What Complaining About Starbucks Hath Wrought: Punch Cards?

<!–starbucksideaa.jpg–>We decided to check back in with Starbucks’ social “idea” site to see what ideas they were thinking of implementing.

Here are the elite few that appear to be winners, although only free wifi has been confirmed:

  • Under Review: Offer customers a free drink, after purchasing a set number of drinks. Similar to a punch card system or by tracking it thru their Starbucks Card. 
  • Free WiFi: Coming in the Spring.
  • Under Review: “The difference between Venti and Grande should not just be MILK. I never understand why extra milk is the only difference between Vanti and grande drinks. It is expected that there should be an extra shot!!!!!! Most of people don’t even know this “secret”.”
  • Under Review: Healthier high protein breakfast.
  • Under Review: Stickers to cover lid openings




Edit Your Comment

  1. dookas says:

    Under Review: Stickers to cover lid openings???

    What the hell does that even mean? How much packaging does a cup of coffee need?

    a cardboard cozy, sometimes a double cup for americanos, a plastic cover, and straws for lipstick wearers, and now you want stickers?…give me a fucking break.

  2. scarysnow says:

    If I buy a coffee in a Starbucks container at certain places (like a grocery store) I’ll often get coffee for 50 cents. It’s meant to keep me shopping and slowly put crap in the cart, but I just leave. Now that’s not a bad idea (for me).

  3. kublaconsumer says:

    What does this mean?
    “Stickers to cover lid openings”

  4. wesa says:

    @kublaconsumer: It is for people who can’t carry their coffee without fumbling, getting hot coffee all over themselves.

  5. investigator says:

    @kublaconsumer: SB already has something like this. They’re green things that look like stirrers, but if you stick it in the mouth opening it will keep the coffee from spilling out.

  6. ech-o74 says:

    @wesa: It’s not necessarily fumbling… every time I put a cup of coffee from Starbucks in my cup holder the moment I turn the corner half the cup has splashed out.

  7. nequam says:

    @investigator: You can also request flat lids, whcih are closed until you remove the tab.

  8. bohemian says:

    How about just one food offering that doesn’t contain wheat?
    At least the Starbucks at Barnes & Noble has rice krispy bars in the case. All the stand alone stores only have regular baked goods.

  9. Machete_Bear says:

    (x) Lower prices, proportional to the quality of your burnt swill.

  10. ohgoodness says:

    How about stop burning your coffee?

  11. LVP says:

    @Meg Marco: Under Review: “The difference between Venti and Grande should not just be MILK. I never understand why extra milk is the only difference between Vanti and grande drinks. It is expected that there should be an extra shot!!!!!! Most of people don’t even know this “secret”.”

    The few times I go to Starbucks I get a Grande in a Venti cup and add the milk myself at the milk bar. Saves money.

    30 cents for an extra inch of milk is a rip off.

  12. Shaggy says:

    @ohgoodness: Amen!

  13. gmss0205 says:

    How about not charging $4 for a cup of coffee that you can get for $1 across the street at McDonald’s?

  14. zentex says:

    venti? grande? why can’t they just call it S/M/L/XL? which brings me to that Dunkin Doughnuts commercial…classic.

  15. Me - now with more humidity says:

    How about teaching your damn baristas not to hold my cup by the lid with their nasty thumb dirtying up the side of the lid at the sipping opening?

  16. LorneReams says:


    Which coffee is this? Last time I went, SB had a coffee for 2.05$, MCDonalds charged 1.95 and DD charged $2.10 (for large).

  17. Sherryness says:

    They already have stickers to cover the lid openings at stores in the Seattle area. Unless I am confused and am thinking of Tully’s. At any rate, I never liked it when they did that. The sticker sticks to their finger, and then they pull it off (along with their skin fleckings and germs) and put it where you’re going to be putting your lips. Not the best idea, imho.

  18. Sherryness says:

    @Me: Word. Sometimes I think they do this deliberately.

  19. BugMeNot2 says:

    @wesa: Sadly enough, I carry tape with me in my car to cover the opening. I always get my lattes with “no foam” and they tend to spill all over my car every time I hit a bump if I don’t.

    It is too hot for me to sip enough where it won’t spill, and I ask for no foam because I want the cup to be full for what I pay for it. Otherwise my cup is more foam than latte.

    If I ask for a sticker here, they give me what they tear off of the coffee bags. Ew. No flat lids either.

  20. sketchy says:

    @Sherryness: It’s likely that the finger of a wage slave is much cleaner than your noise hole.

