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January 03, 2011


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I <3 music

Only in the last year or so have I seen it enforced or really talked about. Just say yes has always been the go to on people trying to get a refill price when they don't qualify.

Haddie Nough

Interesting. Our mgr. was applauded for enforcing the refill policy, then reprimanded for not "just saying yes". These are good times.


It's NOT policy, so he should be reprimanded.

coffee drinker

I think this policy is fine and should be enforced, especially re those who leave the store and return. I'm fuzzier on the 2-hour aspect; but the store I frequent has so few customers in the off-season, someone staying longer isn't an issue from what I can tell.

Regardless, this entire policy needs to be on the starbucks.com site faq re refills. There's nothing about the 2-hour limit. It says,

''Do I have to present my Starbucks Card to get a free brewed coffee or tea refill?

Yes. You will have to present your registered Starbucks Card to the barista for your free refill. Free refills must occur within the same store visit. Once you leave the store, your visit has ended and any subsequent coffee or tea refill thereafter would be considered a new purchase. Coffee and tea refills are intended for people who are spending time in our stores."

Furthermore, my local store says the refill policy doesn't include hot tea, which I've asked for. I quoted them the website policy, which clearly states,

"Can I get unlimited brewed coffee or tea refills? Can I use any size cup for free brewed refills?

Yes and yes. You can get unlimited brewed coffee or tea refills during your visit with any size cup, including hot or iced coffee/tea. "


Thank goodness. I wish my DM would let me put this up.


I definitely remember Howard Schultz at the 2008 Shareholder Meeting describing card benefits, "Stay as long as you like. Free refills while you're in the store.". I have never seen any customer-facing materials limiting an IN store refill to two hours. ??? I think coffeedrinker has got it right.

red cup

what howard said is basically what the policy is, the 2 hour time limit thing is a myth.

who doesnt know the meaning of "refill" its a cup of coffee that you are refilling, not grab a cup from the trash outside go to the bathroom rinse it, come to the register and ask for a refill. but then again these are our customers.


Fail. I hope the partners responsible for this stunt are fired.

There's nothing wrong with enforcing the refill policy, as long as you aren't making up your own policy.


Another case of good intent, awful execution. Why go to all the trouble of taking this stand without bothering to check the source? Page 5.13 of your POS resource manual. No time limit, stay as long as you like, but once you leave your visit is over. The 2 hour limit is the old wifi limit. In my 10 years I've never seen it attached to refills. Frakking idiots, i'm with baristamclane. I hope they get axed for making everyone else's life more difficult.


Surely this didn't come down from Seattle. I predict punishment for whichever SM/DM thought this up.


I'm all for enforcement of the refill policy, but this should be done in conversation, not as a sign. That's kind of off-putting and, dare I say, bitchy.


The original policy, before any updates and when I started working for the company 8 years ago, had a 30 minute limit from the time of purchase to get a free refill. I actually just found some old register stickers that explained the old return policy and the old 30 minute refill policy.

It's really not fair to those who pay full price when we are "just saying yes" to the same guy who never pays full price and just asks for a refill in his own personal cup. Would love for my store to put up a sign like this. I wonder how much money Starbucks is losing as a whole because of free refills to customers who don't qualify.


The thing is, is that "refills" are listed on the menu board as .50 so you have everyone coming in for their 50 cent refill and when you use any registered card it comes up as free. I contacted Mission Review about taking it off of the menu board as it is confusing the subject and they said just to follow the policy in the manual..still doesn't make sense to me to have it listed up there w/out the stipulations of the customer staying in the store.


Got a question.
I e-mailed Starbucks with a question about the Starbucks rewards. They misinterpreted my question as me having a bad store experience and mailed me two free beverage coupons.

Will the store where I use this coupon be penalized if I used it?

The back of the coupons reads "Barista, please ring as 'Recovery Cert.'"


No, the store will not be penalized if you use it. Hell, no one will even know that you received those when technically you didn't even have a bad experience.


There is no penalty to the store. They can be used at any store. Individual stores can order no more than 25 certificates a week.

Coffee Soldier

Let's speculate about Howards big mid week announcment?

Leadership? Who knows...must be something big though or he'd send an memo to the stores!


I hate that the "Just say yes" policy trumps all others... especially when people come through the drive-thru at 5:30 am for a refill in their sparkling clean personal cup...


It's okay to say, I'm sorry but this isn't a refill because you haven't been here yet. Just say it with a smile.


At my store, I know of several customers who come for "refills" and whenever they get called on it they say "they ALWAYS do this for me." So, the tenth time this week that we have told you it isn't supposed to be a refill you are still saying "oh, but they ALWAYS..." no. not always. not ever anymore actually. I'm tired of people abusing the JSY policy and flat-out lying to our partners to get free coffee.


Ok WHO has info on the "exciting announcement" coming on Wednesday??


Maybe the "big announcement" will be an across the board cost of living increase. It's been about 3 years since they did so. The only cost-of-living increases made to barista or shift pay scales have been specific to certain markets. I can't imagine what else would deserve this hype.

