Introducing My Starbucks Rewards

I am excited to share the next evolution of our loyalty program.  While both Starbucks Card Rewards and Starbucks Gold exceeded our expectations, we are always looking for ways to improve our programs and we received a lot of great feedback on what we could do differently.   Launching on December 26, 2009, My Starbucks Rewards will combine many elements of both programs – with no membership fee! – into one simplified program. 

On more than one occasion, I have been in line at my local Starbucks and saw one of our wonderful Gold members pull out a Gold card AND a registered Starbucks Card and ask which card would provide the better discount.  I don’t blame them at all!  Both programs were launched with good intent to provide value to our customers, but we quickly understood we could make the experience easier. 

My Starbucks Rewards will have different levels that customers can earn their way into by collecting stars for each time they visit a participating store in the U.S. and pay with their registered Starbucks Card.  The great news is that once you move up a level – you continue to get all of the benefits you received in the previous level.  Many of these benefits will seem very familiar – free drink on your birthday, free flavored syrups and brewed refills.  Others have changed.  For example while the program won’t offer the 10% discount, once a customer reaches the Gold Level, they will be able to start earning free drinks based on the number of stars they collect.  Since I know many of you are very frequent customers and have asked to be rewarded in a way that acknowledges this, I am hoping this is really good news!

A couple of other changes that were based directly on customer feedback include the ability to use any Card that is registered to your account (except Duetto®).  This means if you got a snazzy customized card from your special someone, once registered, you can use that and receive all of the great benefits associated with whatever level you are in.  That said, for members who reach the Gold Level, we will be sending them a personalized Starbucks Card – something we have wanted to do for a long time.

 Additionally, while we continue to work on ensuring benefits can be redeemed at all stores, I can tell you that with the new program – at a minimum, you will earn a star every time you use your registered Card at a location in the U.S. that accepts the Starbucks Card. 

Finally, current Gold members may be wondering what happens to them with this new program.  Of course we will honor the full term of all memberships.  In fact, as a special thank you to our dear early-joiners, memberships set to expire prior to the end of the year will be extended to January 5, 2010.  Upon expiration, Gold Card members will automatically transition into the new Gold Level of MSR.  Between now and 12.26.09, registered cardholders will automatically transition into the Green Level.

Well, despite the length of this blog, I’ve probably raised more questions than I’ve answered, which is why we have created a massive FAQ page at  I will end by saying we really did try to fix many of the biggest concerns we heard from our customers.  I hope you like it – please let us know what you think! 

Thanks, Stacy 

This blog was inspired by your ideas:

Punch card system
Starbucks Card

10/30/2009 4:32 PM

Hi, my birthday was yesterday and I still haven't received anything for my "free birthday beverage." I've filled out my mailing/emailing info on my account and have the boxes checked to receive offers in the mail/email. How come I haven't gotten anything?

10/30/2009 5:32 PM

Since you have to be at the 5 star green level to use the free wifi, how will new customers who want to use wifi be able to do so?  Will they have to pay?  The process to give them wifi is already complicated enough.

10/30/2009 6:20 PM

What about Canada? I only see US locations mentioned.

10/30/2009 6:26 PM

Regardless of how this is spun, this is a bad deal for current Gold Card customers.  Even if this "Free Drink every 15 stars" thing were to come close to equaling savings the 10% discount gives, the current discount works on more than just drinks.

Gold Card customers -- certainly some of your most loyal -- are getting the shaft. Perhaps some of that loyalty will wane now.

10/30/2009 8:32 PM

What RaeWhitlock said.  Loyal Gold Card members (who are actually willing to pay for benefits) are really getting the short end of the stick on this deal.  How is this even close to being a good idea?

Steve 2
10/30/2009 9:15 PM

Stacy...This all stinks and I am so mad I could use some bad, very bad, language.  First of all I was typing a response and all of a sudden -- poof -- it disappeard and I had to sign in again.  Now on to my comment.  Is this the "enhanced benifits" that Nancy, Sally, and Cecile were talking about? What about thumbing your noses at Canadians by cutting them out of the gold card?  It wouldn't surprise me  if they all boycott Starbucks.  After all you ask them to patronize your stores yet you do not give them the gold card.  Is this really fair?  I don't think so and it is a lousey way to do business and establish good relations especially with our closest neighbors.  And what's this about eliminating the 10% discount?  That was one of the benefits of the gold card and it was nice to take a friend out, whip out your gold card, and save them 10% on their drink.  And what this free drink for 15 drinks when punch cards give you a free drink for 10 drinks?  Stacy you asks to let you know what we think.  Well, for one, I think it sucks with a capital  S!!

Steve 2
10/30/2009 9:16 PM

It sure is a good deal for Starbucks but a lousey deal for us.

10/30/2009 9:38 PM

Is Canada included in this new promotion?  Why is Canada always excluded?

10/30/2009 10:25 PM

I do not like the new program. If you constantly buy the same drink over and over again, this might be  a fair and wonderful program, but if you're like me and you purchase A LOT of whole bean coffee, or grab new tumblers, or Rwanda cloth tote bags, or the Beatles CD Abbey Road ... just for a few examples ... this is not a better program. My purchase of a 1/2 pound of Aged Sumatra for $12 (not elig for a free drink because it is not sold in whole pound sizes) now simply earns me "one star" just the same as the person buy one cookie. The new program is NOT better for those customers who purchase a wide variety of items on a frequent basis. It is especially NOT better for the person like me who purchases selected Clover small batch whole bean coffees - all are very high-priced, and none of which are eligible for a free drink when buying a pound because it is not sold that way. On top of that, I'm not convinced I want to be swimming in free beverages. The 10% off my purchase of Abbey Road was a better deal to me. Oh well. I lose.

