Is It Morally Wrong To Buy Stolen Starbucks Free Drink Coupons On eBay?

Starbucks Gossip has an interesting moral quandary for you Consumerists:

Is it morally wrong to buy stolen “Free Drink” coupons on eBay in order to drink your Starbucks for pennies on the dollar?” Apparently, there’s a seedy underground of bulk Starbucks coupon dealers operating in the shadows of the coffee giant.

From Starbucks Gossip:

“For five or six years now I’ve been buying my drinks at Starbucks with free drink coupons. I buy them in bulk online at eBay. I have talked to the company officers about this, and they don’t seem to really care, so I feel like if they don’t care why should I? The coupons save me about half of my drink cost, unless I go nuts and get a vente or extra shots. Why do you think Starbucks don’t seem to care? I know that the people I buy them from are stealing them from the store and then selling them on eBay. I just got my 2008 supply of coupons at $2.47 per coupon.”

The tipster says that when he contacted Starbucks to ask if this was evil behavior on his part, they just thanked him for being a loyal Starbucks customer and sent a $20.00 gift certificate for his trouble.

Wouldn’t you be suspicious of a guy who’s always getting drinks with free-drink coupons? [Starbucks Gossip]
(Photo:Travelin’ Librarian)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Abusiveelusive says:

    “Is It Morally Wrong To Buy Stolen Starbucks Free Drink Coupons On eBay?”

    Yes. Stolen good are stolen goods.

  2. RottNDude says:

    I can’t believe this question is even being posed. Is it ever moral (not to mention legal) to purchase goods if you’re aware they’re stolen?

  3. Jasmo says:

    If you’re saving money, it can’t be morally wrong, could it?

  4. nonzenze says:

    How do we know they are stolen? If the company blesses em, they are legit.

  5. Dead Wrestlers Society says:

    Yeah, I’m guessing the suits don’t care because you will buy other otherpriced stuff once you get into the Starbucks and/or you will take a friend with you and they will do the same.

    Originally, I thought “stolen” = bad, but if the higher ups know about it and don’t care I guess it’s okay.

  6. shan6 says:

    Wrong? Yes. Do I feel bad for Starbucks? No.

  7. Tzepish says:

    @Abusiveelusive: Agreement.

  8. Are they stolen, or just re-produced. I think headquarters would get wise to requests for more coupons than normal at their sites. And if they are wise, and could care less, then it’s Below moral, but not Poor moral, b/c it’s certainly not Average moral.

  9. Charybdis says:

    Consumer activists shouldn’t be endorsing or condoning illegal behavior amongst their readers. Just because you hate a company does not make it morally acceptable to commit or benefit from illegal acts against them. This isn’t civil disobedience – it’s theft.

  10. smitty1123 says:

    I think it’s wrong and the tipster is clearly a jerk. However, I also think morality is subjective, so what I think is largely irrelevant.

  11. I once went to a college where the college owned the vending machines. In helping a cute co-ed one day with a stuck beverage, I realized that with the slide-down bottle Snapple machines, a little shaking could produce free beverages. I did this for at least 1.5 years while I attended. There were cameras on the vending machines, but they were hardly ever checked, because I could put a post-it on the lens, and it would stay like that for about a week. I justified it because the college owned the machines, and were profiting off the students.

  12. Hedgy2136 says:

    Now that the cat’s out of the bag, you’re gonna have to pay a little more for your free coffee. All of the auctions I looked at were running pretty close to retail (although most offered free shipping). I actually saw one that went for more than the face value. Go figure…

  13. Dead Wrestlers Society says:

    @GitEmSteveDave: The laundry room in my college dorm had two washers and a dryer that if you just did the coin slot right you could get the dryer to start and get your quarters back.

    I always wondered what the person who collected the money thought when the washers would be full of quarters and there would be like $2 in the dryer.

  14. Geekybiker says:

    Buying property you believe to be stolen = morally wrong. Doesn’t matter if you think starbucks is “evil” or its “just a drop in the bucket” Just because its a big corporation doesnt make theft, or purchase of stolen goods moral.