  21. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

    @BugMeNot2: I’ve never heard of using a sticker to cover the opening, but out here they have lids for coffee at other places (like gas stations) where there is a little plastic “plug” that can be pulled back (and sticks into a recessed knob on the top) and then stuck back down to replug the coffee so it doesn’t spill. I’m sure Starbucks could adapt something like this with no problem.

  22. aspie32 says:
  23. brennie says:

    @sketchy: thanks for making me laugh out loud. What a bunch of lazy crybabies. Just make your own coffee folks.

  24. KJones says:

    It’s no surprise to see that Drawback’s “listening” was just a pretext for doing what they wanted to do anyway. Maybe one person in a thousand “suggested” this (or it was a Drawback executive using a sockpuppet account), but this is the one they go for.

    The suggestions which I saw appear the most often on their site – get the service right and get the product right – is the last thing they want to do.

    Feel free to use this new term of derision for them: Drawbacks, because that’s what buying from them is.

  25. fluiddruid says:

    Seriously? I feel ripped off by the venti (not that I go often, but still, jeez). Screw off, Starbucks.

  26. thegingerman says:

    If you haven’t tried this already, I highly recommend secretly placing clear tape over the opening of a friend’s coffee lid. Maybe while they’re in the bathroom, or something like that.

  27. thegingerman says:

    Oh, and by the way, the difference between Small and Tall is also just milk … lame.

  28. WannaBblonde says:

    @sketchy: That doesn’t mean I want to suck down someone’s finger dredge with my coffee. If a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s, it would follow that it is also cleaner than the barista’s hands; but I wouldn’t drink after my dog slobbered all over the lid of my cup – would you? Theory would follow that the cup would actually be cleaner after the dog slobbered on it. Hmmm, there’s an idea…

  29. TheRealAbsurdist says:

    @Sherryness and Me: You ARE kidding, right? Or are you a couple of those who carry hand sanitizer in your purse and use it compulsively? God help your immune system.

  30. elephantattack says:

    oh look… Free WIFI is coming for sure :) Well now I only have to go up the road a little to get wifi outside my APT… happy me!

  31. jimconsumer says:

    Is that Venti/Grande milk thing true? I didn’t know that. I feel cheated. I always went for a Venti when I wanted a hard core wake up drink… Didn’t realize I could get the same damn thing in a Grande. What a rip off.

  32. Sherryness says:

    @TheRealAbsurdist: I get plenty of germs from my 5 year old boy. I don’t need any extra from the coffee lady.

  33. BrockBrockman says:

    I’m guessing this milk-differential that you speak of applies to things like lattes and macchiatos – I don’t really buy too many of those at the local SBs, but it makes sense that a tall vs. grande latte each only have 1 shot of espresso, and the rest just steamed milk. Lame. I bet this is the same for Americanos.

    An alternate to the sticker (not that anybody asked) is to order your drink in a cup size larger – this means the coffee will not be poured up to the rim of the cup and therefore more likely to slosh onto your clothes. I.e. “Grande X in a Venti cup.” This doesn’t work for Ventis, though, until they make a Super Big Gulp equivalent cup size.

    Oh yeah, and if you really want quality coffee, make it at home and don’t bitch about SB to those of us that love burnt up funny tasting over-priced coffee.

    On a side note, what is up with the whole “McDonalds coffee tastes better” thing? Their coffee is sometimes good, sometimes all watered down, so inconsistent at best. At least SB is consistently burnt. And for crissakes – McDonald’s coffee comes from McDonalds. McDonalds! You stand in line at McDonalds for coffee because it tastes better? Or is it to make a point about Starbucks? And talk about overpriced coffee – they charge almost the same amount as SB for a cup of coffee. But I guess that balances out if you don’t want to feel pressure to leave a tip (although we tend to easily ignore any pressure to donate to the Ronald McDonald house).

  34. huginn says:

    Free wifi is long past due. Panera got this right from the start. People don’t want to go through the t-mobile bull for 10 minutes on the net before work.

  35. nequam says:

    A couple of comments complain about milk being the only difference among the various sizes. Lest people be confused, these commenters are not talking about plain old coffee — they’re talking about espresso-based drinks like lattes. And as noted above, SB does nto charge $4+ for coffees. At my local store, a grande (medium) is the same price as a Dunkin Donuts medium — $1.94.

    @zentex: Fritalian!

  36. Truthie says:

    Cosi has had a free drink program for years, and last year they moved it from a stamp card to an electronic (keychaiin) card. Very nice.

