I’m Watching You Starbucks!

Today I made the “mistake” of stopping in Starbucks for iced coffee rather than waiting to get into work for my usual hot coffee with french vanilla creamer from the breakroom.   In times of coffee addiction for me (ie right now), I tend to be pretty cranky pre-coffee in the mornings.  I won’t necessarily say anything to anyone that gives any clues of my crankiness, but I will burn with raging anger on the inside–a volcano just waiting to blow (so far, no volcanic eruptions but I always feel like it’s only a matter of time). 

So this morning, what am I told pre-coffee?  I’m told that Starbucks has decided to stop honoring my 0ne year discount card (supposed to be valid until April 2010).  I’m supposed to get 10% off everything and other random perks.  And really, 10% this morning was only about 23 cents, but its THE PRINCIPLE OF THE MATTER.   You don’t get to just make an agreement with someone for one year and then just decide to not honor it.   That works if you go bankrupt, even if you go bankrupt and come back the next day with a slightly different name (a la Tom Petersons becoming Tom Petersons and Gloria’s Too), but it doesn’t work if you’re the same ole company.   I am pretty sure that is called “breach of contract.”   You hear that Starbucks??

The ironic part of all of this is that my 1L (first year) of law school, I wrote the top essay for part of my Fall Contracts final regarding people suing over a coffee shop not honoring “free drink” coffee coupons.   The issue was whether the coupons constituted a contract or not.  The funny thing is that after all of my analysis, I ended the essay with something like:

“But maybe people should just chill out.  It’s really not worth suing over one a cup of coffee ;)”

I can’t remember the exact words, but that was the gist of it, and I am positive that the wink was included.  I know this because my professor put my answer on our class TWEN page as an example of a good answer, wink and all. 

So here I am, blazing mad at Starbucks, for not honoring what I think is a “contract” over “coffee.”   To be fair, I am positive Starbucks sent me a letter at one point telling me they were still going to honor my membership until April (of course you are!  You HAVE to!).  It is very possible that this morning, while I wasn’t paying attention, the know-it-all barista didn’t even swipe my card before she told me that my discount doesn’t apply anymore.  It’s possible my card still works and she just didn’t try.  

I sent an email off to Starbucks headquarters this morning (from my personal email), asking whether it was an error by the Starbucks I went to this morning, or if they actually intend on not honoring my discount anymore.   I worked in the words “breach of contract” so hopefully they’ll know I’m serious and respond to me pretty quickly.   It’s one thing to not honor a coupon you gave someone for free like the hypothetical coffee shop in my 1L essay.  It’s another thing to just stop honoring discount agreements that people PAID for.   I’m hoping the people in the Starbucks legal department aren’t complete idiots, and already realize this.   Let’s hope. 

(Btw my coffee is slowly starting to kick in, the coffee that was $0.23 more than usual, so I am starting to feel a little less cranky about the whole situation.  But it’s still unfair and wrong Starbucks!  You better email me back soon!  I know you read my blog!! ;))


2 thoughts on “I’m Watching You Starbucks!

    • I was fuming while I waited to hear back (still haven’t) so I started doing a little research on their website and I found a page that says that Starbucks will still honor my gold card membership until it expires (April 2010). I printed off the page and took it down to the Starbucks I went to this morning, and the manager tried my card and apparently my card does still work, the girl this morning just didn’t try it.

      So, apparently Starbucks isn’t dumb/tricky enough to not honor paid contracts with people. However, it appears that neither the manager or baristas at my local store were aware that Starbucks would still honor gold card memberships. So there is a slight chance that while Starbucks is saying online they still honor the memberships, they are not properly informing their baristas.. in which case all the customers who aren’t lawyers and don’t realize it’s illegal will be getting screwed in the stores by baristas telling them the cards aren’t valid anymore.

      Still waiting on an email response to see what Starbucks has to say about that 😉

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