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January 21, 2008


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Cheap, Cheap, Cheap, Cheap, Cheap, Cheap, Cheap, Cheap.......

Oh, the pretty birdies are flying.......


I used those coupons at my local Sbux for a few weeks and asked the manager about them and whether or not I should keep using them. She told me that I shouldn't use them and that other stores wouldn't accept them (not true). I heard from other people who worked there that she threw a fit about it and was mad that I used the coupons.

I talked to another person who worked there and she thought they were all fakes that someone printed up. I told her I got them off Ebay and figured someone stole them and put them online.


There was a time when Starbucks gave out service recovery coupons like they were going out of style. Anyway, I haven't seen one in a long time. I kind of figured they had stopped doing because of stuff like this.

i dont think it matters what the person you talked to that works for Starbucks. you know its morally wrong and you continue to do it? dissgusting. its people like you who perpetuate these thieves and not only that, you continue to make this world a terrible place with your actions.
you are probably the guy who when he gets gass fills up to $20.01 cuz you know they never really ask for the penny

I think if you woke up and realized how everyone is effected by you buying illegal coupons, you would stop


I once dealt with a customer who was regularly using coupons like the situation listed above.

One day when I told her her total, she handed be the backing of one of the booklets of service recovery coupons. The piece of paper at the end of the booklet where you can keep a log of how many are in the booklet (no one ever does this). I promptly handed it back to her saying, "This isn't a coupon, this is the backing/log of the booklet."

Embarrassed, she quickly dug threw her purse and pulled out another booklet of 25 SR coupons and tore one off RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.

Subtly wasn't her thing.

sir jorge

i do the same, buy online, get free drinks.

Don't buy them off Ebay if you're concerned about using them or the fact that they're stolen.

Northern Latte

This article is disgusting...it's a shift supervisor or above that's stealing these from the store/company as they are suposed to be kept in the safe and accounted for at each count in or held on the cash controller to be transfered to the next cash controller....this kind of stuff makes me so mad for all of us partners that care about our company and our profits and most of all OUR stock options in OUR company...I wish the Asset Protection people would track these internal theifs down and prosecute them for theft.


That is disgusting Northern Latte. I echo your sentiments. I've gotten a recovery coupon now and then - I've noticed that they've become thicker and are folded as compared to the old days where they more resembled a bill. Either way, it doesn't matter, people will abuse them if they can!


I've heard about these kinds of coupons/in-store credit slips, etc from all kinds of stores being sold on ebay. People steal something and return it for a "store credit" and then sell the store credit on ebay. Free money for that person. It's all wrong, and whoever does it should be ashamed. If you don't have the money to buy a drink at Starbucks, don't go there every day. DUH! Theft is theft, even if you're "buying" the item.

Exactly why there is very little that I would even consider buying from e-bay....even worse is the fact that his guy knows it's wrong and continues to do it anyway!


Even though, if I were the above customer I may use the things, especially since the people from SBUX practically TOLD him he could, but I agree with you, Northern Latte. Hopefully, they will.

This is a side effect of having such an enormous company. Obviously P&A Protection didn't have a problem with this. Starbucks is still making enough money that it really is only a drop in the bucket. This one customer is getting a free drink every day, out of how many total customers in that store? I could see this problem getting out of hand if the company maintains such a complacent attitude, but for now apparently it's not much of a concern.
Whether such actions are right or wrong is a good question, although I don't buy the line that this neccesarily trickles down to all partners. If it does, it's because upper management and corporate does not want to take the hit.

Northern Latte

Karma... Please help this e-bay buying guy get his in the end and te parnters removing them from the store!!!!!!!
We all know that karma is a b----!!

Wow, we have to stamp ours and have a CC initial it before we give them out. Maybe more people should do this.

Out of curiosity, I went to ebay to check out the coupons. They seem to be selling for about $4 a piece. Seems a bit ridiculous to be paying $4 for something that was most likely stolen, and that you aren't going to get that much of a discount on. Seems pretty unethical from both the seller and the buyer.


Guess I'll be putting mine under lock and key. This person is very unethical, he knows he is buying stolen property and has no guilty feelings about it whatsoever, he's a thief, pure and simple.


Ridiculous. Where I come from, this is called theft.

Anon. at 3:04 had a pretty good idea...