10/30/2009 10:32 PM

Hmm... not so thrilled about this. I rather liked my Gold Card. The $25 was more than recovered for me in what I saved. In order for this to be even remotely close to equivalent, I'd even settle for a star for each item I bought. 2 drinks and a pound of coffee = 3 stars. The whole 1 transaction = 1 star thing sucks to be brutally honest.

I love Starbucks. I love my Gold Card. The 10% is a big savings when buying merchandise or beans, even some drinks, and now that's gone. Please reconsider this.

10/30/2009 10:39 PM

This is such a huge disappointment. As a Gold Card member I feel like I am definitely getting shafted, but even more so are people that don't visit Starbucks as often and get the crappy - useless - welcome level. How is it welcoming to not even offer free wifi on your first starbucks visit? If I were a new customer I would not return. As a Gold Card member the 10% discount is not only more valuable to me, but simple. I am already dreading having to count stars or wonder if I've made enough transactions to stay at the Gold level. I don't want coupons in the mail, I just want a simple loyalty program. This is such a complicated, underwhelming mess.

10/30/2009 10:56 PM

Come to think about it, for frequent customers it's practically the same program. For new or infrequent customers it's a lot worse, and for Gold Card members is a lot worse. And it add three layers of membership as opposed to 2 - which is more complicated for everyone.

I'm struggling to find how this is an improvement for anybody..

10/30/2009 11:05 PM

You can do whatever you want.  However, those who want to pay $25 for the 10% discount, I would implore you to keep that program going.

I except to renew my membership when it is up so I can continue the discount.  The day I cannot renew my membership is the day I will stop going to Starbucks.  There are way too many local coffeehouses  that I can visit.

10/30/2009 11:15 PM

Last year I bought the Gold card specifically to receive the 10% discount for ANY purchase at Starbucks (not just drinks), which was a good deal. During the year I naturally preferred SB to Caribou, Seattle's Best, etc. to take advantage of my membership and the discount which I could appreciate immediately. A free (tall?) drink after 15 visits is a far more distant and less valuable benefit than 10% of the entire bill on anything I buy at SB. A couple of other things: 1) Most customers will not care to remember how many times they visited SB until a free drink, so the motivation to choose SB over another brand will be much less. 2) Many people could start splitting one purchase in two or more transactions to earn a free drink faster, thus increasing transaction cost for SB and turnaround time for the cashiers. 3) It is not fair to count large and small purchases as "one star'.

I think both programs could exist simultaneously: non-paying members will enjoy their free drinks every 15 or so visits, and paying customers ($25 = ~5 visits!) should enjoy their immediate discount.

10/31/2009 5:39 AM

These new rewards are not great and yes very confusing. And why while adding these new rewards can't you add free refills of iced tea for those of us that stay in the store? For goodness sake, please explain why this reward was offered very briefly and then taken away and not put back?

10/31/2009 7:29 AM

well Stacey, you may be "excited" but those of us who were willing to PAY for Gold cards because we spend alot of $$$ at Starbucks are not.  I've known about this new STAR punch program for a couple days and couldn't wait to comment.  It is NOT better for us, GOLD card holders.  We only ever wanted combined rewards, not to have to use 2 cards.  simple.  People on msi who wanted a'' punch card' were NOT the ones who spend as much as we do on a regular basis (or they would have gotten a Gold card) and yet, you listen to them.  This Star program is ridiculously complicated, .....yes, I understand it, that's why I say it's complicated.  WHO WILL COUNT THE STARS???   My Gold card?   I would not trust that, my RED card hasn't worked correctly (registered for months and mnths) for a long time....not taking off for syrups etc.  I called corp., they said they were having 'trouble' with that.  What if I hadn't gotten a receipt, which I didn't many times. ??  WE are your LOYAL customers, some of us for 20+ yrs, and just like with that stinkin' PPR served all day, you ignore us.

Steve 2
10/31/2009 10:29 AM

Seems Starbucks is more interested in enriching their bottom line than rewarding their loyal customers.  And if you think about it after paying their inflated retail prices for 15 drinks with no 10% discount you have paid for your "free" drink.  For example say you always order a $3.00 drink.  After 15 drinks you pay $45.00. Even a cave man could figure out that you paid for your 'free' drink.

10/31/2009 11:53 AM

I agree with Melody and Steve. The new rewards limit you to just free beverages. You also ahve to wait until you have bought 15 drinks to get anything back. The gold card was a way better deal for people who bought a wide variety of items. This doesn't affect me anyway though, since it isn't offered in Canada.

10/31/2009 1:33 PM

This really sucks big time.  Remember Pechipy, or maybe I should call you by you new Starbucks name of uhuhkbhkjb (I can't even pronounce that!), when we were trying to explain to people why punch cards were not a good deal?  Then Cecile posted that Starbucks would NEVER have a punch card.  Remember?  Well they just came out with one but it is worse and instead of 10 punches for a so called "free" drink that you paid for it is 15 "green stars" for a "free" drink that you paid for. Seems that they are like politicians and talk out of both sides of their mouths.

10/31/2009 1:41 PM

I am disappointed with this new program.  I also was quite happy to get the 10 percent discount regardless of what I bought.  Now in order to get my money's worth, I will probably have to purchase a drink, then stand in line again to get a pastry, so that I can get 2 stars.  The Gold discount was nice because I got the discount on my entire purchase....obviously Starbucks must've lost money on the Gold Cards, which is why they're changing it,  but now they will lose customers too (and MORE money).  

10/31/2009 1:52 PM

Once again, Starbucks rolls out something that ends up being better for them than their customer.  This new reward program is a huge slap in the face for gold card members.  First, we pay $25 for the priviledge of getting a discount as a loyal customer.  Now you take it away.  This just proves to me Starbucks has no commitment to its loyal customers so maybe we should think about our loyalty to them...