  15. semanticantics says:

    It is morally wrong to pay $2.47 as a “deal” on a cup of coffee.

  16. @public enemy #1: There was also a Pepsi machine right next to the Snapple machine that would jam with quarters. In helping another lovely co-ed get her “lost” money back, I dicovered with a bent paper clip, I could usually get gas money out of the machine each week(gas was under a buck a gallon back then, and my Stanza was good with gas). I justified this because no one ever repaired the machine.

  17. namenomore says:

    As a former Barista, I can attest that the Company definitely thinks that this is illegal behavior and is not above going after a mom in our community who would unload her van of kids with these coupons, since I was the bastard who ratted her out.

  18. pepe prawn says:

    corporate printed the coupons so they know how many should be out there. if they stop printing them, eventually all of them will be gone.

    if some employee snagged a bunch of them and then sell them them online, well that’s another story. that’s not very nice.

  19. ThomFabian says:

    Stealing is wrong.
    Profiting (knowingly) from stealing is wrong as well.

  20. UpsetPanda says:

    @public enemy #1: Really wet college students.

    @nonzenze: Even if they’re not stolen, I think Starbucks is playing cool on this one because they have a loyal customer base and they could endanger that if they are perceived to be doing somthing ‘not cool.’ For the most part, the people who order the no whip caramel macchiato or the pumpkin spice lattes on a day to day basis don’t actually enjoy coffee. They get them because the brand is popular and the drinks are hip. I know people who add up to half a cup of creamer to their regular coffee because they hate the taste of coffee but they want to be known as someone who fits in with the coffee drinkers. It’s a strange thing to do to blend in, but what do I know? I’m a coffee drinker.

  21. ChChChacos says:

    I just checked out Ebay to see how many of these exist and I was amazed at how many coupons are on the site. ( [] ) although, I personally don’t think I’d use this option of buying coupons. Plus I don’t live in an area where there’s many Starbuck’s anymore. I recently moved to Massachusetts and the thing here seems to be Dunkin Donuts, I can only find a Starbucks when I go inside my local target and they have a little kiosk set up in there.

  22. cashmerewhore says:
  23. darkened says:

    Morality is entirely subjective, stealing is wrong only if you believe it is wrong. Not beleiving in something that is legally defined as wrong, does not alleviate the possible repercussions for following what you believe is right. However it does make your actions to YOURSELF as right irregardless to how others might view your actions.

  24. SoCalGNX says:

    Addition is a terrible thing.

  25. SoCalGNX says:

    Yes and addiction is too!

  26. MercuryPDX says:
  27. qwickone says:

    @ChChChacos: I didnt know that a place existed in US that wasn’t overrun by Starbucks. I live in DC where you can find them on 2-3 corners of the same intersection.

  28. Coder4Life says:

    Starbucks employees are probabylo seling them and starbucks probably doesn’t care they are. Because people will eventually get hooked on these drinks and they will keep coming back when starbucks stops sending these out.

    They aren’t stupid..

  29. FatLynn says:

    Are we certain that Starbucks itself isn’t selling these coupons on ebay?

  30. Balisong says:

    I don’t know, but it is morally wrong to go to Starbucks.

    Support your local coffee houses, folks.

  31. nonzenze says:

    panda: I don’t get it – if the suits say it’s OK that makes it OK regardless of their motives.

  32. forgottenpassword says:

    I did the same with one dollar off lipton tea coupons off of ebay last year. I really stocked up & saved a lot of money. I KNOW that the coupons were taken in bulk (a customer taking the whole pad of coupons from grocery store promotional displays instead of just taking a few like they are supposed to do). Meh… I dont see anything wrong with it.

    One thing odd I noticed in a grocery store last year was a lipton tea display with a bunch of coupon pads attached, but EVERY SINGLE COUPON (must have been at least a thousand) had a black mark written thru the UPC code by a black sharpie marker… making them unscannable)…. why would this be done? Why would they (either the lipton distributor/delivery man OR grocery store employee) mark thru them all & then leave them attached to the display? I dont understand. MAybe someone could explain?

  33. johnva says:

    Morality is subjective, but if you think stealing is wrong then I would say this is probably “wrong” if you know they are stolen. It’s probably also illegal if you are knowingly buying stolen goods.

