Starbucks Won't Give Me Free Refill Because I Stepped Out Onto Patio

Dustin really needed his caffeine fix and was hoping to get a free refill after he ordered his coffee at Starbucks and gulped it down at the adjoining patio. When he stepped back inside, the manager turned down his refill request, saying his second entrance into the store counted as another visit and left him ineligible for a free-fill.

He writes:

Today I went to a Starbucks that I’ve been to before but is not my regular Starbucks. At 8:40am, I ordered my coffee, got a receipt, looked around for a seat, found none, and stepped outside. I drank my coffee while I made a couple calls, went back inside and got in line to get my refill at 9 a.m. The manager said that the refill policy is for in-store refills only. I told her I was on the patio and offered to show her my receipt which said 8:40 a.m. I’m sure they get people trying to get a refill from hours ago or days ago, so I have no problem showing her my receipt. She didn’t need to see my receipt but said that since I went outside, I wasn’t entitled to get a refill. She says the policy is the same at all Starbucks.

Of course, I know this isn’t true because I do this twice a day, like I said before. I rarely stay inside the store as I prefer to make my calls outside. I called Starbucks Customer Service from inside the store and explained the situation. The rep checked with a senior rep for a few minutes and then offered to call the store to find out why I didn’t get a refill. The store manager said that I went outside and that it’s her policy to not offer refills to people that go outside. She also said her store doesn’t have a patio. It just so happens that this store is next to a Borders under construction so that have temporarily removed the chairs, but it is still a patio. You can see the umbrella stands in front of the store on the attached picture. Even so, I never left the front of the store.

The rep came back on the line with me and said that there is nothing he can do. The store manager can have her own personal refill policy for her store. I am really confused now because I thought the purpose a a published refill policy was to standardize across all stores. The policy is “You must use your registered Starbucks Card to purchase a hot or iced brewed coffee or tea and then present that same card for the refill during the same visit. Offer valid at participating U.S. stores and is subject to change.”

I asked, “Since each store can set their own policy, I need to ask when I order my coffee what their store’s policy is about refills?” He said that would be a good idea.

He took my address and phone and said the District Manager would call me but I haven’t received a call yet.

Starbucks addicts, what sort of recon do you do to ensure you’ll be eligible for a free refill? And if denied, would you spring for another cup or fight to the bitter end like Dustin?