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Feb 25

After having moved to America, I admired few things as much as the Starbuck’s loyalty program. Basically you earned a star for every visit to a Starbucks store and it took 30 stars to reach gold status. After you reach gold status, you would get a free drink every 12 stars.  It was nothing great especially when you consider that McDonald’s McCafe has a 5 drink punch card system. However it usually worked as Starbucks would often send out mailers with bonus stars etc.

Last week Starbucks announced far reaching changes to the program which reward only high spenders and make it exceedingly hard for tall/short coffee drinkers to get free drinks. As an example, if you spent $4 on an average on coffee, even without any bonus starts it would take you just $48 to get a free drink or a snack. An OK deal, not too good, but more importantly not too bad either. However under the new rewards program you would earn 2 stars for every dollar you spend. So $48 only gets you 96 stars which is short of the free drink. You must spend $62.5 to get the 125 stars needed for a free drink now. Ofcourse if you have a ton of money and didnt need the occasional free coffee anyway, the Starbucks program rewards you. When people sais they want more stars, this is definitely not what they meant. However that’s the stupid PR spin given to the change by Starbucks.

Here is an infographic showing the changes (ownership is with starbucks, please ignore copyright statement on this) :


Also worth noting is that the program sucks even more for new customers. Earlier on an average it would cost you $120 to become a gold customer, however now you would need to spend $150 to become gold and then spend an additional $62.5 to get a free coffee. A net expenditure of $212.5 .

What can I do to stop this change ?

Starbucks is spending big bucks to advertise this change, however there is already ton of social media backlash. You should voice your concerns online and email Starbucks about the change. Also you can call Starbucks and ask them for a refund of your gift cards since they have significantly devalued the program. This should tell Starbucks that it’s customers don’t appreciate the changes and force them to do a rethink.

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