Some Starbucks Customers Angry at Rewards Program Changes

  • Starbucks has announced changes to its popular rewards program.
  • Many items such as free coffee, lattes and sandwiches will soon be more difficult to use.
  • Some customers are angry and say they will stop buying Starbucks in response.

Starbucks just announced changes to its very popular rewards system, and some customers are not happy with it. Under the new system, which will come into effect in February 2023, more points will be required to use many menu items.

Customers who sign up for the chain’s Starbucks Rewards program earn points or “stars” when purchasing food or drinks, which can then be redeemed for free menu items like coffee. Free hot coffee, tea or baked goods will now require 100 stars, double the previous 50 star price. Hot breakfast items such as sandwiches that previously required 150 stars will now require 200 stars, along with cold beers, lattes and all other “crafted drinks”.

Many of these angry customers took to social media to complain. Insider spoke to four Starbucks customers who said they’ll be visiting the chain less with the change.

LC Graf-Juarez “undermines Starbucks rewards system” tweeted the day the announcement was posted. Despite being a loyal customer since 2015, Graf-Juarez plans to stop visiting Starbucks, she told Insider. “Starbucks is slowly moving away from any sense of goodwill I thought they had, and as inflation soars, there’s little reason to ‘cure’ myself with the products of a company that isn’t treating us right in return.”

Amy Babby, another former Starbucks fan, told Insider she plans to quit the habit altogether. She said she plans to visit local coffee shops from now on.

Starbucks says changes are necessary for the health of the rewards program.

“We need to make occasional changes to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Starbucks Rewards program and to meet the changing needs of our members,” the company said in a press release. said.

However, some customers are dissatisfied with this logic.

“I understand you have to raise prices with inflation, and I’d be happy to pay more for my lattes!” Customer Katy Biddle told Insider. “But it seems a little ridiculous to have us spend $100 before we get a free latte… It seems like they’re taking advantage of us at this point,” he told Insider.

Xochi Mendoza, a customer since 2013, felt the same way.

“I stopped going too often because of the price hikes and would save my stars for free drinks I wanted to try,” he told Insider. “Nobody is happy with these changes and I really hope they take a step back and rethink these changes.”

A Starbucks representative directed Insider to the company’s press release when reached for comment.

Starbucks has one of the most successful award memberships in the fast food industry. The program has 28.7 million members as of this quarter, up 16% year over year. Rewards members were responsible for more than half of Starbucks’ sales last quarter.

Other fast service chains have recently made it more expensive for customers to earn rewards. Chipotle has increased the number of reward points members need for a free burrito by 16%, and Dunkin’ has revamped its entire rewards system, more than doubling the amount of spend required for drinks like a free latte.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

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