Steve 2
10/31/2009 2:13 PM

What Starbucks fails, or refuses, to realize is that they are not the only coffee shop in town.  And some of them have much better coffee too.

10/31/2009 3:37 PM

Does not take a Rocket Scientist to figure out that this is a flim flam on us loyal Starbucks Addicts. Repeating my comments from "View Ideas" (I am DadCooks on that side): This "new program" is a very misguided and poorly thought out idea. SBUX has spent too much time listening to the whiners who cannot figure out how to use two cards (Gold and Registered) for the best benefit and/or that cannot realize that an across-the-board 10% discount is better than a punch card. SBUX you have no idea how much it is going to cost you to program this into your POS system and constantly have to update it as folks figure out ways to game the system and make more work for the cashier. Sure would be nice to have some formating options so that our comments would be clearer, but SBUX is too busy spending money on misguided "rewards (not)" programs.

10/31/2009 3:57 PM

still want to know who is going to COUNT THE STARS?  :(

10/31/2009 4:29 PM

Not I BetterBefore, not I.  Starbucks can take their phony stars and shove them up cyber space's black hole of no return.  I will renew my gold card because that is actually free and keep it in my desk as a reminder of a program that was--to borrow your screen name--better before and, since I live in Seattle, I'm going to Tully's where they don't play games or have stars but just have good, damn good, coffee.

Steve 2
10/31/2009 4:39 PM

I wish they'd get this thread fixed.  I signed in and came directly to this thread and since I thought I was signed in I typed the above comment and hit the post button only to get that "welcome guest" garbage so, after saying a few words that I'm not going to repeat here, went back and signed in and when I came back I saw my comments but under Anonymous.  PLEASE FIX THIS!!

10/31/2009 6:33 PM

My Starbucks Rewards - I can purchase 4 coffees and make them all seperate transactions?  = 4 stars.

10/31/2009 6:44 PM

My Starbucks Rewards - once reaching gold status -  I can buy a single grande cup  of coffee in the morning when you open and have free refills the entire day with half n half and sugar?  I understand most people wouldn't. What i am asking is according to what i have read. This may come as a shock to the stores, a surge of customers. I am thinking of  what happened on free pastery day.  But on the other hand if your stores are ready, great, this will put a hurting on competition if handle well, or burn a hole in your pocket.

10/31/2009 6:46 PM

I think Starbucks is Wonderful

10/31/2009 9:54 PM

The credibility of Starbucks is really what's at question here! Your inconsistent marketing strategies are disenfranchising your most loyal of customers!

10/31/2009 9:57 PM

No, COFFEEISLIFE, you cannot go back within the day for a free refill.  It's only considered a refill when you have not left the store.

10/31/2009 10:07 PM

Let me see if I understand this correctly, if someone has NEVER had a registered card before it will take them 5 purchases just to have wi-fi and all the other perks. And initially 30 purchases BEFORE you can START earning free drinks? Can someone please clarify if this is correct.

11/1/2009 5:26 AM

Breve, is that you???  (I was thinking ??? you've been m.i.a.!  we need you here!) re: Your questions, I have the little Star booklet right here: the NEVER card person is  the 'welcome level and only gets the '' drink.  Yes, they need 5 stars to get to the 'green level' with the rewards, one which is wi-fi.  and then they 'sip their way to Gold' (30 stars) before they can start "START"  earning a "free drink for every 15 stars in Gold".    So, yes, you are correct and that's what it says.   They don't have to give 'free drinks' to anyone, but the Gold card that we PAID for was a nice discount plan.  Now it is a real stupid complicated  mess.....

11/1/2009 5:40 AM

This plan, this "Idea in Action" was inspired by ideas on MSI.  ???   For those of us who watched and wrote and watched the never ending (still, a yr and a half later) complaints about serving PPR all day and the failure of the b.o.d. 'policy', what a slap in the face.  Those comments and threads were rarely, if ever, even responded to.  THIS is what really stinks.  WE have been your loyal customers!  not these cry babies who beg for this and that and want a free drink/every 10 and special foods and play areas for their kids!  we just want our coffee!!!  AND, our voices were LOUD!  but you just kept ignoring them.  THIS is what is SO rotten of you.

11/1/2009 6:02 AM

There might be  people that will hang out at Starbucks longer, a surge of hanging outers. Need more sitting space like the  larger Barnes & Nobles Starbucks sitting areas.

11/1/2009 8:44 AM

What a lame deal for those of us paid $25.00 for the Gold Card.  This was a far better return on investment than the new rewards program.  This is NOT how you reward loyal customers who chose to pay a membership fee to receive benefits.  Sure there is no longer a fee but now the 10% off is gone which was the ONLY reason I paid the fee.  I got the discount on more than drinks, which in this economy is welcome.  What a way to crap on those of us are looking for a way to save money during these times.  Keep your stars and give me my 10%!!  Clearly that is far more valuable.

Steve 2
11/1/2009 11:10 AM

Hay Stacy wake up to reality.  The new My Starbucks Rewards really stinks and is just a glorified punch card without the punches but "stars".  As Nancy or Sally agreed with me on another thread everything that is "free" - and that includes "free" drinks - must be paid for by someone and it this case the customer.  With a regular punch card the customer has to purchase 10 drinks to get the "free" drink that they secretly paid for but with your new system they must purchase 15 drinks to get their "free" drink that they secretly paid for.  WHAT A SCAM!!