  34. gorckat says:

    Are we certain that Starbucks itself isn’t selling these coupons on ebay?

    A) Print and give away coupons for free drinks
    B) Print and sell coupons for free drinks

    I’ll take B, Mr CEO!

  35. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    @Balisong: Ding ding ding. There’s the answer. They’d rather give you a free cup of coffee that costs them a few cents and have to pay the competition and, in turn, keep the competition afloat.

    If their plans for world domination actually come to fruition (no more local coffee houses) don’t expect them to stay so cool about coupons.

  36. forgottenpassword says:


    I think it is illegal to sell coupons. BUT coupon sellers get around this by saying that you are paying for their time/service to collect said coupons…. so you arent actually buying the coupons. The coupons are free.

  37. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    @Applekid: ” … a few cents and have to pay … ” should be ” … a few cents than have you pay … “

  38. JeffMc says:

    I have to side with the morally wrong crowd.

    But I’d suspect the reason Starbucks doesn’t care is that as soon as those coupons are printed the accountants mark it in the books as a cup owed. It doesn’t matter to them how you got the coupon, the money’s already magically gone anyway.

  39. namenomore says:

    HEY. The fucking company thinks it’s wrong. I don’t know why this keeps coming up, but it’s all over the training material. Managers are supposed to keep an on hand count of these coupons everytime there is a shift change so that they can find out if people are stealing them.

  40. HOP says:

    no problem with me….i don’t do starbucks

  41. EvilConservative says:

    “Morality is totally subjective.” It boggles my mind. So, you must therefore be OK with the person who honestly believes he or she has a right to your stuff to just take it, including the guy in the Volvo who decides to blow you away because he has a moral right to, given that last lane-change you made? What a remarkable bunch of moral-relativists we have here!

    For those of you who need direction here, given this is even posted, YES it is wrong to traffic in any goods not having a “clean” chain of custody. Now, back to the playground all of you and thanks for asking. Jeesh.

  42. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @onetakedizzle: That is awesome.

    I don’t know who the tipster actually talked to when they contacted Starbucks but I seriously doubt it was anyone high up in the chain.

  43. ShadowFalls says:

    What if the coupons are not stolen but instead are actually being sold by Starbucks themselves? So not only do they get money up front, they get your business later too.

    Sounds like a plan to me.

  44. namenomore says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: Yeah I’m totally confused that everyone is just running with that. If the conspiracy theories want to go on about the company selling these, that’s fine. The company owns the coupons and may do as they please. But I’ve seen even Regional “higher-ups” step in and put an end to this. Granted they don’t step in every time, but that doesn’t imply that the company is cool with getting their stuff stolen…

  45. namenomore says:

    *this = manager’s or baristas taking the coupons themselves and selling them on ebay or giving them to friends.

  46. namenomore says:

    what the fuck?! *managers*

  47. scoopy says:

    Lamest. Question. Ever. Oh, and suggesting that Starbucks is selling them themselves on eBay? Lame too. Companies with thousands of stores that do quite well don’t need an eBay coupon scheme trickle as a revenue stream. Clearly this is a case of Joe Barista stealing and selling to unscrupulous people who think it’s clever to buy stolen goods to save a few bucks on coffee. These are the same types that buy slugs for the subway.

    In many ways, the people that buy the illegal goods are so much lamer than the actual thieves themselves.

  48. UpsetPanda says:

    @nonzenze: I don’t think the suits are saying OK, I think they’re under-reacting. They are probably not going to over-react to something that can’t necessarily stop since they can’t prove the coupons on ebay were stolen. I’m sure they’re working internally to solve this problem but until then, they seem to be keeping mum. They can’t just say, “this is wrong” and people will magically realize the error of their way and stop bidding.

  49. johnva says:

    @EvilConservative: Philosophically, morality IS subjective. Different people, religions, and cultures have different ideas about what is and is not moral, and there is no way to prove who is “right” or if anyone even is “right”. Some “moral” values, like the idea that we shouldn’t murder each other, are pretty widely held within humanity. But even there there is widespread disagreement about what constitutes murder and what doesn’t. For example, is abortion murder? Is negligently killing innocent civilians through aerial bombing during a war murder? Is killing someone who dishonored or harmed your family murder? There is no clear-cut consensus on these questions.

