UPDATED AUGUST 10, 2009 @ 9:34 AM:
Here’s yet ANOTHER reason to avoid Tim Hortons: Apparently they are sponsoring an anti-LGBT event in Rhode Island held by the hate-mongering National Organization for Marriage. Hello? If your company claims to support local communities, that community includes gays and lesbians—regardless of your opinion on gay marriage. Stop being a bunch of hypocrites, Tim Hortons. And for those who are interested, please sign the petition to put a stop to their atrocious behaviour.
What is the fascination with Tim Hortons? Much like the American obsession with Starbucks, I just don’t get it, but having worked for the evil empire (i.e. Starbucks) for a while has at least given me some appreciation for the way their world works. My experiences with Tim Hortons, however, have been almost uniformly negative.
Allow me to share a few thoughts on the subject.
First of all, Timmies is basically a coffee shop. A low-brow version of a café, the coffee shop is not designed to be aesthetically pleasing or to encourage patrons to stay and while away the hours with a gourmet brew. No, the coffee shop is about utility; it is to coffee what McDonald’s is to burgers. This is not to say that coffee shops are inherently inferior to cafés, but rather to suggest that it involves a different mindset. It’s more about getting in and getting out as quickly as possible, potentially during a road trip or on your morning commute. Coffee shops aren’t about great coffee, they’re about working-class coffee that is cheap, hot, and ready to go.
That being said, Timmies is one of the WORST coffee shops I’ve ever seen. Particularly in Quebec, the problem is that while they give the illusion of all being exactly the same (in the McDonald’s sense of the word, where a Big Mac is always a Big Mac), they are not. Each outlet offers different menu items; some don’t serve breakfast sandwiches, others don’t serve chili or soups. How would you feel if you went into a chain restaurant, expecting the chain menu, and then were told, “Sorry, we don’t serve half of those items at this outlet”? It’s infuriating, really.
And did I mention that the Quebec Tim’s don’t take debit cards?!
Okay, so maybe you’re popping in for a donut and a coffee, which costs about $1.95 at the most. You probably have change. But what if you want a couple of sandwiches and some coffees and a box of donuts for your co-workers? That’s about $15 worth of merchandise. Are you honestly telling me you can’t take debit or credit cards, that I must have cash on me, and that you don’t even have one of those sketch-o independent ATMs in your store? This is maddening!
All in all, I’ve found that the Tim Hortons near Concordia is the only one in the province that provides regular service, i.e. a fast-moving line, all menu items, and a dedicated staff to make sandwiches (rather than the skeleton crews that have ALL cashiers ALSO making sandwiches, rather than designating one employee as the sandwich maker). The others have been uniformly bizarre, with employees telling me things like, “We don’t serve breakfast sandwiches,” and “We don’t take debit cards,” in rude tones, as if it should have been obvious when I stepped through the door—even though I’d never patronized their establishment before.
To me, this kind of customer service and brand sabotage is unacceptable, yet Canadians still stand behind and worship Tim Hortons as if it’s a service they cannot live without! Has the world gone mad? Why should I wait 20 minutes in a line-up of FOUR PEOPLE just to get a small cup of coffee (which, by the way, I would’ve gotten in a maximum of 3 minutes at Starbucks, no matter how long the line-up, as per their policy)? Why wouldn’t two lines be divided into the “beverage only” and “sandwich” lines, if there are only two employees, in order to expedite service?
Frankly, I just don’t get it, and I don’t think this chain deserves my service. If it weren’t for the gift card I received for Xmas, I wouldn’t even be writing this, because I never go to Tim Hortons unless I’m with a friend who’s gotta have a double-double. But I’d really like to know: Can anybody explain the average Canadian’s love for this overrated coffee shop, particularly in this age of Starbucks, Second Cup, Van Houtte, etc. on every corner?