11/1/2009 12:32 PM

This feels like the biggest shaft, we are a 2 Gold Card family and spend $400-600/month; $8000/year. If i wanted stars i would go to my daughters craft drawer and get them. WE the gold card members didn't pay the 25.00 just for the heck of it. If this is how you are going to treat the Gold Card members. I know for a fact that there is a Bigby's or Dunkin Donuts that would be more than happy to take our business. As it is our nearest Starbucks is 15-20 minute drive, whereas DD and Bigby's is less than a mile. I guess i will have to let my daughter know that there will be no more Vanilla Bean or Pumpkin Scones. Please reconsider your "My Rewards" program

Steve 2
11/1/2009 5:20 PM

This is the second time I have posted this comment.   The first just disappeared and I'm getting pretty upset at it and I had to sign in TWICE.  With all the negative comments this "stars" scam has generated over just one weekend you had better rethink your decision before you lose all your customers.  Just the above comment there is $8,000. plus $50. for 2 gold card memberships a year going out the door.  As you and every other retailer knows once  a customer goes out the door it is near impossible to get them back and remember you are not the only coffee shop in town, there are plenty and some of them have better coffee than you do.

11/1/2009 8:44 PM

I've been a loyal customer of Starbucks for over 20 years, usually visiting every single day, often twice a day, and sometimes even three times.  I spend a lot of money at Starbucks.  Or at least I have, right up til now.  

But, man, if this company were actively seeking to drive its customers away, it couldn't have done a better job.  Most recently, there is yet another price increase -- but this time only affecting drinkers of certain drinks (what?) and in THIS economy (double what?) -- and now the 10% discount  is pulled (didn't anyone ever teach Starbucks that it's a lot easier to never give a benefit than it is to give it, get the beneficiaries used to it, and then yank it away and expect no repercussions?).  

So for me, it comes down to this.  I am a caffeine junky.  Starbucks hooked me a really long time ago.  But there are plenty of places in town to get good espresso, places that don't jerk their customers around.  I can't say I'll never be back, but once my gold card expires in Jan., it will be rare and only out of convenience or circumstance.  I will no longer seek Starbucks out as my choice for coffee.  

11/1/2009 8:59 PM

For those who are NOT gold card memebers this is a good deal (once they reach gold status) but for those of us who are gold card members we are losing out. Yes we now get the free syrups and soy but now we are losing the 10% discount. Also to get the most benefit we will have to ring our purchases seperate. When I go with my kids I will be forced to have the order rung up in 3 transactions (already had to do it in to 2, for my soy drinking daughter). BOO!

11/1/2009 9:05 PM

Yes it is absolutely clear that is really not an improvement in loyalty programs for the existing Gold Card members. Sure, Gold Card members will now get free soy and syrups but if you weren't a customer into that, this now does you no good. If your favorite beverage is a tall Sumatra from the Clover ($1.95) well with 10% off, you've received a free one after ten beverages, but now, you'd have to buy 5 more.

There are large groups of people who like this program, and they almost all fall into the category of currently NOT being a Gold Card holder, and having a regular habit of an espresso beverage and something small with it.  If you already were a Tall Vanilla Soy Latte and a coffee cake kind of person, this new program is a great deal! Now you just simply start earning free beverages when you didn't before!

Steve 2
11/2/2009 5:52 AM

Gads it did it again and I am really mad.  I typed out a comment and again  -- poof -- it disappeared and I got that "welcome guest" BS so FIX IT NOW!!

Steve 2
11/2/2009 9:38 AM

Man oh man did Starbucks ever make a GIANT MISTAKE by eliminating the gold card and the 10% discount and start this phoney "stars" BS. Is this what Sally, Nancy, and Cecile meant by "enhanced benefits"?  Just like Erin  said if Starbucks' intention was to irritate and drive away customers, especially you most loyal gold card members, they did a pretty good job of it.  This is not, I feel, even a good deal for non gold card members and people who just visit Starbucks occasionally unless they only buy a cookie 15 times so they can get the necessary 15 "stars" to earn a "free" drink but then again after purching 15 cookies they have secretly paid for their "free" drink making it not so "free".  As Nancy or Sally agreed with me someone has got to pay for these "free" drinks and guess who that someone is.  It sure ain't Starbucks that's for sure.  Of course as we have all learned there is a sucker born every minute.

11/2/2009 10:06 AM

Current Gold card member, future non-Starbucks customer.

So currently (after my $25 fee) I get 10% off my two drinks (my wife and myself) which we tend to have every day. With the "new" program, after 15 VISITS (not 15 drinks), I would get a free drink. Doesn't work out very well, and doesn't make me feel very Gold.  I suppose I could go through the stupidity of paying for her drink and my drink separately, but even that doesn't work out. Or I could by 15lbs of coffee, 15 coffee makers, or 15 cookies - all to get a "free drink"...but I think rather it is time to do the right thing, and say goodbye to Starbucks.

Let's see...benefits extended to Jan 5...Perfect timing for a great "New Year's Resolution" - No More Starbucks.

11/2/2009 10:18 AM

This program is ridiculous. As a current Gold Card member, I can only see that my drinks will end up costing me a lot more. Can anybody explain how the stars are going to work? Is it simply one star per purchase, or is it a different number of stars based on price / number of items / etc.? The ONLY way this new program would be at all attractive is if somehow the star thing works out to equalling 10% or more (since we don't get the discount on non-drink items any more).

Steve 2
11/2/2009 10:18 AM

There you go another two customers lost probably for good.    And who knows how many people they will tell.  Word of mouth works both ways.  CONGRATULATIONS STARBUCKS!!

11/2/2009 12:23 PM

@FotoMoto - A point of clarification: You earn a star for each "transaction" not each "visit". Thus if you go to Starbucks and you get a latte, your wife gets a latte, and you each buy one pastry, AND you ask the barista to ring that up as four transaction (4 receipts) you're going to receive 4 stars during your one "visit" to Starbucks. I'm not a fan of this new program either, but I thought I'd help with a little further explanation...

