The Starbucks at the Joyce Kilmer rest stop along the Jersey Turnpike refused to honor Jason’s 10% Starbucks gold card discount because they are a franchise location and not a corporate-owned store. Jason asked to cancel his drink order, but Starbucks had already brewed his drink and refused to refund his $6. Defeated, Jason called Starbucks corporate to share his disappointment. Their response provided a flavor shot of surprise.
So the other day, NJ Transit trains all went kaboom, so I wound up driving to my meeting in Jersey City. En route, I stopped at the Joyce Kilmer rest stop on the NJ Turnpike, and hit the Starbucks inside. Knowing that I’m on the turnpike, I accepted my fate of paying nearly $6 for my beverage. At least I don’t do that often. But I digress.. The girls there happily accepted my sbux gold card (the card that gives you 10% off on each visit), deducting the cash from the card, but did not give me the 10% off. They explained that because they’re a licensed store, not corporate owned, they don’t have to honor the discount, and choose not to.
“No problem,” I said, “just refund my money and keep your drink then.” They refused, since they had already started making the drink. Somewhat put off, I put in a call to SBUX customer service line. My point was simple, they should require stores that don’t honor the discount to post a sign saying they don’t. That’s all. No yelling, screaming, irate stuff, or anything like that. Just a simple request that they let people know what they’re getting into in stores like that.
The CS rep, whose name unfortunately eludes me just now, decided that SBUX needed to “make me whole, and give me an experience nothing short of fantastic.” I figured that meant I’d get a free drink coupon or something like that in the mail. I didn’t really even feel like that was necessary. His offer, a $50 sbux card mailed to me, which I could transfer the balance from onto my gold card. Despite me trying to convince him that he really didn’t need to do that, he insisted.
I’m floored. My goal was to spend 5 minutes on the phone with them and make them understand the need to let customers know what to expect in non-corp stores like the ones on the NJTP. Instead, they pulled out all the stops and went way beyond what they needed to.
$50? That’s like, four free drinks! Nice work, Starbucks.
(Photo: James Callan)