The Reason Starbucks Employees Aren't Fans Of Pay It Forward Lines

The concept of paying it forward sounds simple: Instead of simply paying for your customized coffee order from the Winter Feels Menu at Starbucks, you pick up the tab for the person in line behind you as well. It's meant to spread joy as a random act of kindness in the form of a pleasant surprise for the guest who's unexpectedly gotten something entirely free. Everyone loves free stuff, right?

Paying it forward doesn't always end with that single act of kindness, though, when the person behind you opts to continue paying it forward, picking up the tab for the person behind them. In fact, Live for Another claims to have created the longest ever pay it forward chain that lasted almost two days and included more than 3600 participants. Apparently, a documentary about the pay it forward chain is forthcoming, but that doesn't mean everyone's a fan of the practice. In fact, if you ask Starbucks baristas, both past and present, you'll find out just how much they dislike pay it forward lines.

Why do baristas dislike pay it forward lines?

One reason Starbucks baristas hate pay it forward lines is because it causes chaos. TODAY talked to Starbucks baristas about the practice, and while some of them love the spirit behind the gesture, they also remarked on how paying it forward can mess up the flow, causing confusion about orders and also irritating customers who'd planned to accrue Starbucks Rewards points. Given the fact that drive-thru efficiency is critical for food and beverage operations, anything that slows the line down is likely to irritate employees and customers alike.

In addition, one five-year Starbucks employee, who wished to stay anonymous, told TODAY that pay it forward lines focus attention on doing something nice for people who are already queued up to pay "for a cup of sugar and milk for almost $7," rather than sending a little kindness the barista's way. Taste of Home notes that Starbucks barista Bailey Cassidy said, "'I feel like if customers want to brighten someone's day, consider tipping the baristas, [because] they are severely overworked, understaffed, and underappreciated, and it would make their day." While pay it forward lines are intended to spread happiness, it appears that they make things harder for the employees who have to manage the sometimes complicated process.