11/2/2009 1:01 PM

@Melody13...I understood that...which is why I mentioned the stupidity of paying for our drings separately.  I, standing in a typical morning line, would get quite upset if everyone asked the barista to ring up each dring individually...that is the stupidity of a system that makes no sense. And also why I mentioned that if you ring up a cookie each of 15 transactions, vs a coffee machine at each of 15 transaction, you get the same number of "stars".  Very poor "rewards" program.  Again, no thanks.

11/2/2009 3:07 PM

and yet NO ONE from Starbucks even bothers to "comment" to us.  

11/2/2009 4:05 PM

@betterbefore8 - oh they'll comment in their own good time, in a very "correct way" with no regard for our comments. SBUX does not have the integrity to admit that they have a made a mistake.

Steve 2
11/2/2009 4:33 PM

Hey DadCooks you said exactly what I was thinking but couldn't find the words.  It is really hard for some people, especially management type people, to be big enough to come out and say "I made a mistake".  Almost as hard as it is to say "I'm sorry".  Lacking integrity... now that's exactly what it is.

11/2/2009 6:57 PM

CONGRATULATIONS STARBUCKS!!, Why in the heck would you mess with GOLD card members???  Oh, come on guy's, you have to be kidding me. Like many people commenting, I stop by SBUX at least once a day, if not twice. Typically when I visit, my wife is with me. So, with this new "Complicated", system, I'm guessing I would only receive one star. I guess I could solve this by "gaming" the system and having the partners swipe the card twice (once for my drink, and once for my wife's), but even with that, I'm not going to even get close to the savings with the Gold Card. If you want to have the "rewards program", then fine, but don't mess with the Gold program. During these economic times, you really shouldn't mess with your best customers!!!

11/2/2009 7:16 PM

I just wanted to write and express my sincere disappointment in an email that I just received regarding my Starbucks Gold Card.  It informed me that after the current membership term is up, I will be auto enrolled in a "Starbucks Rewards Membership" program that no longer provides me with the great benefits of my former membership.  Even though I pay a fee for the card each year, the 10% off is a huge selling point as I use it often to purchase coffee for my office co-workers and family.  I read through the new benefits at and they don't really compare.  A free drink for every 15 stars is not even worth it!  It would only be worth it if I paid for the 6 coffees I usually purchase on a visit...separately.  I believe that you should still offer the option to current Gold Members to continue to pay the fee each year and receive the 10% discount.  I don't customize my ice coffee, so the syrup benefit doesn't help.  Without the 10% off, there’s no point in even being a rewards member.  I also wanted to say that I have two brothers who have current Gold Card memberships and are frequent visitors; and I can assure you that they will also be disappointed in this awful shift in what you are calling “benefits.”  This is a perfect example of why Starbucks has continued to get worse over the past few years.  The quality of product has worsened as well as the customer experience.  If you cannot continue to offer the 10% discount, then you can consider me…a formerly loyal customer.

11/2/2009 7:24 PM

Well the more that I think about this, the more I realize that probably the removal of the 10 percent discount won't make one bit of difference in my Starbucks habits. I mean seriously, I've been a customer for 20 years, and this was an isolated free and short-lived perk. Now I'm totally sure that Starbucks regrets opening up Pandora's box of discounts, coupons, value meals, and whatever.

On the other hand, the one thing that has really made a difference in how frequently I visit Starbucks is that so-called policy called "Brew on Demand" which Starbucks blames the customer for wanting "coffee" and thinks we're being "demanding" when it sets up a poor situation of pitting customer against barista. Yes, that has reduced my Starbucks visits. The customer is BLAMED for wanting bold coffee, and Starbucks treats us like we're emotional children because somehow we didn't do the right tap-dance for the barista to coax him or her to brew coffee. No, that means I just don't go afternoon unless I'm near a Clover store. End of story.

11/2/2009 7:25 PM

Let me simply add my voice to the mob of other loyal Gold Card members - I am disappointed and will likely not continue to visit Starbucks. In addition to frequenting the stores, often buying a drink and a pastry, I buy Double Shots in bulk, as with the card it is sometimes cheaper than purchasing 4-packs elsewhere. the 10% discount is a huge motivator as a customer, and I have enjoyed the Gold Card program immensely. I have a serious problem with Starbucks' new program, and to be quite honest I have a hard time believing that they didn't foresee any of this public outcry. Who do they think they are fooling?

Starbucks had better seek a compromise. I purchased my Gold Card in late January, and fully planned to renew. A personalized card that is, in reality, no more than a glorified electronic punch card is in no way an "evolution" of this program! I love Starbucks products; however, I will have no problem withholding my business from their company if they do not respond to the problem they have created.

11/2/2009 7:28 PM

Why do Duetto cardholders always get screwed on these types of updates?

11/2/2009 9:34 PM

"Starbucks Gold exceeded our expectations" well then why change it? I bet with all these complaints your expectations of a new program will sink like the titanic...quick and sink really deep.  Perhaps trying to bring up revenue will hurt business.  I no longer see myself as a valued customer without the use of my card that brought me back everyday but one that finds this program a chore and not one to return daily.  You thought you'd make more money from me?  SORRY!  

11/2/2009 10:11 PM

I'm very sad to say that on January 05, 2010, Starbucks loses this loyal customer unless they reverse this decision.

My store is the Woodbury Ave store in Portsmouth, NH. They are the finest crew of Starbucks employees I've even seen and consider them my friends. The store produces consistent perfection in their drinks and is so clean it is an example for others to follow.

Starbucks was successful in making me a loyal customer and dedicated to introducing my friends and family to Starbucks by way of the great crew at the store I mentioned above.

