There's nothing like brutal, Internet-enabled buzz to make a company think twice about a hasty decision. Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX) has decided to return the smallest (and cheapest) "tall" drink size to its drive-through menu options, lest the company foster the idea that Starbucks was trying to shortchange its most hurried customers.

The controversy began when Starbucks only listed the 16-ounce and 20-ounce "grande" and "venti" beverage size options on its drive-through menus. "Tall" is the 12-ounce size. Drive-through customers could still order a tall beverage, even though it wasn't publicized. Anybody in the know is also aware of a "short" eight-ounce beverage size that isn't advertised on the Starbucks menu, inside or out.

The ensuing Internet buzz suggested that Starbucks was being greedy and sneaky, implying that the company was trying to encourage drive-through customers to spend more. A poll conducted by MSNBC showed that 75% of respondents felt ditching the tall size was "just encouraging people to spend more and consume more calories."

Starbucks said it had made the change to simplify its drive-through menu, which customers had complained was too cluttered.

Starbucks faces plenty of competition from dedicated java purveyors Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (Nasdaq: GMCR), Peet's (Nasdaq: PEET), and Caribou (Nasdaq: CBOU), not to mention Panera and Dunkin' Donuts. McDonald's (NYSE: MCD) has also become a formidable rival in the coffee field, and it's practically a grizzled veteran in the drive-through biz. Risking customers' wrath with any perception it might be deliberately trying to squeeze a few cents extra out of drive-through transactions wouldn't help Starbucks compete more effectively.

Starbucks did the right thing by responding quickly to the criticism and making it right with customers, even if its original move was seemingly innocent and misunderstood. Appearing stealthy, sneaky, or self-serving to customers is the last thing a company like Starbucks wants or needs.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Starbucks is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation.

Alyce Lomax owns shares of Starbucks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. True to its name, The Motley Fool is made up of a motley assortment of writers and analysts, each with a unique perspective; sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but we all believe in the power of learning from each other through our Foolish community. The Fool has a disclosure policy.