In all likelyhood it will be something boring like "zomg! we're opening 500 stores in india in the next five years", or "thanks to your hard work and VIA's extreme(ly overstated, manufactured) popularity, we're launching ten news via products and stores that meet their astronomical sales goals will win a pet goldfish!



a chance to win a pet goldfish. a chance to win.


It will in all likelihood be an announcement that will be "important" to Howard but that won't do much to improve the quality of life for front line partners. I'm really beginning to see Howard as a world class douchebag!


With the new setup materials, there is a small attachment to put by the register which has the refill policy written and is to be shown to customers.


Yeah the whole refill policy is annoying. I wish we just wouldn't have any refills. We get D-bags who come in and get free refills all day, never pay, and complain when we call them on it. Whats worse? My store follows that stupid policy where we don't re-use cups so people walk in and just ask for a refill without a cup or any proof that they ever had one to begin with. It drives me nuts.

Coffee Soldier

Cost of living increase...hmmm...doubt it...plus all the SS and baristas just got bonuses. I'll be willing to bet it is something to energize the SM and above this time. DM's are speculating leadership...maybe an announcment now for one way off in the future like FY12 to keep everyone engaged and people not leaving due to promise of a trip for the next year!.

A trip to the Via factory :)


Big announcement from Howard? Maybe that his new book is done? :)

(Just kidding, I have no idea what the big announcement is)


The Trenta is coming. A quart of love.

SS in GA

I won't lie- this makes me so happy! We have a good number of people who come in for their "refills" all the time. I do not appreciate being fussed out because I won't give them a refill because I know I haven't seen them in the cafe or in the store at all that day. My favorite is the first customer of the morning asking for a refill. Really, dude???

We had a lady come in once or twice with the same story. She brought in her own cups and got upset when we charged her for a tall coffee minus the cup discount. Apparently, she had always been charged for a refill when she brought her own cup. I had to explain the refill policy to her and refused to give her a refill price. She was not pleased but all I could think was "I'm going to punch that barista/store who always does this for her!"
We're the only store in the area who actually follows the refill policy and I am so thankful for this!

Also, the last time I checked, the policy says any refill includes hot or iced coffee and hot or ice tea, regardless of the original purchase (coffee or tea). Interesting!

Coffee Drinker

It seems that occasionally one barista in particular at the SBUX doesn't notice I'm there. I mean, when I ask for a refill, she'll say, "is this your first today" or "have you been here a while??" I intitially thought she was making conversation, but yesterday I realized she may think I'm just coming in with my cup, trying to get free coffee.

There's nothing about me that suggests I'd rip them off; I tip well, sometimes a dollar for a short coffee, and, she'll catch herself when I hand her my cup and she notices either it's warm from being inside, or still has a bit of coffee.

If I'm honest, I think she's just looking for some drama; unfortunately, I'm totally boring!

But they surely do "owe" me for charging for tea refill, and/or not giving me one unless I paid? I should've been more forceful and said, "the website says this, that's why I have a registered card" etc.

The proposed sign is a Bad Idea, those entering are met with NO NOT DON'T mentality. Enforce the rules correctly, it can be done. Don't punish the masses with negativity, for the few lawbreakers.

 Red cup

Maybe she ask every refill customer dont take it personal and the law breakers are not a few.


Even if it is in fine print on the menu board we need some kind of posting of it. People come into our store from other stores asking for a refill and saying "other stores give them a refill". And they even lie and say they've been in there when clearly they are still wearing their coat, or their sunglasses or still reak of cigarette smoke.
As one EXTREME example: There is one cheapskate, non-tipping customer that comes in the morning and gets a tall coffee with his gold card. That's it. Sometimes a pastry too. He then comes in and out of the store all freakin day and we are forced to just say yes because he complained to the manager who just gives refills no question about being in the store asked and we were told to just say yes to him no matter how long he left the store for.. Then he started "switching" to a tall iced tea, then tall tea lemonade then a grade tea lemonade. All as a "refill" (which lemonade tea isn't even refillable drink!) and when we told him no each time he wanted lemonade, he bitched to the DM and so now he gets all the $3 lemonade teas he wants for free because we have no "clear" policy. and other people that see and hear what he gets and ask for the same treatment.
People are cheap. They figure out holes in the system and use and abuse it until that hole is fixed. This written enforcement needs to be done somehow. Whether it is a sign at the register or condiment bar, or fine print on the menu, or whatever. So people like the green tea lemonade jerk stop making us lose so much money and have to be so short staffed.


What I love is when I tell someone they need to have purchased the coffee at our store, and then they not only say "so and so store gives me refills" but start in on me with "you don't know Starbucks policy".

Yes, yes I do. And I'm supposed to charge you full price, because you bought that coffee at 8am somewhere else miles from here.


I understand some people's legitimate confusion over the 'Refill' policy, and am glad SBUX is trying to clear it up.

At most convenience stores, there is a "refill" price for coffee, soda, etc, which is more like what some customers expect -- a sizable chunk off of the retail price, not just a dime, but not free or nearly free, either.

It's for if you bring your own cup in, regardless of the time.

Then, there are full-service restaurant type establishments, where of COURSE coffee refills are free, but, the idea of coming BACK for a free one wouldn't be considered.