On the rollout of the Gold Card Plan; even before it was available, I was hooked. The day the card came out, I bought mine. I had no problem paying my Starbucks UP FRONT a $25.00 fee because I knew I would save that much buying drinks for my friends and family.

Now, one year later, you are returning my loyalty and dedication as a Starbucks representative and enthusiast by taking away this incentive.

Very poor move, Corporate. I hate to say goodbye to friends, but I will stand on the principle. I will continue to patronize my store and introduce new people to Starbucks up until January 05, 2010.

After that, two local coffee shops get my patronage.


11/3/2009 12:48 AM

Am I the only one that is baffled by having to purchase with the card rather than just swiping it along with payment as I do with the current Gold Card?  So instead of one transaction with two swipes, staff will now have to put $1 from my check card onto my Sbux card, then two more steps.  One to use the newly loaded $1 and one to use my check card anyway to pay for the balance of the purchase.  And I will doubtlessly have to explain it in detail each time, since I will be considered crazy for not "loading up" the card.  One of the reasons for purchasing the Gold Card was that I did not have to put cash onto it in order to use it.

11/3/2009 4:59 AM

It seems that as a duetto card user for many years, I now get no registered card rewards /benefits as of 12/26/09.    Please change the new rules to include the duetto visa as a REGISTERED card with all benefits as it always has been in the past. I don't understand why I, as a daily customer using a registered duetto card, will not be rewarded as regular registered card customers.

11/3/2009 5:36 AM

oh, Steve 3, i feel your pain now.  *POOF* there went the comment...

11/3/2009 6:04 AM

the requirement (obviously) of paying with the card..if you want the beneftits (compared to Gold) means always having  $$$ on it.  i'd rather not do that.  why would i want to have MY money locked onto a Sbux card all the time, especially now. ?  

and what makes this all the worse is what Melody wrote about:   they changed the Starbucks "experience" last spring when they started the PPR All Day plan and IGNORED all of us about that.  They have their failed B.O.D. policy, which most customers know nothing about (no signage), we've commented on that over and over and still, nothing has changed.  So, after well over a put all these things together and it really feels like (more) than  a slap in the face.  It's all this combined.  Can't you see this STARBUCKS????

11/3/2009 7:53 AM

Please reconsider this ill-conceived notion of lumping everyone into one program.  Leave my Gold card just as it is, and then put anything you want into some other program.  The benefits of using the Gold card have been stated repeatedly above - we cared enough to buy the card, and we care enough to give you our thoughts here - are you paying attention?  Honestly, this is an insult to our intelligence, as well as a hit on our wallets.  You have time to re-think this, and we really, really wish you would do so.

11/3/2009 8:32 AM

Everything will be just fine. This is just a way to stimulate conversation. It is nice to see new members on the Starbucks web sites.

11/3/2009 8:34 AM

People may leave, but they will always know where to go for a good coffee. Starbucks

11/3/2009 8:34 AM

People may leave, but they will always know where to go for a good coffee. Starbucks

11/3/2009 9:27 AM

The new program seesm too confusing.   Keep the 10% discount!

11/3/2009 11:22 AM

If Starbuck's does not continue the Starbucks Gold program as-is I will stop going to Starbucks and visit a local coffee/choclate cafe instead.  This is the latest in a long line of stupid decisions Starbucks has made in recent years.  You create a loyalty program for your top spenders and then take it away after little more than a year.  The "conversion" is a joke as the benefits are nowhere near their current level.  I spend well over $2,000  a year at Starbucks.  The Gold Program should continue or the same discount should apply to Gold members in the new program.  There can be a minimum spending level to qaulify instead of "stars."  Hope you make the right deicsion.  Basded on feedback I have read, I am not the only one who feels this way.


11/3/2009 11:56 AM

I can easily do business with any number of excellent coffee companies here in Pasadena, and now I clearly have a financial incentive to do so.

On average I save $2.84 every day by using my Gold Card. That's a monthly savings of about $85. Working those numbers backwards, when I transition from Starbucks to Pete's, Coffee Bean, Jones Coffee or another shop near me, Starbucks will forfeit my business at the rate of about $900. per month, plus the generous tips that I contribute to the Starbucks team on every visit.

I can't be the only high volume buyer that will have good reason to find a new "coffee home".

I am disappointed that Starbucks has chosen this business tactic, but as a business owner I must conclude that their decision has been carefully thought out and that my consistent business will be effectively replaced by others who view the matter differently.

For me, based on the elimination of the 10% discount alone, it's time for me to establish a fresh new daily pattern. I will miss Starbucks, but I have many options on which to draw.

11/3/2009 1:32 PM

Yesterday I logged on to check my gold card balance and started seeing details about a new "rewards program." Concerned that it might affect my account, I looked at the web page with details. WOW - I am fully disappointed.

I live and work near a handful of coffee shops, a good majority of which are Starbucks. There are times where I stray to a local coffee hut, but the thing that keeps me coming back to Starbucks week after week is the fact that I have enrolled my gold card to auto-load at the beginning of each month so that I can take advantage of my 10% off.

Free drinks you say? I buy more than just drinks. CDs, pastries, drinkware, how is it a benefit to get free drinks when I can get 10% off an entire purchase?

When the 10% off discount goes away, so will my auto-reload, and so will my incentive to keep going to Starbucks.

Thanks Starbucks - it was nice knowing you.

11/3/2009 1:51 PM

Wow. Starbucks had the temerity to send out an e-mail (like myself) to convince us that this new Rewards program is somehow "even better" for  Gold Card holders (like myself).

So first you discontinue a good program, then you insult our intelligence by peeing on our heads and telling us it's raining. Smooth move, Sbux.

