White House Reporter Mark Knoller Gets Call From Starbucks VP After $50-Gate Tweets


If you need any more evidence of the power of social media, look no further than this. CBS Radio White House Correspondent Mark Knoller got a call from a Starbucks VP after a series of tweets in which he complained about a barrista who wouldn’t accept his fifty-dollar bill. According to Knoller, the executive offered an apology, but nothing much else. If Starbucks knows what’s good for them, they’ll shoot Knoller out some gift cards, or a couple pounds of Colombian Delight, or whatever they call their best coffee.

Fishbowl DC writer and Bill Press Show producer Peter Ogburn first noticed Knoller’s difficulty with a cashier who obviously never heard of “Change We Can Believe In”:

CBS Radio White House Correspondent Mark Knoller has become legendary for his rants on Twitter. Today, he is having a hard time with his local Starbucks. On his way into the White House, Knoller stopped off for breakfast and tried to use a 50 dollar bill (must be nice) to pay for his breakfast, which was less than 10 dollars. When they explained they don’t take bills as large as $50, he took to Twitter and did what any normal person would do — he wrote the Secretary of Treasury.

Jim Romanesko has the play-by-play, and the happy-ish resolution:

Here’s how Knoller — the CBS Radio White House reporter who once made the front page of the Wall Street Journal — forced an apology out of Starbucks:

May 1: 7:15 a.m. tweet: Memo to Tim Geithner: money signed by you as Secy of Treasury rejected at Starbucks nearest the WH.

May 1: 7:16 a.m. Tried to pay for my $9.74 purchase at Starbucks this morning, but my $50 bill signed by Geithner was not accepted.

May 1, 7:16 a.m.: The Federal Reserve Note, 2009 series, states it is “legal tender for all debts public and private.” But not at Starbucks.

May 1, 7:18 a.m. Had to peal off ten singles to pay my bill. Is it possible Starbucks didn’t have 2 twenties in the register at 8AM? Nope.

May 1, 7:50 a.m. Mrs Obama does an Obama Campaign fundraiser in Las Vegas this morning. Am certain they accept $50 bills.

Finally, Knoller gets Starbucks corporate office’s attention.

May 3, 3:27 p.m. Just got a call from a Starbucks VP who says their store should have “absolutely” accepted my $50 bill the other day.

May 3, 3:27 p.m. The Starbucks official was courteous and apologetic over the episode and said its employee should not have turned down my fifty.

May 3, 3:28 p.m. Thanks for the call, Starbucks. Much appreciated.

Wait, that’s it? Granted, it was nice of the guy to reach out, but I’m not sure he realized just who he was talking to, or where. Mark Knoller is a Twitter God in Washington DC, with a large, and more importantly, influential following. DC also happens to be a place where you can’t throw a rock without hitting a Starbuck’s…and three other good places to get coffee, with free WiFi. (Last time I checked, which was a few years ago, you had to have a credit card or a subscription to log in at Starbucks).

Knoller confirms via email that Starbucks offered nothing more than the apology. “They didn’t offer and I would not have accepted,” he says, but it would have been nice if they had offered.

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