    However, you can make an argument about ethical consistency here. If you wouldn’t think it’s moral to steal in one context you probably shouldn’t think it’s moral to steal in another if you believe in a consistent system of morality. Just recognize that your moral values may not be universal.

  50. Vicky says:

    Buying them is more of a moral issue than using them, imho.

  51. PDX909 says:

    650% -750% markup on a cup of coffee is morally wrong. Screw Starbucks.

  52. DallasDMD says:

    @UpsetPanda: So they’ll send you a $20 gift certificate for you troubles!? Okay. Makes sense.

  53. Mr. Gunn says:

    What they’re against is the employees stealing things, but I’ll bet they’ve written off the ones that are already out there, unless someone pisses an employee off enough to make them want to report it(like unloading a van full of kids with coupons on a regular basis).

  54. smitty1123 says:

    @Balisong: My local coffee house’s coffee tastes like shit and is more expensive. Really. I grew up on a ranch and have tasted shit. It’s not good.

  55. scoopy says:

    @PDX909: This comment always comes up during a discussion about stealing. The logic is as ridiculous as it is absurd. You can’t just steal things because you don’t like the markup. Do you steal your gas? your car? house? diapers? M&M’s brand candies?

  56. savvy999 says:

    After reading the article and this entire thread, I still can’t understand how ‘stolen’ applies to any part of this. If I broke into the Starbucks’ back room and took a pad of coupons that didn’t belong to me, that would be ‘stealing’. If I’m an employee or my manager and Starbucks Corps gives me a 100 coupons to do whatever I please with, and I use them, or smoke them, or eBay them, that’s not stealing. It may be violating a terms-of-use agreement maybe, but that’s not stealing, or ‘immoral’.

    Breaking mini-contracts on the back of a coupon is a far cry from larceny.

  57. PDX909 says:

    @eslaydog: I’m not advocating stealing, but I am saying I have no sympathy for a company that has been fleecing its customers from day one.

  58. Alexander says:

    @onetakedizzle: It’s just paper coupons. I know guys who work at AT&T Wireless who have thousands of dollars worth of new phones on their trunk. I always ask them how the hell does AT&T NOT notice 6 $500 phones missing. He just says “there are ways”. So there you have it….there are ways.

  59. IrisMR says:

    A lot of things that are morally wrong are still a good snicker.

  60. Alexander says:

    @PDX909: Is it really fleecing if the customer makes line for 10 minutes to willfully buy the product?

  61. ThomFabian says:

    Thats the thing though, Starbucks doesn’t just hand them 100 coupons and say “do whatever you want with these”. (Unless I am mistaken, and if I am then my point does fall apart.)

    Starbucks has these coupons on hand for rewards or offers to disgruntled customers, or any other of a hundred business cases where a free cup of coffee could help. The employee that takes them and sells them is stealing from his employer in the same manner as they would be if they simply decided to take product from behind the counter and sell it on their own. The coupon is property of the store/company and is to be used for the purposes set forth by the store/company.

  62. KogeLiz says:

    I think the person selling free coupons is probably the one that is more “morally wrong”

  63. SacraBos says:

    Asusming the coupons are legitimate (not forged), exactly how do you STEAL a FREE coupon? I mean, would that mean selling a “Free – Take on” would be selling stolen goods?

  64. sibertater says:

    @Applekid: You’re wrong. There are studies on “The Starbucks Effect.” It actually increases profits of other coffee shops in the same vicinity. Starbucks actually encourages other coffee shops. If they didn’t have a product that people appreciated and loved, they wouldn’t be in business.

    I love all these “do-gooders” who support the mom and pops places that don’t contribute to the community in any fashion. If you say that they provide needed jobs, so does Starbucks, while funding education, caring for it’s partners retirement and their health while working at SBUX. I would be willing to bet that any SBUX partner has better insurance than you.