11/3/2009 2:26 PM

Please Digg this story:

11/3/2009 2:26 PM

After my gold card expires so will my relationship with Starbucks. The gold card was perfect because I'm not a really big coffee drinker but I visit Starbucks at least once a week and I like getting my 10% off. Now I have to make multiply visits to "earn" a discount, not a good look.

I hope you guys reconsider because no matter how many ways you flip it, it's a bad idea for those willing to pay $25 for gold card privileges.

11/3/2009 4:45 PM

@RaeWhitlock - I saw that email too! It seemed like a good piece of creative writing and custuming for what will now be an inferior benefit for many.

I note that the email is signed only from "Your Starbucks Rewards Team" like as if no one person within the Starbucks headquarter had the responsibility and emotional connection with the customer to own up to these significant changes. When the Gold Card was new, it was brightly announced by executives who proudly signed their name to the new program, but it is withdrawn in an anonymous state from "Your Starbucks Rewards Team".

11/3/2009 5:10 PM

It will all work out in the end, I will be patient. I currently don't bother with any reward cards. Starbucks places and coffee is still very good campared to others.

11/3/2009 5:37 PM

Starbucks dropping the Gold program is okay for corporate but cuts me out.  I spent an hour to find any hard details on this "new" program.  My drinks are custom.  (a Barista and I work each drink.  8 drinks of effort is minimum for getting a repeat one I like.  I love this effort w/ a good Barista.  Barista's remember I don't get menu drinks.)  Every time you overhaul your menu I rework my custom drinks.  I cannot find how I will use this "new" program.  15 drinks yields 1 drink but NOT one custom drink.  I cannot find any customer enhancement to your "gold card" program w/ this new program.  Are you going to add a line in the store for menu purchases to "buy" my free drink so I can put the money toward my custom drink?  Do I wait to visit Starbucks until I have a friend who likes menu items so I can share "my" reward?  W/ my gold card, I buy plenty for friends but I never ask what they want to make sure it fits your reward system (10% means I am happy to share and my friend gets what friend loves).  Can I buy another Gold Card year now?  If yes, I will be there as soon as I hear.

11/3/2009 6:05 PM

I'm curious...where are the Starbucks folks on this thread?  Obviously, Gold Card customers are extremely upset.  Doesn't anyone at Starbucks care?

11/3/2009 6:15 PM

@Anonymous- What exactly are you spending over $28/day on at Starbucks?

@bhanold- What are you talking about?  A free drink is a free drink.  It's not going to be some random menu drink that you're entitled to get for free-- it's whatever your drink is.  If your drink is some random concoction of every different syrup and made a crazy way... that doesn't matter, it's still your free drink.  You'll also be saving even when your drink isn't free-- I imagine your "custom" drinks probably have flavoring, right?  That will be free with the Rewards Card.

@everyone- I'm willing to bet Starbucks deeply regrets having launched the Gold Card in the first place.  If there was never a Gold Card, and we went straight from NO rewards to this new "My Starbucks Rewards"... we'd all be very happy campers.

11/3/2009 6:48 PM

You make such great points CranBliss! True true true what you say about if we had gone from NO rewards to the new "My Starbucks Rewards".

11/3/2009 7:22 PM

That is great cranBliss7. I agree to a degree. I don't want to be stuck buying dunkin dounuts coffee or food - I still have nightmares of gas station coffee. I want Starbucks, period. Starbucks can do just about anything they want.. I would like great product at great prices and if  i get some free every now and then , fantastic.

11/3/2009 7:42 PM

The problem is people are broke,  their  habits is breaking them(not just coffee alone). These people, alot of them only have Starbucks for their pleasure. No vacations, no going out to eat, nothing else but their responsiblities. They do treat themselves to Starbucks 1-3 times a day, but thats it.  I think 50-65%  of people have given up many luxuries, have cut back alot , because they have to. But still many will have one like going to Starbucks. To spend $5.00-$10.00  on yourself everyday is becoming harder and harder to do for alot of people.

11/3/2009 9:09 PM

Very disappointed in this new program Starbucks.  I would think it'd be easy to see how many customers would be upset by losing the 10% discount!  Why not offer a new "premium" gold card that we continue to pay an annual fee for to keep our 10% discount?

11/3/2009 9:51 PM

Please re-consider removing the 10% discount from the Gold card features. This was a great incentive that was a great incentive to purchase more coffee...

It feels like you had to complicate things to hide the bad news for the Gold members that the changes would not be as favorable.

11/4/2009 5:59 AM

This really is an unbelievably dumb move on the part of Starbucks, and it shows that they don't know how to listen to their customers.  The Gold card program had a few problems that customers asked to have fixed -- namely the conflict with the regular card benefits and the incompatibility with the Duetto card.  A few customers complained that there was a $25 fee for the card, but any customer who can do math understands that the $25 fee was a bargain for anyone who frequents Starbucks on a daily basis.  So, what did Starbucks do to fix the problems?  It killed the whole Gold Card program in favor of a program that provides about half the benefit.  Great.  Free syrup.  I don't use syrup.  Free refills on drip coffee.  I don't drink drip coffee.  Free soy.  I don't drink soy.  Free tall drink with the purchase of beans.  I don't buy beans.  OK, free drink after fifteen uses of the card.  I used to get the equivalent of a free drink after ten drinks (i.e., the 10% discount).  Actually it's even worse.  With the Gold Card, when I buy drinks with friends, family and coworkers (say, $20 for five drinks) I save $2.  With the new "benefit" I would be 1/15th of the way to a free drink.  I would have to do this 15 times to earn a single drink because buying five drinks would only earn me one star for the use of the card, not five stars for buying five drinks.  Plus, there is no discount on food, mugs, CDs, beans, or anything else bought at starbucks -- just a credit towards a free drink.  Starbucks must really think we are stupid.

