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April 10, 2008


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Don't know about the free refills, but I've been to three stores this week where the baristas haven't known about or known how to give the free syrup.soy milk benefit.

Joe B

I agree. There has been a lack of communication, even at the corporate-to-store level, about the card benefits. I believe the barista need-to-know for this phase had the information in it, but few stores implement this communication tool well, if at all.


The problem is that as store partners we don't know whether someone is a registered cardholder or not. I have tried to communicate with my customers that if they are registered they need to make us aware so we can offer them the benefits. Yes, at some point we as partners will be able to ask every person individually that has a Starbucks card if it is registered, but right now with the other items we have on our plate we have to take it one step at a time.


The need to know also said that the benefits would be given to all starbucks card holders for the first 30 days, so they have time to register the card.


It's still so new, even though I like to think of myself as smart and quick on my feet, it's hard to remember in the middle of a rush to try the card benefit every time a customer presents a Starbucks Card -- I'll have the hang of it by to-morrow I'm sure but the first couple of days we're going to mess up more because it's not a habit yet. Just as when they up dated the registers and moved the debit card key, everyone had more mistakes that had to be voided later when they by habit went to hit the key in its old location.

I'd hadn't thought that the registered card benefit would apply for a Hazelnut Coffee Frappuccino at first but I tried it anyway and sure enough the Hazelnut syrup was discounted...

There is a reasonable limit to the brewed coffee refills benefit that it has to be the same visit (i.e. within two hours) and so far my brewed coffee regulars haven't been back for more quite that quickly. I've been talking it up as much as I can in slower periods though, as have plenty of my coworkers =>

"I have tried to communicate with my customers that if they are registered they need to make us aware so we can offer them the benefits."
^^^ This is probably the best way to go as long as things are still in that "breaking in" stage =>


Hey Baristas!

There was some confusion in my store about this. After we dug around in the workbook, we found the information. The new policy is free refrills, free modifiers (syrups, milks), and spontaneous perks for registered card users. There is a button on the POS screen (can't remember what it's labeled... "card benefits" maybe) which will deduct the cost of the syrups, milks, or in the case of refills, the cost.

Look for the information! It is in the workbook (so on the nice, thick shiny papers with info, not an e-mail or anything like that). Inform your customers and fellow partners! This is a new policy I am very excited about (paying for soy always irked me) and I want the customers to feel the same!

Barista of the Millennium

I think everyone is having problems with this function. Here is the best way to solve the problem:


The whole step of hitting the "Card Modifier" button on the POS screen is VERY clumsy. Why should you have to swipe the Starbucks card twice?

This was NOT thought out because it has been poorly communicated through the stores and most partners don't even know about the "Card Modifier" button on the POS.

We have created an expectation from the customer which most do not know how to fulfill (see Jim's post). How in the world can you expect to be taken seriously as a company on the rebound when the partners look clueless because of bad communication from the top-down (see also the launch of Pike Place Roast thread where some stores did not even about the coffee tasting)?

I understand that Starbucks is a big company, but if that's the case you must make sure that everyone in the company is knowledgeable about changes.

And can I also say that I am annoyed that this is ANOTHER POS related question to ask the customers ("Do you want your receipt?" is the other). How are we supposed to have a legendary conversation with the customers when we have all of these mandatory questions?

So far, I have liked most of the changes (new Espresso standards, fresher coffee, consistent coffee, customer focus, no more warming stores, bringing back the romance of the coffee shop experience), some I haven't (the starbucksidea website (which only one customer has asked me about). But my protest is that Starbucks has not put more focus on the execution of these changes nation-wide. How about a little more time in between these changes to properly implement them?

I'm just sayin...

Barista of the Millennium

Sorry I should have posted "Card Benefits" button rather than "Card Modifier."

I don't work at a U.S. store, but rather a Canadian one, and for the most part, our promotions were part-and-parcel with those at U.S. stores, however this one started an exception - our promotion is completely different, and let me say in my most Green Apron way that whoever was in charge of this one needs to be put on a PDP, and quickly.