    While not EVERY coffee that SBUX sells is Fair Trade, all of their coffees are produced under C.A.F.E. Practices.

    It seems that nothing in this country is easy to achieve, health status, education financial security, however many Americans seem to feel that they are entitled to these things…any company willing to support their employees in those endeavors has my vote over a mom and pops, any day.

    Sidebar: I’m a registered democrat and I support any organization that supports itself. I am a 35 year old full-time college student supporting himself. I have a soft spot for Starbucks and I enjoy their product.

  65. acutusnothus says:

    Since when are Uh’merkin consumers concerned with morality?

  66. backbroken says:

    I’m guessing Starbucks doesn’t care too much because they are still making a 90% profit on you rather than the typical 200% profit.

    Yes, I think they are probably the ones selling the coupons on eBay.

  67. Amelie says:

    @forgottenpassword: The only reason I can think, relates to “doubling of coupons.” Perhaps Lipton forgot to put the “no doubling” on the small print.

    By putting a line thru the upc, the clerk would have to ring it manually instead of automatically doubling it. Most in-store coupons have small print that forbids doubling – otherwise stores who double wouldn’t want salesman putting promotional pads in the aisles.

  68. bdslack says:

    Personally I think if it is something I wouldn’t want my kids doing then it is “wrong”. Whatever happened to the Mayberry type of community common sense that we used to have?

    Who the hell even questions stuff like this?

    Here’s the screw job:

    1.By allowing this crap you are just driving your own prices upwards
    2.You are going to end the policy of making up for errors and mistakes with free addictive drinks. And the only two people that win are the thief and his customer
    3.You are financially rewarding the high school kid’s idea that stealing and great (here comes another Enron!)
    4.You encourage the E-bay underbelly of stolen goods
    5.You lower the share price of Starbucks of that many of you already own through mutual funds in your 401K
    6.You lower the chance of workers at these companies to get and keep health care and other things that they want and need
    7.You look like a schmuck as you use coupon after coupon

  69. Steel_Pelican says:

    If you have to ask “Is this morally wrong?” Then it probably is.

  70. 00exmachina says:

    Morally right or wrong depends on the specific person. Ethically no it’s not because ethics are determined by society.
    Legally, no it’s illegal to receive stolen goods.

    But whether or not it’s moral depends on the persons take who is buying the coupons. Though if you have to ask my guess would be you feel less then ok about it, since you’re asking for confirmation that it’s all right form an external source.

    So you all ready feel it’s not moral but you want to blow off the little voice or feeling that’s taking in a dump in you at least in parts of your mind ill gotten beverage.

  71. Joafu says:

    Morally, coffee beans cause global warming, so Starbucks is wrong.

  72. econobiker says:


    Ethical (business)

    They all mean something different.

    It could be that the coupons are going to expire and the employee is given bunches of them. I had a relative in telcom who used to get bunches of phone cards. These cards had been made for use in co-marketing deals which had already been completed or the event date passed yet the cards had not expired ( say some sort of sports event on a certain date). So this relative would pass along phone cards that we only had one maybe two months to use up. Free cards to us since that company had not used them up for the marketing purpose. We thought that it wasn’t theft since the telcom company would have lost out anyway on the already purchased card time if the cards had been destroyed…

  73. arcticJKL says:

    Morality is not subjective.
    Yes it is immoral.

    That said the question becomes; is it stealing if sanctioned by the company? and Did they sanction it?

    It appears from the article that they are less than concern with the writers use of the coupons than the actual theft. Since they are investigating I doubt they are sanctioning the action.

    So the question remains, is it stealing if it is sanctioned?

  74. mac-phisto says:

    i’m gonna take it one step further. what if you use the coupons to give the homeless guy on the corner a free coffee every morning? still morally wrong?

    call me a moral relativist (or whatever), i tend to think the world is a tiny bit black, a tiny bit white & A WHOOOOOOLE LOTTA grey.

    perfect example for the new yorkers in the crowd: do you give away “free train rides” on the last day of the month when your monthly pass is due to expire? a lot of commuters do & they probably think they’re doing a good deed. in reality, they’re stealing too. still, isn’t it nice to get a free “woah! thanks! you’re awesome!” to end your month?