  37. ZekeSulastin says:

    @brennie: Wow, it took 21 comments for the standard “Make your own, otherwise quit whining!” comment to rear its ugly head! I’m surprised; when dealing with a restaurant, it’s usually in the first 5!

    The actual winning ideas are somewhat underwhelming, to be honest. Punch cards and free Wi-fi have little to do with the coffee, which should be the main concern of any such place ….

  38. KJones says:

    @BrockBrockman: On a side note, what is up with the whole “McDonalds coffee tastes better” thing? Their coffee is sometimes good, sometimes all watered down, so inconsistent at best. At least SB is consistently burnt. And for crissakes – McDonald’s coffee comes from McDonalds. McDonalds! You stand in line at McDonalds for coffee because it tastes better? Or is it to make a point about Starbucks? And talk about overpriced coffee – they charge almost the same amount as SB for a cup of coffee. But I guess that balances out if you don’t want to feel pressure to leave a tip (although we tend to easily ignore any pressure to donate to the Ronald McDonald house).

    Yes, McRottens’ coffee is shit. But at least they get my order right, which is more than can be said for Drawbacks. If I want good coffee, I make it at home.

    And McRottens’ price is about 2/3rds of Drawback’s for the same size.

  39. nequam says:

    @KJones: Actually, McD’s coffee appears to be no more than 10% cheaper than SBs.

  40. rjhiggins says:

    @Machete_Bear: Yes, the knee-jerk “burnt coffee” response comes in at #7. We have a winner!

  41. rjhiggins says:

    @KJones: Drawbacks? Is that supposed to be clever?

    And could we please stop comparing the cost of a whipped no-foam vanilla soy concoction with a cup of plain coffee at McDonald’s? Apples to apples, for a plain cup of coffee, the prices are comparable. If you prefer the taste of one or the other, fine. But at least let’s have honest comparisons.

  42. In defense of the thousands of baristas suing to get tips or whatever, if you’re in line for your beloved drip coffee and see a little red light blinking on the machine, yes your coffee is burnt and/or cold. Just tell/yell at someone to remake it – its an oft overlooked, mostly accidental thing at 250+ customers per hour. Or, your particular store hasn’t been cleaning the machines properly at closing.

    Aw, f**k it, I quit that company long ago. My bet is that NONE of these wishful thinking pipe dreams will be implemented.

  43. pal003 says:

    I like my Starbucks coffee, especially their iced coffee – anywhere else tastes too watered-down. And free Wi-Fi will be excellent.

    And Starbucks gets major kudos for offering a decent wage and health insurance benefits to part-time employees. So I’m happier to spend my dollars there.

  44. ManPurse says:

    @zentex: Stop with this complaint already. It’s tired. We’ve been over it and over it and over it. It’s been beated to death. Just don’t go to Starbucks for Chrissakes.

    Here’s an obvious alert for people – they’re not changing their sizing names… Let’s bitch about something constructive.

  45. drjayphd says:

    @nequam: So, then, what’s Dieci?

    @wesa: It might also help if Starbucks’s cups weren’t precisely engineered for maximum spillage. Haven’t had this much trouble with Dunkin’ Donuts or Greenwich Coffee (smaller chain in the area) coffee… although Greenwich Coffee provides lid stickers, too, so they’re generally good there. Now if only they could get the hang of this “paying your rent” thing…

  46. ManPurse says:

    @ManPurse: That is .. “beaten”

  47. drjayphd says:

    @ManPurse: Somebody didn’t get the memo that “WHY CAN’T STARBUCKS USE NORMAL SIZES?!” is the new “CHARGEBACKS!” and “CREDIT UNIONS!” in one neatly-wrapped bundle of joy. ;)

  48. pinksquirrel says:

    Lid Opening Stickers:
    I’ve seen these for a while now at Starbucks (pre-dating the december holidays, at least). Some places stick them for you, others hand you a ripped off sticker from a roll. Well, actually, thinking about it – I’m not sure if the first place stuck it on there for me or not. I forget.

  49. misssgolightly says:

    @pal003: No, they don’t. They say they offer decent benefits, but you need a minimum number of hours. Then they overstaff and give people 15 hours a week so they can get out of paying for benefits.

  50. morganlh85 says:

    @investigator: @nequam: I’ve never seen either such thing…must be at only select stores (or perhaps someone screwed up an order and happened to end up with these things at their location).

  51. morganlh85 says:

    @misssgolightly: I know, making you work 20 whole hours a week, they’re regular benefit Nazis aren’t they? Jeez.