We didn't get our brewer reprogramming card at all, the Siren's Eye came separate from the workbook, and late; our workbook is THREE pages long, which is just inexcusable, the Starbucks Card benefits info came late, the Siren's Eye shows all kinds of merchandise and signage that U.S. stores recieved but we didn't, and we weren't shipped any promotional coffees. Talk about frustrating.

So to top it all off, we don't get PPR - we get House Blend, which is "still a great coffee" :-(, and boy, do we get a lot of it. Our store is being dumped with over 400 prepacks each week. PREPACKS!! The ones that aren't good enough for U.S. stores, but work just fine up in Canada. And the best deal here: these are the same prepacks that we used earlier, the 9oz ones with no hold time, that you had to brew right away and couldn't stage... I'll let you guess what we do with them:

We stage them, in the big, plastic cubes we use for frap. And the coffee sits there all day.

So how's that enhancing the coffee experience? Now, rather than rip open the pack and brew, we "scoop" from a bin. Not quite what Howard had in mind, let me tell you. Colin Moore, the president of Starbucks Coffee Canada, needs to wake up and see that if we're supposed to execute to a standard, those standards need to be worth executing to. I feel like our stores are taking second or third place here.

Phew. Feels good to get that off.

It was definitely poorly communicated. I still can't find it in our workbook.


search for "starbucks card benefits" on the portal and you'll find the barista need-to-know


As an retail Partner, I have to concur with the others' postings regarding the poor communication of this benefit and the others. Basically what I know about it I learned on the Starbucks.com website and via the POS reference card under my register. No review of the benefits during brewing training, no discussion from managers or shifts - just one big clumsy promo period. Fortunately I have the desire and forethought to figure these things out on my own!

Most Partners in my store knew little (if anything) about the modifiers benefit and no one knew about the free tall espresso beverage with purchase of a pound of coffee. Why wasn't this IMPORTANT information conveyed to us during the brewing training sessions? I really, really don't understand how something so big fell through the cracks so easily.

On a separate note, has anyone yet decoded which modifiers are actually discounted? I have had to ring up "Grande Vanilla Latte" as "Grande Latte + Vanilla Syrup" in order for the card benefit discount to work. There's seems to be some sort of discrepancy between "signature drinks" (see "Cinnamon Dulce Latte" vs. "Latte + Cinnamon Dulce Syrup") in terms of whether the discount is applied or not. It is quite confusing. I would love to hear your experiences with this!


I get more information from this website than I do from Starbucks itself

I think the confusion on the refill policy is that it is really only meant to be given if you remain in-store. I see people come back hours later with a dirty cup and ask for a refill, and we "just say yes" and charge them the refill price. This may be why people are getting charged - because they are not remaining in-store, and thus are not entitled to the free coffee, much less the discounted cup of coffee they are actually getting.

thanks for the insight

I was wondering why it was so difficult to get the benefits of registering my card on my vanilla and soy.

How do I get the partners at the store I go to believe me?

@Barista of the millennium: What's wrong with starbucksidea site?

Starbucks' biggest problem has always been communication.
Store managers just need to address stuff a.s.a.p.

Frustrated Barista

We had zip, zero, nada, nothing on the Starbucks card modifiers. We have the little sign on the door, but the partners in my store that do not visit this site or the portal would have no idea what it meant. My manager never even brought it up. I don't know if she is trying to keep shut to up sales, or if she just doesn't know either. I told a bunch of my Starbucks card customers today about the perks, and gave them as a surprise and delight. So I guess that the rest of my stores crew will find out about them soon enough.
BTW, We started getting the Top Pot mini doughnuts, my Sm put them in the pastry case today and they ring up as 8.95...Are they supposed to be sold by the box???Customers were buying them like hotcakes, and we were ringing them as mini vanilla scones or not charging when they rang up wrong. They should be sold by piece, it would really up Top Pot sales.


I don't know why everybody is having so many problems. My Canadian store is running just fine. Sure, we didn't get Sumatra Peru on time for launch, but we had everything else, and all the baristas were trained on the new brewing procedures, we had hundreds of House prepacks ready to go, and the card benefits are going smoothly. I think we're okay because we have a good SM who passes along info quickly and effectively, and our Shift Supervisors are interested in the policies, and are proactive in making sure the learning cascade (passing on info from SM to shifts to baristas) works the way it was designed.