  75. UpsetPanda says:

    @mac-phisto: Yes, it’s still wrong. You might be helping someone else, but you’re using stolen property to do it, which doesn’t make it a good deed just because someone benefited. It’s like retail workers who use their discount to get their friends discounts. You’re helping someone take money from a business. It doesn’t change whether it is a chain or a mom and pop.

  76. gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

    @Steel_Pelican: well said

  77. shortsboy7 says:

    As a Store Manager, I can assure you that Starbucks does not give these out in large quantities. Employees are never “given” the coupons. The coupons are to be handed out when just saying sorry won’t do.

    The coupons are never the property of the employees and taking them for personal use is stealing company property. I have seen multiple people fired for stealing these coupons.

    For anyone to have these in large quantities, they had to have either stolen them or obtained them from a source that did steal them.

  78. lpranal says:

    Whenever I’m in NYC I end up getting free starbucks just by going to someplace busy. I’m not used to the whole “order from A, pay at B, pick up at C” scheme that the busier locations seem to use. Whenever i’ve mentioned it, i usually get motioned at by the flustered barista to just take it. So I do.

  79. shortsboy7 says:

    @mac-phisto: Seriously? Are you really suggesting that it is alright to steal something so that you can give it to the needy. Why wouldn’t you just buy the guy a cup of coffee instead of buying stolen coupons for that same cup of coffee.

    Well, I’m off to the grocery store to steal all the bread so that I can help the homeless.

  80. johnva says:

    @arcticJKL: It’s just your opinion that morality is not subjective (in practice or in fact?). And I doubt you can back that up with good reasoning. Fact is, it’s just an article of faith that objective moral truth exists.

  81. MercuryPDX says:

    @bdslack: It died – []

  82. MercuryPDX says:

    @mac-phisto: Gasp! The Robin Hood Defense! ;)

  83. dasunst3r says:

    I would personally not do it because I would pay the price of enjoying a Starbucks out of fairness; but then again, I don’t drink coffee all that often.

  84. chiieddy says:

    Come on. You’re telling me that purchasing stolen goods online is actually an ethical question for you?

  85. tvh2k says:

    How many of us just realized that you could do this and searched for ‘starbucks coupons’ on ebay?

  86. trollkiller says:

    Starbucks told him not to worry about using the coupons because they did not want him coming here and posting “I tried to use a coupon and Starbucks treated me like a thief”.

  87. Phantom_Photon says:

    Yes, it is morally wrong.

  88. RenardRouge says:


  89. RenardRouge says:


  90. SOhp101 says:

    It’s illegal to accept stolen goods, whether you do it knowingly or not, and it’s definitely immoral.

  91. dantsea says:

    I have talked to the company officers about this, and they don’t seem to really care

    THE COMPANY OFFICERS! Did you hear that everyone, he talked to THE COMPANY OFFICERS! My, that sounds important and official and everything. Just exactly the sort of thing you’d say to pre-emptively claim higher ground.

    The tipster says that when he contacted Starbucks to ask if this was evil behavior on his part, they just thanked him for being a loyal Starbucks customer and sent a $20.00 gift certificate for his trouble.

    Oh, please. Your tipster’s pants are on fire.

  92. R3PUBLIC0N says:

    Just so we’re clear, the crime being committed by whoever takes the coupons is embezzlement, which is converting an employer’s resources to your own benefit without the approval of the employer.

  93. Chad Cloman says:

    This is similar to the reason Subway quit offering their stamps for free sandwiches. Employees were stealing entire rolls and selling them on eBay.

  94. swalve says:

    @Jasmo: Bingo. Starbucks is being nice and knows if they can make the supply of stolen coupons dry up, people will actually buy the coffee. I can’t believe the “tipster” was acting proud about this childish, cheap, immoral behavior.

    Slightly cynical thought: Starbucks is putting their own coupons on eBay. Creeps will think they’re getting a deal, Starbucks cuts the bottom out of their thieves and gets customers.

