A Florida man put an end to another “pay it forward” streak at a local Starbucks because he said he thinks people were participating out of “guilt,” not “generosity.”
Peter Schorsch, a blogger, drove to the Starbucks drive-thru in St. Petersburg, Florida, on Thursday after hearing about the pay it forward phenomenon there that ended with customer No. 458, a woman, the day before. After he ordered two Venti Mocha Frappuccinos, the barista told him his first drink had been paid for by the previous customer and asked if he would like to pay for the next customer.
“I told him no,” Schorsch, of St. Petersburg, told ABC News. “When the barista asks you to pay it forward, it is no longer spontaneous.”
Though Schorsch didn't pay for the next customer at the drive-thru, he said he tipped the barista $100.
“I’m really not trying to be a Grinch,” Schorsch said. “I know things are hard for baristas and I am willing to help people.”
“I just don’t want to be forced into doing something,” said Schorsch, who is also a political consultant. “This is turning into a social phenomenon and I had to put an end to it.”
When baristas ask customers to pay for the next customer, some patrons simply oblige out of guilt, not generosity, he said.
“Although I can’t prove it, I think this has become an organic marketing ploy for Starbucks,” Schorsch said. “I love Starbucks. I have nothing against them. But this takes away the genuineness.”
Schorsch said some patrons are driving to this particular store after they heard about the pay it forward streak.
“This is turning into something ridiculous and cheesy,” Schorsch said.
“It just seems like a First World problem to me. Middle-class people sitting in their cars at a drive-thru, sipping a $5 drink and worrying about someone breaking the ranks,” Schorsch said.
“There is a little humor being a contrarian, but I think if you really want to help, find someone that obviously needs help, like the homeless,” Schorsch said.
"Also, I got a $6 Venti Frappuccino. Someone might just get a $2 coffee," Schorsch said. "This is unfair to that person who paid for me."
An employee at this Starbucks location referred ABC News to the company’s corporate media relations hotline.
"This happens quite often in our stores," Starbucks spokeswoman Linda Mills told ABC News. "People are usually very happy to do it."
"We by no means have the expectation for the customer to carry it on. We are absolutely not pushing for it," Mills said.
Schorsch isn't a stranger to controversy. Those active in politics had made allegations that Schorsch asked for money from interviewees in exchange for good stories. Schorsch denied the "quid pro quo" allegations and no charges were filed.
"I just wrote a short blog about the Starbucks encounter yesterday," Schorsch said. "I was by no means advertising for my blog."
"I have about 60 advertisers on my blog," Schorsch said. "I don't think my credibility is in question."
"I let other people decide if I'm credible," he said.