  52. Me - now with more humidity says:

    Sherryness: Exactly!

    (6 year old here)

  53. misssgolightly says:

    @morganlh85: Working the 20 hours a week wasn’t the problem, actually. Everyone was desperate to get twenty hours. But they didn’t want to cough up the $$ to pay the benefits, so they kept hours down by overstaffing. Jeez.

  54. scarletvirtue says:

    @KJones: “Feel free to use this new term of derision: Drawbacks“?

    Yes, because blatantly putting out there like that really makes it catch on.

    I just call it “Harbucks” (thanks, “South Park”), thankyouverymuch.

  55. humphrmi says:

    @Sherryness: You can complain about the barista’s skin fleckings or whatever you want, I won’t get involved in that whole conversation. But just an FYI, your five-year-old’s germs passed on to you are probably killing anything you catch off a coffee cup. It’s a pretty well-known fact that most young kids build stronger immune systems with the crazy germs they pick up, and they also make their immediate family more immune too.

  56. seanblood says:

    Starbucks barista here, lets get some things squared away:

    @bohemian: Actually, corporate stores (or normal stores also have rice krispies bars. (at least usually) pastries change according to region, but for the most part most stores have rice krispies bars, they may just not have them out when you are there.

    @jimconsumer: And the difference isnt just the milk. Its also in the syrups in such. its true that grandes and ventis get the same amount of shots (2) but this isnt a secret, or even hard to figure out. If there was another shot added into ventis you would be getting more bang for your buck, but it would completely change the way the drink tastes.

    @misssgolightly: This is just plain false, at least for most of the stores ive seen. My current store manager was at one time the manager of the busiest starbucks in the world (at the time it was in New York City, not sure if that is still busiest) and she said it wasnt a problem to give everyone the minimum amount of hours to get health benefits and etc. I also know for a fact no one in my district has ever dipped below 20 hours a week unless by request.

    @zentex: There is no amount of people who are going to argue starbucks out of calling their sizes tall grande and venti. the key word here being STARBUCKS calling their sizes. Customers can call the sizes whatever they want. That is one of the things that bugs me as a starbucks barista a lot, customers getting angry about the sizes when we (the baristas) call drinks to each other. We are not correcting you. (Although to be fair i have seen some baristas correct people on the sizes, something explicitly explained in training that they shouldn’t do) Continue calling the drinks small medium and large, and if a barista tries to correct you tell them to bugger off.

  57. katylostherart says:

    @wesa: actually starbucks lids are crap. if i leave the tab out of a dunkin donuts coffee lid it doesn’t spill all over my car. if i don’t put a napkin over the starbucks container or a sticker, it spills everywhere. starbucks lids are poor engineering. even that fold back cheapo gas station lid tab has less spill in a car.

  58. katylostherart says:

    @seanblood: are you kidding? it’ a different in the syrups?

    one more pump. BIG DEAL. 3-4-5 and 1-2-2. how nice. so you get another half ounce of flavor, the same amount of coffee and 3-4 ounces more milk for another dollar. putting three shots in a venti basically makes the drink taste like it has coffee in it. if they wanted to be so specific about it, since the baristas aren’t actually brewing shots any more, they could probably add a function to the machines to make the ingredient amounts proportionate because just leaving out that extra shot while adding more of the cheaper ingredients does not maintain the flavor either.

  59. ManPurse says:

    @drjayphd: Chargebacks!

  60. misssgolightly says:

    @seanblood: Well, you obviously had a better manager than mine.

  61. Umisaurus says:

    Safeway used to have a nice stamp-like incentive at their stands, which was buy-five-get-one-free, IIRC. They ended that over a year ago, though, which also ended my short affair with Starbucks.

    Drive-thru coffee stands for the win!

  62. Shmonkmonk says:

    @defeatism: Thank you for your comment! Obviously, most of the people angry at Starbucks for their prices have never really been inside one. If they have, they would know that a small (tall) cup of coffee is only $1.73 (where I live).
    Honestly folks. If you don’t like the place, don’t shop there. It’s not like they have a monopoly on coffee.

  63. Me - now with more humidity says:

    Starbuck’s iced coffee is a joke. 50 cents more than hot coffee. Just order your hot coffee plus a cup of ice. The Baristas here all understand it.

  64. seanblood says:

    @misssgolightly: Yeah i lucked out big time. my manager is awesome.