  95. RumorsDaily says:

    I used to buy Subway stickers on ebay… though in my defense I don’t really know that they were stolen. They weren’t in such large bulk that they would have had to have been stolen, someone could have actually earned them.

  96. guevera says:

    If one believes that the entire system of american capitalism is wrong, evil, and corrupt, then it is not just morally permissible to use stolen coupons to get over on a massive public company, one could argue that you have a moral obligation to do so.

    I don’t think one would actually have a moral obligation in this case. But that’s only because the company still likely profits on your purchase because the marginal cost of producing another latte is so low compared with the revenue gained by an extra shot, a scone, etc. It’s definitely not because you’re stealing from one of the massive capitalist behemoths that run this country.

    @BDSLACK: I would want my kids to do everything they can to strike back at the corporate oligarchs who are oppressing them. I just hope they would do more than this petty scam. Of course, I don’t have kids, and my dog’s not much of a revolutionary

  97. mac-phisto says:

    @mercurypdx: i’m glad someone caught it. incidentally, i’ve been watching the disney version all week (picked it up at kmart over the weekend for ~$12). best. movie. ever.

    @shortsboy7: “Well, I’m off to the grocery store to steal all the bread so that I can help the homeless.”

    just stay away from toulan. i hear you get 5-19 years for that.

  98. lovelygirl says:

    How could stealing be acceptable in any culture? Of course it’s morally wrong! Just because the company is nonchalant about it doesn’t mean that its the right thing to do.

  99. bwd1971 says:

    Screw the Robin Hood Defense. If they bust you with these “stolen” coupons, just go for the Chewbacca Defense!!!!!

  100. puka_pai says:

    @forgottenpassword: re: the Lipton coupons

    The UPC on the coupons carries a variety of information and there may have been a misprint. Say, it was supposed to take off a buck and it took off two — or worse yet, 50 cents. If you think the cashiers won’t get the message then you make it so they have to manually enter the coupon amount.

    I’m a former grocery store pricing coordinator and this happened a couple of times in my stores.

  101. riverstyxxx says:

    No, but it is morally wrong to support starbucks. Imagine, a drive thru service just for coffee. Yep, they’re doing it.

  102. Szin says:

    It’s only freaking coffee. Not even that good of coffee either, from what my coffee drinking friends tell me. Hell, they can’t even make a decent cup of hot chocolate without the addition of peppermint to it.

    But they don’t seem to have a problem with it, so I’d keep doing it. They apparently sent this guy a gift cert. and THANKED him for being such a loyal customer. That’s what I call customer satisfaction!

    Perhaps it’s just from my experience in Retail work, but I don’t even have a problem with the person stealing these coupons from Starbucks. While working at Hollywood Video many moons ago, I came up with my own personal philosophy about stealing from work, which I did on a daily basis. Not straight cash, mind you, but just Buncha Crunch and bottles of Pepsi that we were suppose to pay for. Why do people steal things like this? Because they’re not paid enough not too! Most of the time, the managers aren’t paid enough to even care.

    How could stealing be accepted in any culture? Because people have been doing it for a LONG time. If you try a grape at the grocery store to see if it’s good, that’s considered stealing. I mean, what’s more morally wrong here? Someone downloading 24 songs of the net, or the RIAA making this woman pay $224,000 in damages for it?

  103. trollkiller says:

    @Szin: It is amazing how a thief can justify their actions. Face it you are just a common criminal that does not have the balls to go into bigger things.

  104. cde says:

    @SOhp101: Only if it is reasonable (As found by a court of law and your peers) for a person to think the property is stolen. If you by a gameboy brand new in the box for 25 dollars less then retail, it is not reasonable to believe it to be stolen. If you buy a MacBook Air nib for 100 dollars, then there is reason to believe it is stolen (92% discount).

  105. gamehendge2000 says:


    I told my parents that a philosophy degree would come in handy one day… too bad it’s not today.

    There are two branches of ethical philosophy: ethics and meta-ethics.

    Ethics focuses on right vs. wrong (morality) – is it wrong to use stolen drink coupons.

    Meta-ethics focuses on the investigation of whether there is such a thing as right and wrong, and in fact whether any action can be judged as being objectively moral/immoral.