I think everybody just needs to employ some star skills... If you don't know what's going on, ask for help.

I've been to two stores that both told me that the program hadn't started yet. One then told me that it would be my responsibility to tell the barista that my card was registered (before I placed my order) or I would not get the free benefits, and another store that said the program when the program started, the charges would be reversed automatically when my card was swiped.

Talk about a communication problem!!!

All communication i have seen has said program to begin mid april

Nobody seems to know about it. It's like when the Starbucks credit card first came out. I still ask if they know how to use the duetto card if it's someone I don't know. And even though they say yes, they usually put it on the charge side! aarghh!

I tried to register the card online a couple of times, but maybe I was too early and it wasn't ready. It said if you're having trouble registering your card to call an 800 number. Just haven't had a chance yet. From all the posts it appears that the message about this has not been communicated properly, or not enough emphasis has been given to something that rewards frequent customers....the ones you want to keep!


>>>All communication i have seen has said program to begin mid april

Apparently wrong. My refills have been free ever since mentioning that I have a registered card and I know about the free refills.


The barista need to know for this was in the Spring Phase 2 promo book.

My baristas take the initiative to read this stuff before I even put it out for them to read and sign.

It's also all on the portal, which all baristas can go to.

It really is the SM's fault if baristas don't know about this, the company put all the information out there.

If you are a barista or shift supervisor, my advise to you would be to check the portal on a regular basis. If you find info your SM isn't telling you, let your DM know they are keeping the communications flowing.


I agree with Christin (above). If the barista didn't know, it was probably the SM slacking off.

My store knew about this at least two weeks in advance; I was sure to use the "card benefit" button on the POS.


I think this was a company wide bump.

We never discussed teh sbux card or ANYTHING. Yeah there was a Barista Ned to know in the spring 2 book, but noone ever actually said WHEN the program would start!


Yeah.. i find it funny, when the barista's I work with asked about what people get and if we had something we could give to the customers to let them know. I told them "well, there's the hand out little paper thing right above the cards in front of the registers" They were stunned. I guess no one really looks in front of where they stand, much.

For what its worth, your SM's should of told you about this. This isn't so much as a company bump as it is classic sbux problem of crappy managers not relaying information like they are supposed to. My manager told us all about it. Even the new SoCal promotion we're doing (which just strikes me as weird)


If one isn't an everyday customer or is a new customer, the rules about the card, registering the card, knowing that registering the card brings benefits, etc., sounds really complicated

How is a new customer supposed to know all this stuff?


If you use the card and scan it with the card benefits button then click total, it will remember the card number and you don't have to swipe twice. Whether benefits kick in or not, it will still allow you to only need to swipe once. Like if you get a partner markout and buy a cup or something it remembers your numbers automatically for the global discount.


My store (Bay and Cumberland, Toronto) knows about them, I think...
I went in yesterday and used my card (I received it as a gift from someone) and she asked me if i knew about the benefits of the card and I said no. She then proceeded to hand me a little orange pamphlet telling me all about the free refills, syrups etc... so I am assuming they have read the little orange pamphlet thingy themselves.
But who knows...

Was there supposed to be free espresso shots available, too, as a perk in addition to free syrup and milk upgrades for registered Starbucks cardholders? I seem to have heard it mentioned, and a store manager even mentioned it the day before the launch, but I haven't seen it on any company literature... only mention of the syrup and milk benefits...


I am a Starbucks partner, and with all the new things happenin, we are bound to get some things wrong the first week. Anyway, if you have a starbucks card, all the barista needs to do is hit the "card perk" button on the "bev" screen and swipe the card. If it is registered, all the things that are supposed to be free will be changed to "nc" (no charge).


Re: the Canadian situation

I agree that things are working smoothly here in Toronto -- in terms of employees knowing about the new benefits. A quirk seems to be that we can't yet register our cards. (Well, we can -- but we can't get our balance online.)

