Sunday, November 23, 2008

A huge miss for Starbucks

On a recent trip to my local Starbucks, I saw a brochure for the new Starbucks Gold card. I was intrigued. I've been going there a lot and the 10% discount attracted me. But I have to admit somewhat sheepishly that I was also attracted by the thought of being in this elite club. Starbucks describes this as "Starbucks Gold is the Card for people who really love Starbucks."

So I purchased a card on their website. You pay $25 and get 10% off and several other benefits. I did the math and the 10% would have paid out for me.

But then I found out that it could not be combined with the benefits of my existing Starbucks card. Which got me wondering. What benefits that I currently have would I lose? It turns out, I would lose my free soymilk and free syrup. As soon as I realized that I would lose benefits, the luster of this card wore off.

I use soymilk every time. So this seriously eroded the financial value of the card.

Perhaps more important, I felt that this card was not the elite card. It was not the premium card for Starbucks favorite customers.

After all, I would have been switching from a free card that gave me free soymilk and syrup to a card that I had to pay for. Why the heck should I lose benefits in that offering?! If this is their elite card, shouldn't it have all the benefits of the free card and then some? Isn't that why people would pay?

Starbucks told me that I would have to choose which set of benefits was more meaningful to me. That's fine, but not if one card is free and the other comes at a price and is called "Gold". This "Gold" card is not a premium card, it is just another card with a different set of benefits. And a price tag.

This is a boneheaded move. I called to cancel the Starbucks Gold card. Moreover, I am seriously considering adding Starbucks to my list of businesses that I will never again patronize.

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