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2.4 Starbucks: Customers vs Bean Counters:
=> The Computer Ate My Reward!

February 03, 2013

Starbucks: Customers vs Bean Counters:
=> The Computer Ate My Reward!

I went into a local Starbucks today and when I requested the "been there 12 times" reward, I learned that it had "been removed".
The computer had eaten my reward!

It seems that, now that the "rewards" are "easy to view online" from their database, they can also easily "enforce" the expiration date!  Not only do they invalidate the "reward" but they now make it disappear like it never happened.

Up until late last year, if you had a certain number of transactions, you got a "free drink": signified by a postcard sent to you.  The postcard had an expiration, but, as long as it wasn't too far out of date, the baristas just accepted them.  I'm not even sure that I actually even saw them check!

But, in the interest of "customer ease of use" (i.e. accounting efficiency, etc), it is now all online and the IT folk really do make them "expire".  I assume that this occurs for one or both of two reasons:

  1. the IT implementer folk were told "make it expire", so it does.
  2. more likely the bean counter folk (and I don't mean the warehouse coffee bean inventory folk) in conjunction with wonderful new directives from the Feds to "protect" the poor, innocent, naive consumer, dictated that "thou shalt accrue" $ to provide the benefits.
All those old rewards must have money saved to pay for them in case Starbucks goes bankrupt....

Hey Starbucks!
Why don't you kow-tow to the Feds but also be customer oriented?
A more creative solution to the dilemma of Feds & Bean Counter vs customer would be:

  1. don't make the "expired" reward disappear, make it "fade".
  2. if a customer requests the reward, have the barista
    work magic
    to make the reward useable!
It is called "empowering the barista to make the customer happy"!

I know things like this are actually part of the training of the baristas and they do it when it makes sense, but making something like this a "barista magic" will make folk happy.

Turns out, on checking my account, the barista taking my order (first of two orders) actually did this for me: just a simple drink not charged for.
I had to research it to determine that it happened but it makes me feel much better about Starbucks.
Might have had more impact as a "sales/PR item" if the barista could take credit for it: my tip might have been bigger.

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