tardy to the party than fashionably late.

Price Range

$8.95-$288 per order

Whole Bean (8.8-48oz): $8.95-44.95

Reserve: $24-288

Verismo Cups & K-Cups (32- to 160-count): $23.95-109.95

Products Offered

Starbucks Reserve Roastery: You receive a small lot batch of specially selected coffee once a month.

Build Your Own: This much more flexible plan lets you add almost anything (excluding that month’s reserve selections) to your subscription at whichever frequency suits your lifestyle.

Cycles Offered

Starbucks Reserve Roastery: By the week (1-4 and 8 increments)

Build Your Own: Monthly in one-, three-, six- and 12-month commitments

How to Cancel

You can cancel the Build Your Own and ongoing Reserve option at any time, but you pay for the monthly commitments upfront.

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Stumptown Coffee Roasters

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Last, but certainly not least, we have the legends at Stumptown. Arguably one of the most prolific rising roasters in recent years, Stumptown began offering subscriptions in 2011.

Though they plan to revamp the service in the coming months, here’s how their current subscriptions work:

Price Range

$14-20 per order

12oz Favorite Coffee $14-15.75

12oz Roaster’s Pick $20

Products Offered

Favorite Coffee: If you love their Hair Bender Roast above all else, you can receive as much as you want (up to 10,000 12-ounce bags, according to their website) on whichever cycle matches your coffee drinking schedule. This plan is offered for all of their staple roasts.

Roaster’s Pick: For a slight cost bump, you can receive a roast specially chosen each month. You have free rein with quantity and frequency, but, regardless of the cycle you choose, the coffee will not change until the month does.

Cycles Offered

Favorite Coffee: By the week (1-4) or weekly for an entire year

Roaster’s Pick: By the week (1-4) at three- or six-month commitments

How to Cancel

You can cancel or pause your subscription anytime using your online Stumptown account, regardless of subscription type.

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Corporate coffee not your thing? Stay tuned for a (tl;dr) local edition featuring the most notable roasters from a major US coffee city near you.

Categories
Technology

‘Reserve’ App Completely Manages Your Restaurant Experience

Reserve-App

The fine-dining experience can often leave you flustered if you’re new to that world. Usually, things like recommendations and reservations can be a tad overwhelming. Because relying on technology is all the rage now (Black Mirror, anyone?), there’s an app that will completely take the wheel of your fine-dining experience. It’s called Reserve.

From recommending a restaurant to dine in to making a reservation for you, Reserve takes care of everything. The app will also pay for you and pretty much show you a night on the town. It kind of sounds like Reserve is taking you out on a date. Which is exactly what’s happening. If you bring someone along, they’ll more than likely be third-wheeling it.

The only work you’ll have to do is a few finger swipes and chewing your food. You might also have to put out, after.

Reserve can be found on both iPhone and Androids.

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss

Starbucks Launches Subscription Service and New Menu Items

Apparently, today is Christmas for Starbucks fans. Again. The company is rolling out a plethora of new items and services in the US today that might just change the way you start your day.

The Caramel Flan Latte has returned and it brought a few friends with it. I’m sure your doctor won’t mind if you grab a chocolate caramel muffin with a Tiramisu Latte or a bacon, egg and cheddar breakfast sandwich (OK, they’ll definitely mind). Luckily for your health, the sandwich is the only permanent addition, while the rest are seasonal.

For those of you concerned with your health, coconut milk is officially available as an alternative to dairy and soy. The substitution, an odd addition ahead of the obvious almond milk, lowers the calorie count of any drink, but leaves a sweet aftertaste.

Most importantly, Starbucks launched a coffee subscription service in an attempt to compete with rising roasters like Stumptown and Intelligentsia. The Starbucks Reserve Roastery subscriptions cost $24 a month and bring small-batch Reserve coffees to your door within 48 hours of roasting.

Basically, Starbucks is trying to woo the wallets off of customers right now, and they’re doing so in full evil genius fashion. They are distracting their complacent base with new menu items, while appealing to sideline hipsters with their Reserve expansion and health-conscious caffeine lovers with coconut milk.

I’m on to you, Starbucks.

*Sips Caramel Flan Latte*