Since SBUX is in between, with a cup discount AND an in-store refill policy, can't they just change the menu board to read something like,

"same-visit, in-store refill: $0.50"

Doesn't sound so hard...


who doesn't know the meaning of "refill" its a cup of coffee that you are refilling, not grab a cup from the trash outside go to the bathroom rinse it, come to the register and ask for a refill. but then again these are our customers.

I must say I thought honestly we were the only store where people tried to do this.. All the time we have some people going through our trash just to get a cup and then turn around and try to get a free refill. We also have people getting a morning coffee that leave and come back in the PM, only to try to get their refill then too.

Honestly they must think we are thick at our store!

You should hear about all the things people try to do to "cut" ways in our store. It's ridiculous and it drives me nuts.


Why couldn't the policy be amended to include "upon presentation of receipt" like the $2 after 2:00 p.m. promotion from a while ago? That would still allow the legit refill people the access to their drink, and people who didn't have the receipt - too bad, whether or not they're trying to scam the store. It would make things more uniform between stores and give partners a way to say no legitimately without being accused of bad service. Make it an across-the-board thing.

Scared barista.

That is the policy same visit same store for the refills. But there are so many stores that do NOT follow this (including mine to my disagreement). So corporate trying to enforce this will NOT work. All stores are going to do what they want anyway. I have customers come to my store in the morning and all day come in and out and get their free refills or .50 refills. Trust me they will continue to do that even if corporate tries to enforce the policy. ALL partners from SM's on down will not want to hear the customers complain so just to shut them up they will give the refills anyway. So what is the point of all this. Starbucks needs to first make sure everyone is on the same page and those who are not they need to get there or get to another book.


We are in a plaza. There are two people that work within the plaza who buy a tall coffee in the morning and come in and out a couple times a day for their free refill. I don't care!
But the lawyer who uses a gold card and brings in his damn filthy cup trying to get refills isn't going to happen. I doubt that man buys more than 1 coffee a week. I think I'm the only person in the store that wont refill the cup that has been rolling around his car for days and he keeps refilling it for free. I want to tatoo, "CHEAT" on his forehead.
Ahhhhhhhhh. Venting.... I feel better now.

Coffee Drinker

I guess I'm a weirdo. I usually even tip for my legitimate free refill!

Coffee Drinker

I guess I'm a weirdo. I usually even tip for my legitimate free refill!

Jason Sims

So baristas and other peeps... How much money does Starbucks have invested in a cup of coffee that they charge $1.65, 2.00 and $2.16 for a cup? Maybe $.03 cents?

I don't think a refill from the same store purchased from no matter what time of the day they purchased it is too much to ask.

Sure, you will have idiots abuse the system but that happens in every retail establishment. Posting signs is not the way to go about this.

BTW...wassup with the price increase? I went in today and my daily bold was about 10 cent more. I guess were having to pay for other peoples refills.

James Connolly

To be honest, the only time I ever enforce the refill policy is when it's particularly egregious, like someone coming in with a holiday cup in February (which, being realistic, will likely happen). Other than that, when the company turns a profit on a single tall cup being sold from a full batch brewed, I really can't work up moral outrage over someone getting a cup of coffee on the cheap, especially looking at the profits made and dividends paid out last year.


@Jason Sims good luck going into any other establishment and expecting a refill on something you didn't buy while you were there. The entitlement people feel about Starbucks products baffles me.

I pay more for a large soda at fast food chain X -- and several times more for a large soda at a movie theater -- than I do for a large coffee at Starbucks. Yet Starbucks is the only place I ever hear customers whine about having to buy something when they come back for a visit later in the day.

Darth Sidamo

@Jason Sims. The coffee itself may cost that little. The bulk of the price of the coffee comes from the built in cost of cream and sugar. Go buy a thing of high quality half and half at a store. With some customers alone they use at least a dollar worth of cream.

Jason Sims

@Darth Sidamo. I don't see the price of milkshakes going up at places that serve them.
"HIGH QUALITY CREAM" - When did Maola and PET become high quality. I can pick these up at any grocery store in town.

Coffee Drinker

As I pulled into SBUX lot a bit ago, another patron did as well and got out of his car. He was in line, just ahead of me, asking for a refill in his obviously used paper cup.

The barista said something, then, "Ah it's okay...I'll give it to ya..." He then put more cash on his card, and as I walked away with my own coffee, I saw him leave with a beverage carrier of 4 venti beverages.

So I guess the baristas gave him free coffee for being a good customer.

I come in almost daily, should I try this? ha ha.

10 years in

Yes, refill abusers are annoying but consider how sad it is that they have to resort to such pathetic behavior to get their fix. They may think they are putting one over on us or getting away with something but each time they do it a bit of their soul is being sucked away. Don't let them drag you down with them. Smile and create good karma for yourself by just saying yes. Think of all the coffee we dump down the drain each day. We can afford to be the gracious ones. Or you could always give them 30 min old decaf. :)

I <3 music

@ 10 years in
Well said!


So...how about that big announcement? Link is in my name to the video.

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