Starbucks has several policies that both baristas and customers consistently misunderstand, which almost always ends with an unhappy patron.
Seattle attorney Melody Overton identifies the four most confusing policies on her blog, StarbucksMelody.com.
1. The refill policy. Starbucks offers unlimited free refills — no matter what your original drink order was — as long as you’re inside the store and you’re a Starbucks Rewards member at the Green and Gold levels.
“Once you leave the store, it is NOT a refill,” Overton explains. “However, the only items that can be offered to you at the refill price [ie. free] are as follows: Iced Coffee, Brewed Coffee (such as the coffee of the day, such as Pike Place Roast — not a Clover-brewed coffee), Iced Tea, and hot tea.” The hot tea refill comes with an extra tea bag.
2. Charges for soy milk: Starbucks caused an uproar a couple years ago when it began charging customers extra for soy milk.
Despite the rule change, Overton says, “If you are adding soy milk to your coffee as a creamer, and using less than four ounces, the customer should not be charged. Yet somehow that does cause confusion at the registers too.”
3. The camera policy: Starbucks customers are free to snap as many photos as they want inside stores. But they should ask for permission before featuring baristas in their photos. This policy has not always been understood by Starbucks workers, or “partners,” as they are called within the company.
4. The personal cup discount. Starbucks offers a 10-cent discount to customers who bring their own mug or tumbler to the store.
“Sometimes customers get mad when they don’t get it for using a for-here Starbucks store mug,” Overton writes. “Sorry, the policy doesn’t allow for a discount for using the Starbucks store for-here ware.”
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