    There have been people wiser than us all who have come down on both sides of this argument – so I’m not expecting it to be solved here.

    In short, if I remember correctly, the prevailing opinion is that there is such a thing as an objective truth with respect to meta-ethics, but no one will ever be able to determine what it is.

  106. floydianslip6 says:

    Everyone is so hung up on the it’s stolen it’s wrong!!!! Thats speculation, we don’t know for a fact the coupons are being stolen at all. So hope off your moral high horses and hop aboard the facts train

  107. ThomFabian says:

    Did you miss the headline? The headline asks a simple question of whether its wrong to buy STOLEN coupons.

    That is the question being asked (and answered) here.

  108. ThomFabian says:

    Justify it all you’d like , but what you have done is theft. You took something that didn’t belong to you.

    “They didn’t pay us enough” is hardly cause for deciding to take what is not yours. And out of curiosity why wouldn’t you take “straight cash” from them? How is that any different from taking their property?

  109. floydianslip6 says:

    @ThomFabian: It’s good to know this centuries old moral debate can be recycled with consumer branding and answered right here.

    Heh, that may be what the headline says, but the facts of the article say different. Besides, neither side thinks they’re actually GETTING anywhere do they??

  110. Buran says:

    @Abusiveelusive: And illegal too. Possession of stolen property is a crime. If you don’t know it you usually don’t get in trouble, but you do have to give it up. Knowingly seeking it out can get you thrown in jail.

  111. ThomFabian says:

    I’m sure no one will be convinced either way… however lets not pretend the author doesn’t think they are stolen… he says so right in his letter to Consumerist : “I know that the people I buy them from are stealing them from the store and then selling them on eBay”

  112. arcticJKL says:


    I have to admit that its been a while since I argued the relativism vs absolute position and I certainly cant post something here to explain everything.

    But since this is the web Ill just call you a nazi and tell you your wrong. (humor there in case you missed it)

  113. floydianslip6 says:

    @ThomFabian: Well true enough, but it seems more like he’s just guessing at it. Who knows where shit on eBay comes from?

  114. Anonymous says:


    Starbucks is actually GOOD for small Coffee shops []

    In short, Starbucks gets people who ‘aren’t coffee drinkers’ hooked, but they hate the long lines, and hey, whats this small place right here?

    The story I heard the radio was a small business owner who thought they would go under when Starbucks opened next door. Since then they have tried to expand as near to other Starbucks as they can.

  115. riverstyxxx says:


    People sell what people buy. If there’s a dollar to be made, the chances are that someone is going to try to make it. At one time, someone sold a “Pet Rock” and it was just a rock. He made millions off of it too. Sad eh?

  116. shortsboy7 says:

    Also, The summary doesn’t quite convey what Starbucks told him. The Starbucks Employee in the Asset Protection department thanked him for informing her of the situation and assured that they were going to investigate further.

    If Starbucks had no problem with the coupons disappearing, there would be no need for any investigation.

  117. Szin says:

    @ThomFabian: LoL, because when you steal cash, it shows up during the nightly deposit. They tend not to notice a simple box of Nestle’s Buncha Crunch, nor do they really care even when I’m clearly on camera doing it. I think I even waved at it a couple of times. Oh sure, it’ll show up on “Inventory” night as missing, but after you’ve just scanned about 36,000 DVD’s until 3-5 AM, the managers just tend not to care.

    @trollkiller: Too true, too true. Maybe one day, I’ll up my thieving ways to a box of Oreo’s from Costco.

    @riverstyxxx: Yeah, the Pet Rock always brings both a smile and tear to my face. All it takes is an idea! You know…..I had an idea once. It was a Jump…To Conclusions Mat!

  118. ThomFabian says:

    So its only different in that you won’t get caught?

  119. Me. says:

    I was a barista and we had a customer who used one of these coupons every day (so he had obviously bought a book of them). That wasn’t the problem: the problem is that he got a free drink EVERY SINGLE DAY and not once did he tip us.

    Folks, if you don’t want baristas to rat you out, throw them a couple bucks every once in a while!

  120. swagv says:

    If you have to ask, it’s immoral.