Dr. Peaberry

Good story:

(This did not happen on my shift, I was in the back room when it happened but heard about it immediately after)

A man, acting "suspiciously", as said by a barista, walks in and attempts to return a pound of Mocha Sanani and a box of Black Apron Exclusive. He didn't have a receipt. So the barista calls over the shift on duty, who offers him store credit on account of our transaction policy. The man throws a fit and insists on cash. After much discussion, the SS bends and just gives him cash back. After the man leaves, the barista, who was quite flustered by the event, informs the SS that the man simply walked in the store and picked up the items from the bean shelves. He never even bought them to begin with.


Yeah, they're both still employed...

I like to use that situation of when "just say yes" can fail to make you legendary.


I'm a fairly understanding person when it comes to doing my job and accomodating my customers. Having said that, when I see blatant theivery, and I do every day, I'm your worst nightmare. People that come into my store and try to rip me off are normally lucky if they've only left with a tongue lashing. If they are not lucky, the cops are already sitting in the parking lot when they go to leave.

You people that stroll into an establishment looking for nothing but to steal and cause trouble, are the same scum that make things harder on the poor employees that work for companies that will put up with your crap. If I had my way, you'd all be locked up with pedophiles and rapists, since I consider it about as vile to steal from a company that values your 'business' as it is to commit other attrocities on man kind


oh, and have a nice day. =)


In my value system, getting a couple of bucks off a drink doesn't register on the unethical side of things. That end of the scale is really just reserved for the biggies: the things which actually have an effect on someone's quality of life.


Well, here we go from a legal standpoint!

If this employee is taking these coupons from his or her place of employment, it certainly sounds like theft. The difference though is that those items are not for sale and are (by your own admission) given to customers free of charge if something is wrong with their order.

That means (and I have read the back of them when I get them) that they have NO CASH VALUE. Thus, the person is not committing a criminal act of petty theft. Sorry.

Unethical? Yes. Immoral? Yes. Wrong? Yes. Illegal? No.

It might be against company policy, but not in violation of any law.


Some could argue that 4 bucks for a coffee is, in itself, robbery. It's a commodity, we all know that, but that doesn't give anyone the right to, in effect, steal from a company that goes out of it's way to please it's customer base. And for you people that are getting ready to chime in with your bad experiences, I'll say this. Starbucks, the company, cares more for it's customers than really anything else. If you pissed off a barista and got poor service, that's your bad. I know that bad service does exist without having been earned and sometimes accidents happen, but no one can tell me that one bad experience is enough to warrent the entire company getting a bad name. I've been on both sides of the counter and can say sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Suck it up and move on. If you had a problem so bad that you cant live with yourself if you return, by all means, go elsewhere. Bad baristas don't last long, atleast in my experience. I'm management and can say I've worked with some of the best and worst that starbucks has to offer and the worst usually get tired of hearing complaints about their work ethic and move on, or else are bad enough to be asked to move on. But, that's off topic. No one has the right to walk into any establishment and expect more or less than the best service you can get for the 'going rate'. You may not see anything wrong with getting a couple of bucks off your drink, but that's your tragically 'sku'd' (get it) sense of morals, not mine. Bottom line, if you steal, you deserve punisment, whether it be a scowl and naughty words from a lowly retail partner, or a stint in prison, that's up to the powers that be.


I remember a store manager back in summer of 2006 from store # 10301 in Vermont that would accept FAKE coupons printed off the internet for frappuccinos. It was at the time when there was an internal promotion for Starbucks partners in the South East region to have those drinks for free but it got leaked out illegally.

What astounded me was that this SM at #10301 gleefully accepted them despite the fake printouts using the "just say yes" policy. He should've been reported to the powers to be. Some customers got away with bringing in more copies of the coupons.

My advice? Never let your SM or ASMs being tricked by photoshopped coupons and turn the customers away. It is considered 'stealing'. There are sneaky customers who like to take advantage of this system.


What happens when you are caught with stolen goods Chantal? They may say 'no cash value', but they never belonged to the person that sold them and are therefore 'stolen'. I'm no lawyer, but I'm pretty sure it's still illegal to possess stolen property in this country.

No Name

The SRCs are supposed to be kept in the safe and accounted for by the Cash Controller every time the safe is counted. If they are counted like they're supposed to be, the SM can know pretty much right away when they are disappearing and on whose shift! If the safe procedures are followed, the coupons will stop disappearing-it's pretty simple.
And re the ethics of the thing: the coupons are not there to be taken by a partner to be sold for profit on e-bay-we're prohibited by policy, to sell even our free weekly Mark-out coffee! Even tho it's freely given to us by our company and, you'd think, ours to do with as we will- we are not allowed to sell it! Why would it be ok to steal the coupons and sell them?????