The main problem is that we're not getting Pike Place. We have to make due with house blend. On one visit, I waited a minute or so for a new batch to be ready. Fine with me. I'll wait up to five minutes for fresh, hot coffee. But the house blend coffee was disappointingly bland. The phrase that comes to mind is "so-so". I'd call it somewhat better than Tim Horton's -- but there wasn't a huge difference. Am I right in suspecting this coffee may have been roasted and ground long ago?

So I wonder if Starbucks is really going downscale and after the Tim Horton's market. After all, two cups of Starbuck's drip coffee are now cheaper than two cups of Tim's.

* Two Starbucks Venti drip coffee costs
$2.21 (with card refill benefit.)
* Two Tim's extra large drip coffees cost $3.30 ($1.65 each)



Okay, so somebody can probably answer this question for me and now that I think about it, it makes sense. Theres a button on the main screen of the POS towards the top right hand corner that says "Card Bnft" or something like that and then you swipe the card. I'm guessing if somebody wants to redeem their rewards you just hit the button and swipe the card and it kicks in the discount. There does need to be better communication about this...


Will they ever be reprogramming the registers to automatically know if a card is, er, registered? Is it possible for the POS system to query the card database and come back with an "okay, give 'em free bennies" or "benefits denied" response without slowing down the line?

I've been registered for ages now, but only one person's asked me if I was (and given me free modifiers). It'd be nice if it were an automatic check in the POS system.

Pat Nerr

all boils down to execution... As more and more things roll out the front door of the 3rd Place... it's going to be critical to get these things right.

I mean, it's about building trust with partners and customers again...

Troy Hammersmith

I stumbled across this website by accident and I thought I would let all you Starbucks fans in on a big secret - Starbucks makes coffee for people who have no idea about real coffee. The watery, tasteless slop served up by Starbucks is only slightly better than the greasy dishwater exiting out of my dishwasher's drain pipe.

Get yourself over to Europe to Italy, Greece, Turkey or Spain and have a cup of genuine coffee - coffee with taste and soul and body - not production line slop prepared by kids and wannabee barista's. Where I live the only people who drink Starbucks are college kids and lower class rednecks....those with no taste.

Keep kidding yourself your getting a great cup of coffee at Starbucks, the same way you think Burger King makes snazzy gourmet hamburgers !


Store managers and staff are confused by the various free coffee deals that are in play.

One store thought that the FreeCoffeeWednesdays card meant free coffee EVERY DAY until May. I asked them to carefully read the card; and you can picture the shocked looks on their faces.

Likewise, they are confused by the various deals and freebies with a SBUX card.


So wait, let me get this straight... I went through all the trouble of registering my starbucks card online... and now, to even get the stupid rewards of having it, I actually have to TELL them it's registered EVERY TIME???? They couldn't program the registers to recognize it? Two major issues I see with this:

1) maybe some people don't mind being jackasses but I personally feel like a total cheapskate walking up to the barista saying "hi, you're supposed to give me this for free" which means most of the time, I just won't get it...

2) what's to stop people from not bothering to register but then saying it is registered?


CoffeeIsLife, if lying about whether my card is registered works, then I will lie. Not because I'm lazy, or because I think lying is okay, but because I just hate having to register my card to get these benefits.

You see, I collect Starbucks cards. I try to get at least one of every new card. To register a card, you have to scrape off a patch on the back of the card, which reveals a code number. Scratching off this patch, however, makes the card less valuable as a collectible, so I don't want to have to do that.

And why should Starbucks care whether it's registered or not? I gave them my money, I should get all the benefits of the card. As simple of that.

PLEASE READ MY LAST POST FOR THE SOLUTION! I don't know WHY people are still asking the same questions.

The Card Benefit button already on your register will take away the cost of

1. Added syrups

2. Soy/Organic/Breve/other milk add-on costs with the swipe.

3 Brewed coffee refills with the "coffee refill button" and a swipe of card benefits.

If you click exact tender then sbux card it remembers the numbers and pays for the drink. ALWAYS use card benefits button first so you can get the perks.

Extra shots are *not* free. Whatever is free the card benefits automatically deducts it. I don't know why it's so confusing.