    @katylostherart: without designing new machines it is impossible to change the amount the shots pull that much and still have them taste good. The only way to change the shots in that manner would be to recalibrate the machines (which we do every hour) which we have to do by hand, and still wont do what you are talking about. also, you can request as many pumps of syrup as you like there isnt an extra charge.
    And actually, you are right. A venti is not a horribly humongously bigger size. Which is why it does not take that much to maintain the recipe’s proportion. if your that keen on an extra shot either order one or get your drink iced, in which case a venti does get three shots, to maintain the integrity of the recipe along with the ‘cheaper’ ingredients

  65. bigleggedwoman says:

    I have been off of sbux for over a year and a half with no discernible side-effects… wait: don’t have nasty aftertaste from overroasted stale beans.

    Any way, don’t want to get negative. I look at sbux as a sister company to, say, Wal-Mart.

    And I don’t favor the non-union, non-free-trade vendors.



  66. bigleggedwoman says:

    @seanblood: I recommend that you get your ass out now.

  67. bigleggedwoman says:

    @misssgolightly: Exactly what I’ve read elsewhere — and why would they fib? So many young people don’t know the labor laws in their states or territories.

    Kids? Don’t do drugs and don’t get fooled by corporate bullshit.

  68. shukaide says:

    About McDonalds, don’t sell their premium coffee short… its quite good. And Consumer Reports rated it far higher than Starbucks in a blind taste test. I buy coffee from both places, whichever happens to be closer to where I am. So, I’m just throwing that out there.

  69. chartrule says:

    shame you guys don’t have Tim Horton’s down there

  70. chartrule says:

    sorry …. correction

    its a shame you don’t have Tim Horton’s down there

  71. u1itn0w2day says:

    It’s not just the menu selections or lack of promotions that is slowly eroding their business.It’s the exorbitant prices they charge.Sure,many find it worth it but once many realize how much they are spending on coffee and/or an ” experience ” many will never come back even in good times.

    Starbucks is just another example of a business that overbuilt and overcharged to the point where they saturated the market and drained their customers.I liken Starbucks to Crispy Creme in the late 90s-early 2k-they had a nice run but the COST eventually caught up.Everyone thinks it’s a health conscience minded consumer-that might be the excuse but it comes down to price.

    The good news is the Starbucks should always have a niche market-not as large but they will be there.And hopefully they will be able to keep paying their employees the way they do.

  72. Mary says:

    @Me: I was going to say that I would hope their thumbs are nasty and that they wash their hands regularly.

    But when I was a barista at a different cafe, everybody there that had previously worked at Starbucks were completely unable to comprehend how often they should wipe things down, clean things off, and generally keep sanitary. It’s one of the reasons I rarely go to Starbucks now. If their workers aren’t trained and able to wipe off the steam wand between drinks so you don’t get a layer of crusted milk on there, I’ll pass.

    Plus, their hot chocolate is terrible and I don’t drink coffee.

  73. u1itn0w2day says:

    As Meiran pointed out the prices they charge don’t truely reflect the service/product you’re actually recieving.If you’re going to tout yourself as something special you better deliver something special.The price makes the business fragile to begin with.The service and quality must match the price at all times.This is why many “loyal” leave and NEVER come back.

  74. wring says:

    i heard that in the Philippines around xmas time, there’s already a punch card system but instead of free coffee you get like this OMGSUPERAWESOME yearly planner. i haven’t seen said planner so i can’t say if it’s worth 30 venti americanos.

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

    @bohemian: one of my friends who works at Starbucks has an allergy to wheat, and often comments on the fact that the Rice Krispie bars are the only thing she can eat (not sure that ALL stores carry these bars, but most of the ones i go to do)

  76. At my Starbucks they basically comp me the extra shot in my venti lattes . . . I order a four shot but they charge me for three, since I got pissy after I switched from an iced latte (in the summer) to a hot latter (in the fall) and suddenly was paying an extra fifty cents. When I started ordering iced lattes with no ice and steamed milk, they got the hint.

  77. saury316 says:

    also, please don’t have the “Short” drink option as a secret.
    Starbucks actually does four sizes: Short, Tall, Grande Venti.
    Short and Tall have 1 shot (tall having more milk).
    Grande and Venti (as the article says) also have 2 shots.
    I beleive Carribou Coffee is the same, expect they actually have it listed (1 shot, 2 shot,2 shot).

  78. i think this entire thread needs to switch to tea. myself included.
    just saying.

  79. GF_AdventureGrl says:

    I totally second this idea! I’d love to go to a Starbucks and be able to find something wheat/gluten free.