Also, when you are fired from Starbucks for running off with SRCs, the official reason on the epan I send, is Theft. Terminated, not rehireable. Just that last thought. We can't call it theft, if it's not.

again, have a nice day

Its still stealing!

Chantal: when you take something that does not belong to you it is called stealing. PERIOD.
No matter how you try to spin it, no matter how much you want to justify it, it's stealing. Sorry, but it is.

NERFEBARISTA, your answer is in your question. If the coupons are given to people free of charge (even if they are customers) and they do not have a face value, taking them is not stealing. It is highly unethical, but it is not illegal. It's like taking extra shampoos from a hotel. They're technically not yours - they belong to the hotel, but you take them home anyways.

I'm not saying it was right, I'm saying it is not illegal. You people throw around terms like "illegal" and "stolen" like they are going out of style.

A la Anonymous 5:08, "illegally" leaked email coupons? LOL...


Chantal, come into my store and start taking them out of my safe-even though they have "no cash value" and then start looking for another job because you will be fired.

It may not be against the law, but it's against Starbucks core values and a corrective action. People may think they're being sly by stealing service recovery coupons, but I just termed someone for this very offense.


They are a bit out of style lately, but, I assure you, if (big if i know) you as a partner were actually taken to court for theft of those coupon, it would be an open and shut case. You knowingly took items that did not belong to you and unless my knowledge (small as it is) is for some reason flawed, that constitutes theft, perhaps not grand larceny, but it's still theft. If, then in turn, said partner gave out a list of people that purchased (knowingly as everyone on this board assumes they are not legally obtained in the first place) said stolen goods, would aslo be pursued legally and could also be fined or likewise for possessing goods they know to be illegally obtained. If you buy a cd player from dude on the street and turned the corner to find a cop waiting for you, you would be liable for purchasing stolen goods, would you not? Little, though, do I like our justice system, I do know the bits that tend to apply to my daily life. If there are any practitioners of law lurking around in the hedges, I urge you to post your interpritation of any laws that might encompass this sticky situation. Though I know in the end it would do little to change our would be free drink theives! And if the law isn't your concern, ask yourself this.. why the bloody hell am I bothering to steal coffee? as I said above, it's a commodity, you don't have to have it. If you can't afford it, do without... Tho I suppose the same could be said for my smoking habbit... Still, I'm not stealing camel cash to get those nifty backpacks..

Chantal et al: let me see if I get this:
1) something that 'isn't for sale can't be stolen' Is that seriously your argument???
2) because the coupon is freely given to certain customers as service recovery, that makes it ok for an employee to take them for themselves to sell on e-bay. Srsly?

So, the sanitizer in the backroom is not for sale, so I can take it home
AND since I sometimes lend my car to a friend, it's ok for that friend to come on by and take my car anytime they want and keep it and sell it on e-bay.



Sarah, I'm a police officer, not a Starbucks worker.

So by all means, terminate me! LOL

I have my masters in administration of justice... Please, let's try not to question the legal definitions of theft.

RE-READ what I wrote, Sarah. IMMORAL, UNETHICAL, AND WRONG. No doubt. Theft? I think not.

Suzanne Wells

Welcome to the dark side of eBay. This is why so many things are so cheap on eBay. But, there are also plenty of legit coupons on eBay, too. I've been to plenty of grand openings of fast food chains where they are handing out free coupons left and right. I get free movie tickets every time I donate blood - and I've sold those on eBay. I also know plenty of moms who buy >grocery coupons on eBay in bulk and save big on their groceries. This is definitely a personal decision on the buyer's part - it is hard to know what is stolen and what isn't. Tough call.


I assume personal attacks are not allowed on this board, so I won't bother putting in that snappy little comment about you being awake during your classes..

I will however ask you what in the name of the lord does theft mean if it doesn't mean taking something that doesn't belong to you?

Regardless of value, you can not take something that is not yours and not being doing anything illegal... or am I just totally full of it?

From Black's Legal Dictionary (pg 704 of the 2nd Pocket Edition):

Theft, n. 1. The unlawful taking and removing of another's personal property with the intent of depriving the true owner of it; larceny 2. Broadly, any act or instance of stealing, including larceny, burglary, embezzlement, and false pretenses.