11/4/2009 6:10 AM

Oh, and of course, the new program is incompatible with the Duetto Card.  I am just stunned at how incompetent this new program reveals the Starbucks card team to be.

11/4/2009 6:29 AM

@Steve 3:  I, too, am frustrated that the system throws away comments after they are typed.  Do yourself a favor.  Before hitting the "Post" button, copy your comment to the clipboard so you can just paste it back if the application deletes it.  This habit has saved me having to retype several long comments when MSI misbehaves.

11/4/2009 7:34 AM

I am not sure who said it but I agree...just got my email saying my Gold Card bennies will continue until 5 Jan...yep, perfect time to make a New Year's Resolution and start brewing my own coffee. I will save way more than the 10% discount I was still willing to pay for in an annual fee.

Shame on you Starbucks...we are not idiots, so please do not spin this as a great thing  for your most loyal customers. If you value us, you will correct this obvious error in judgement.

11/4/2009 7:39 AM

This is the worst blunder in misreading customer loyalty since New Coke.  Hopefully this decision will be as short-lived.

11/4/2009 7:56 AM

There are SO many threads on the IDEA site against this new STAR plan that I can barely keep up with voting 'up' on them.  IS ANYONE PAYING ATTENTION?   AND,  where are all the folks who are PRAISING  this punch card system that supposedly was so desired????  WHERE ARE THEY?  where are their comments?  I don't see them.

11/4/2009 8:12 AM

Thank you for your comments on the new Rewards program.  We have been collecting your feedback and sharing it with the Card team.  Your input has been helpful in shaping the evolution of the program.  

11/4/2009 9:37 AM

This has got to be one of the worst ideas yet.  I finally gave in and spent the $25 for the card and use it daily, sometimes more than once.  It has more than paid for itself in my eyes and has kept me from going to other stores (ie: Dunkin Donuts).  The benefit you are essentially giving now is a negative benefit for me, and you and I both know that the original program wasn't eating into your profits THAT much.

Steve 2
11/4/2009 9:38 AM

Thanks Cecile but what is Starbucks going to do about it?  

Steve 2
11/4/2009 9:43 AM

I just came from someone's thread that suggests that the gold card offer 20%  discount instead of 10. Now that is a jollly good idea and Starbucks would, I feel, sell a bazillion gold cards especially if they offered it Canada and the rest of the known world.

Steve 2
11/4/2009 9:47 AM

Good idea Anonymous but a better idea would be for Starbucks to fix it!

11/4/2009 9:58 AM

I'm not sure where I should begin with my feedback on this. As a current Gold Membership holder, the downgrade from saving 10% on everything to getting ONE "punch" per VISIT? Is embarrassing at best.  This really should be at least one "punch" per DRINK to be of any value to the consumer.

For example: on any given weekend my boyfriend and I will purchase a drink and a sandwich each, sometimes a pastry, spending approximately $13-$15 per visit. With my Gold 10% discount, this takes off $1.30-$1.50 in discount. More often than not, we'll visit both Saturday and Sunday spending the same amount. Do the math, if we do this every weekend for a year, we're spending $1300-$1500 at Starbucks.  This doesn't include the weekday trips either of us will make separately, nor does it include coffee beans I'll purchase, Bearista bears, mugs and other things and gifts that we will buy. Having that 10% discount is incentive for us to keep coming back to Starbucks and purchasing things we can easily buy elsewhere.

Now, figure in the "punch" system. One punch per visit, if we spend $1, or $100, or buy multiple drinks, or a single drink? Again, do the math:  if I take the cost of the drink that I buy ($4.00), and divide that by 15, that equals $0.26. Twenty-six cents per visit savings.

How is this incentive for convincing me to want to remain a loyal Starbucks customer? I willingly bought a Gold Membership, and would willingly pay another $25 for another year of the same benefits that I'm receiving now.  For the "punch" system to be of any value at all (and this is stretching the meaning of the word "benefit"), we will need to pay for our drinks SEPARATELY, which will increase time spent in line, become an inconvenience to us, those in line, and especially the baristas who will be spending more time ringing up more transactions.

How is the free syrup and soy milk options a "perk" for people who do NOT drink flavored coffee or drink soy milk? If I'm someone who drinks a latte, or if I drink tea, then none of the drink "perks" are of any benefit to me. This is not an incentive to retain customers.

Removing this discount greatly lessens the incentive to want to take our repeat business back to Starbucks once January 5th rolls around and my Gold Membership ends.

I do like how multiple cards registered to one person will all count towards the "punch" total, especially if you get cards as gifts, but I'm afraid this isn't enough to retain the loyalty of your frequent customers.

11/4/2009 10:15 AM

This is terrible news for all of us Gold Card holders who are getting tossed aside under the guise of an "improvement."  Taking away the 10% discount is the worst news possible for us loyal visitors.

11/4/2009 12:00 PM

My main concern about this new program is growing register lines. It hit me today as I was purchasing EIGHT pounds of Thanksgiving Blend in one visit to Starbucks (no, I don't normally buy that much coffee ...). Under the new program, there is no doubt that it will be in my best interest to ask a barista to ring each pound of coffee up separately. Lots of customers, no matter what they're ordering, are going to be asking for things to be rung up separately. I don't see how this isn't going to slow down lines??

Steve 2
11/4/2009 12:50 PM

Melody, it would be to your best interests to join the throng and go to Starbucks' competitors where appreciate their treat loyal customers and treat them right.

11/4/2009 3:38 PM

It will slow down lines massively, Melody. There is no way that everyone making two transactions instead of one wouldn't slow lines down.

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