To Mole:

They want people to register and they give a bonus. Anyone can buy a gift card, but most avid Starbucks customers already registered with *no* perks long ago. Your logic, it's like just handing cash over and wanting extra perks. I collect Sbux cards, too, but it's not like I can't get a spare to register.

Sho Nuff

If your card isn't registered, then the system won't let you get the discounts...we just have to ask to know whether or not to check it b/c we have to swipe it BEFORE you pay and press a separate button...

Our manager informed of us of all the benefits the week before all this happened...and we told our customers beforehand, too.

I was told if you swipe to see if benefits kick in regardless if they do or not when you click exact tender and starbucks card it remembers. I don't see the big deal in just swiping twice, anyway.

More money down the drain and coffee.


I do understand why there is some confusion about the benefits. I think I remember Howard saying something like free shots at the shareholder meeting. Even my DM told us about free shots until someone pointed out that it isn't part of the promo according to the flyer they gave us.
Apparently Starbucks seems to focus on coffee and free media coverage right now, which explains why the tech guys programming the registers got away with going wild and playing around with colors, funny extra steps to go through and stuff like that. Hopefully someone will wake up soon and fix that.
My suggestions:
1) As soon as you hit Starbuckscard as a tender the system should tell you the new total (so you can tell the sustomer what's going to be deducted from his card) and then proceed with the checkout.
2) New card activations should get the discounts without registration for about a week, to give a customer time to register his card.
3.) get rid of these funny colors and make useful groups of beverages and pastries at the screen
4) Add an extra security question (are you sure to use a traveller cheque?) to the button which used to be the debit button to avoid all these voids
5) Fix the problem that you have to ring in the syrup extra in order to get the benefit. Why do we have a Vanilla Latte button if i can't use it in case my customer is eligible for the discount.
6) Why does my three times daily grande white mocha customer does not get any benefits while the short hazelnut soy no water extra hot tazo chai customer saves about a dollar a day now? Benefits should be rewarded according to how much people spent (like it works at the duetto card) not on what drink they prefer. Free refills on drip could stay anyway.
7) Give every Barista ten minutes a week of non coverage before their first shift to catch up reading all the new policies. This way there wouldn't be any communication problems. In my store most people show up on time, run to the floor, work their ass of and have no time at all to read the com-log, since we are usually only two people at the floor. If we have a third person, someone is bussing, on brake, doing deposits, pre close or whatever else off the floor. Often there is even only one Barista working the floor.

I could go on and on, but it's already a pretty long posting. Maybe we should take it step by step.


Ok; so I'm confused. I have a SB Visa card that is apparently already registered per the website that I tried to register it on. So does this mean that if I go get a tall brewed coffee, I can get a free caramel syrup in it and a free refill on same in store visit? What's the special milk choice?

special milk means you wouldn't be charged extra for steamed soy, lactose free, organic or breve milk. without the card this would cost you 0.45 extra.
And yes, your caramel would be free. I'm not so sure about the caramel in the free refill. Just try it out.

Anon wrote:

"Starbucks' biggest problem has always been communication.
Store managers just need to address stuff a.s.a.p."

As a SM I agree and it is very hard when we're required to work scheduled shifts on the floor. SM's need to become GM's so we can handle all of our Admin--take the Non-Cov--that's what I say!

I just got off the phone with the Starbucks hotline. I called them three times to make sure I got a correct answer. The first lady said "only modifiers that change the recipe are included in the promotion". The second lady said "basically any espresso based drink containing a syrup in a clear bottle will be rung up as if it were a regular latte". The third guy at first agreed with the first lady but then he checked with his supervisor and heres the deal.

-As per the customer booklet, any syrup with the exception of Mocha, White Mocha, and Chai will be free for registered card holders. Venti Vanilla Lattes, and Venti Hazelnut Lattes will cost the same as a regular Venti Latte.

-When ringing up a Vanilla Latte or Cinnamon Dolce Latte which already has a button on the menu, press that button, then the card discount. There will NOT be a line indicating there is a discount for these beverages however a discount will be applied.

- For other latte drinks, hitting the Card Benefit button after ringing up the drinks will indicate that a discount has been applied.

-Extra espresso shots are not free

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