The question remains, what value is being stolen when a person takes a coupon for a drink that Starbucks intended to give out anyways? Is it abusing the system? Yes. Should the person taking the coupons and reselling them be fired? Yes.

However, I'm not sure that Starbucks could make a legal case against the person taking them. It would be an interesting argument.

Also, see:

Larceny: The unlawful taking and carrying away of someone else's personal propety with the intent to deprive the possesor of it permanently.

(Pg. 398 of Black's Law Dictionary)

Upon further thought, if the coupons are property of Starbucks, then it could be considered petty larceny.

Hrm. This requires more thought.

Chantal: WHAT is your definition of theft then?
We all know you're a cop...so, what do you consider taking something that does not belong to you??? Do your bosses think the same way??? So I can walk into your station and take whatever I want because it wasn't for sale???

I think I can speak for allot of folks here when I ask again: what exactly, then is your professional definition of theft?

service recovery coupons are stupid. thats why i stopped ordering them a year ago and threw all the rest of them away.


The argument is that it's not stealing if the coupons are designed to be given away anyways


Obviously the coupons say 'no cash value'. This frees us baristas from having to let customers use them towards purchases other than barista made drinks. For instance, they may not be used to purchase any kind of food or bottled beverage. Were they to have say a $5 value, such as we have offered in the past, they could be used on anything.. literally. With these however, they can only be used to pay for a hand crafted beverage. The other way to look at it is that that coupon represent a minimum of 55 cents, the price of a drip refill and at most, according to one of the articles I saw on this site, $12-$15 if you have the nerve and lack of tastebuds to use it that way.

The writing on the back does not mean that the coupon is worthless. The fact that this is a discussion, must mean that there is value attributed to them. If someone is popping on ebay and paying even $50 for a book of 25, that is still potentially $50 that Starbucks didn't get. Granted, I suppose that isn't the lookout for the buyer and perhaps they could be guilt free legally, tho I was always under the impression that having stolen goods was punishable by law. The theif however, according to the legal deffinition above would be punishable by law. Starbucks, however, is satisfied with terminating such partners and does not choose to prosecute as it would be a waste of resources and time. That doen't make it legal..

how can you say they're not of value when they're legally redeemable for product from a place of business?

OH but i forgot, you have a degree in coupons...


just because you're honest about stealing doesn't mean you're not stealing. paying 2.47 for whatever with the intention to get half of your venti frappuccino for free is stealing. starbucks shouldn't be nice to these people, i mean, they aren't even paying us for product. I might as well buy me some of these coupons if no one cares.


I had a simple solution for this. I always kept a booklet in the store, in the safe, to be counted.

I let everyone know that they should go to all other means to appease a customer short of this, but if this was the only way, they had to get the SS. The only service recovery coupons out of the safe (5 of them) were to be in the SS's till.

And I let the SS's know that I expected to see virtually none used, and if they did use one I wanted a story about the customer and why they felt the need to use one (not in a bad or demeaning way of questioning their judgement, just "tell me what happened" type of story).

Hell, I'd turn people down who asked me for them. "I want a free drink coupon."

"No. I'm sorry. I don't give those out upon request."

and yet those people still kept coming back.

Chantel: I am a criminal defense lawyer in Washington state. you should know that the definition of "theft" varies from state to state, but in WA taking RCs from a store IS a theft.

Criminal defense LAWYER trumps MA in Justice Admin!
I think Chantal is feeling bad about all the stolen coupons she bought on ebay!!!


It's stealing. *shrug* lots of people do it every day, so pick where you draw your line and stand there.


I'm a third-year law student at SFSU and I would like to hear this criminal defense lawyer's rationale for saying it is theft because if something is free and given away you can't steal something that was free anyways. Duh!


Aren't you all being a little unfair? how about representation from the other side?
I guess it's up to me to stand up for the silent side.

Yeah, I've swiped coupons before. I'm a thief, yep. And you know what? It bothers me not at all, knowing I'm depriving poor ol' starbies a grand total of 60 bucks because I find coupons to be great gifts to girls I think are attractive. Y'know what else? My shift manager does the same thing.
y'know what else? My store manager doesn't give a care. Y'know what else? This is a corporate owned coffee shop, with millions upon millions of dollars lining the pockets of business (such as Howard himself so he can afford a 24.7 million dollar apartment).

Oh, and y'know what else? I even partner bev my friends when they walk into my million dollar a week, 24 hour a day store.

With all the love,

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